Areas for Improvement

Strengths & Weaknesses

Prospective partners, clients, employers,  and employees are better served by knowing the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Unfortunately, when asked about their weaknesses in job interviews, candidates sometimes give B.S. answers, such as:

  • “My only weakness is that I’m deeply passionate about my work. I work too hard at my job at the cost of not giving enough time to my friends and family.”
  • “When I see an elderly lady on a wheelchair struggling to cross the road, and no one else is around to help, I will on occasion help her at the cost of being late to work.”

Such blatantly disingenuous answers serve no one’s interests. Sooner or later, a person’s shortcomings that are relevant to the job become will be found out anyway. Sharing them with a prospective employer benefits both parties, because:

  • Your acknowledging a problem instead of trying to hide it is an important step towards overcoming it.
  • The employer could help by providing coaching and support, and by being understanding and making adjustments.
  • Your honesty will earn you trust and lead to productive working relationships.

As a companion to my resume, I’ve provided below a list of what may be my weaknesses in certain professional contexts. This is not a comprehensive list of everything about me that needs improvement.

A person’s strengths and weaknesses are often the same qualities. What’s a strength is one context is a weakness in another. The strengths and good qualities I have also disadvantage me in certain circumstances.

We human beings are always adapting, changing and improving. This is not a permanent list, but a snapshot made at one point in time. As I gain more experience, test and learn, my capabilities grow.

Having said all that, below are some areas where my strengths may be limited, in no particular order.

  • I have limited international work experience. Most of my career has been in the United States of America. I’m not intimately familiar with how business is conducted and projects are managed in other countries. However:
    • I learn quickly; observe and take subtle cues; am respectful; take a genuine interest in other people’s well-being and success; build meaningful relationships and work well with people of diverse backgrounds.
    • I’ve lived and travelled abroad and have a network of personal friends and business contacts across the globe. My friends like to help and teach me and vice versa.
    • Since 2014, I’ve been a member of the World Economic Forum‘s community of Young Global Leaders, which has been giving me regular and meaningful exposure to leaders from all walks of life and from over the world.
  • Both at home and at work, I daily receive many more emails, phone calls and meeting requests than I could possibly even look at, let alone respond to. It is physically impossible for me to read every email that I receive. I seldom interrupt what I’m doing to try to respond to each email that I receive. However:
    • I value people, relationships and in-person communications. I walk around and talk with my colleagues face to face or via video conference. People are welcome to visit me and I visit them. I also enjoy having brief, productive conversations in hallways and common areas.
    • By not spending most of my time emailing back and forth, I’m able to focus on the really important things, be more productive and help other people be successful.
    • In big jobs with broad responsibilities and several hundred staff, I function best when I have both a chief of staff and an administrative assistant in my team.
  • I’m only fluent in two languages: English and Hindi. However:
    • I’m learning Spanish and plan to learn Mandarin.
    • I can write software in over a dozen programming languages.
  • I have some off-shore project management experience, but not a lot. However:
    • In the few off shore projects I have supervised, my teams brought successful results.
  • I do not have experience in life-critical projects and industries like medical engineering, nuclear power and weapons engineering. I’ve worked successfully on critically important projects to the business but none where human lives were at stake. However:
    • I’ve worked on media Web sites with 24×7 news cycles and uptime requirements even during unexpected events. I have excellent crisis management skills and a proven track record of staying calm and providing leadership in emergencies.
  • I am no longer a hands-on professional computer programmer. I do write code to accomplish personal tasks on my computers and I participate in some open source development as a hobby, but I’m not a regular code author. However:
    • I’m a professional people manager who helps develop environments where professional software engineers write great code and be happy.
  • Some people have given me the negative feedback that I’m “too nice.” This is true. I’m a kind, caring, and warm human being who believes in the good in others and is often willing to give people a chance. My life’s motto is that victory is winning people over, not defeating them. I’m well aware that this is a weakness in some situations and I’m working on it by learning and improving. However:
    • To those who insist this is a major weakness, I have one thing to say: Be thankful I do not consider you my enemy, because a kind, well-liked person who has helped many others makes a formidable adversary.
  • I am unwilling and unable to “do anything and everything it takes” to get desired business results. If something is immoral and unethical, I will not do it nor be party to it. I believe that we must support our friends, even in their mistakes, but it should be clear it is the friend and not the mistake we are supporting. However:
    • I will go above and beyond in doing things that are moral and ethical.

For a list of my strengths, please view my resume and recommendations.

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