I really don’t want to care too much about manager’s comments. Those comments tend to hurt deeply. They often reflect the manager’s personal agenda, never a balanced, unbiased view. The keyword list is designed to counter some of the negative comments.
- [zed, catcha] versatile, broad-based
- [GS] ownership
- [GS] client relationship
- [GS, Chartered] attention to details
- [GS] code quality. I was asked to present and publish
- [GS, Mansion] technical strength
- [GS, Barc] analytical
- [Barc, GS] knowledge sharing
- [Barc, GS] personal sacrifices
- [95G] architecture design
- [Mac] good at team working across departments
- [Mac] adaptive to new tech; fast learning
- In summary — appears daunting and opaque but actually simple in practice
- theoretical — my strength. Few coding tests and usually easy for me
- fairly low-level — my strength. Not as low level as debugger, or template hacks …
- GTD — no GTD challenges, since most projects use only simple threading designs. The code tracing, trouble-shooting expectation on me is relatively low.
- opaque — for my peers. Even the basic condVar…
- churn — low churn at the low level, but high churn at high level
- ever-green — favorite topic of interviewers, esp. java
- thin->thick->thin — I have achieved this for a long time.
Many of my halos are in this domain — ##halo across domains #specific=better
- EMP world
- Chartered — mentor
- Catcha — architect
- NIT — consulting architect
- GS — mentor for Sinduja
- GS — system owner for ErrorMemos + AISE
some of the leadership positions I was considered but didn’t win — Mac, Agilent,
Ideally, I want to get a job role slightly lower than the highest salary, where my 80% effort can start to exceed the expectation.
Looking at past jobs, the numbers below are very imprecise and subjective.
- [B/g] Citi muni — my 70<-80% might be enough or perhaps earn me no bonus like many Citi guys.
- [B] GS — after the steep learning curve, my 100% was indeed enough to meet the high bar, but I feel 95% would not be
- [G] 95G — after I proved myself, my 80<-90% was exceeding.
- Big factor — colleagues were weaker
- Big factor — my designs were favored by the boss
- [G] Barc — after I proved myself, my 70<-90% was exceeding.
- Big factor — I built a high-value, high visibility part of the system
- Big factor — no one else was qualified to work on that
- [g] Mac — my 100% was not enough even on the basic devops part of the job. I once felt my 80% was fine in the 1st year, but actually expectation is much higher than I thought.
- [B] Stirt — my 100% was barely good enough but not enough to earn a bonus. The project was a few months old when I joined but I struggled with the Qz platform:(
- [B] OC — my 70% would be enough but too relaxed
Some top geeks I know are fast at reading code + logs. Few rely on documentation. I’m OK not the fastest.
Some top geeks in “sister” teams of my team are experts with instrumentation tools and techniques. I guess other top geeks seldom need a lot of instrumentation. I feel they lack the experience but make up for it in other skills.
Some top geeks keep gaining depth if they focus on one complex system. I might have potential here.
When I become interested in a tech topic, I often throw cold water over my head — “This is such a /juvenile/, albeit productive and wholesome, hobby. Look at ex-classmates/colleagues so and so, with their business wing. They deal with business strategies. My tech stuff is so low-level and boring compared to what they deal with.”
Damaging, harmful, irrational, demoralizing SMS! Get Real, Man! Let’s assess our own situation
- A) On one hand, I need to avoid spending too much time becoming expert in some
low-leverage or high-churn technology (php? XML? ASP?).
- B) On the other hand, the enthusiasm and keen interest is hard to get and extremely valuable. They could be the catalyst that grow my zbs and transform me into a veteran over a short few years. Even with this enthusiasm and depth of interest, such a quick ascent is not easy and not likely. Without them, it’s simply impossible.
Case: grandpa. His research domain(s) is considered unglamorous 冷门 but he is dedicated and passionate about it. He knows that in the same Academy of social sciences, economics, geopolitics and some other fields are more important. He often feels outside the spotlight (kind of sidelined but for valid reasons). That is a fact which had a huge impact on my own choice of specialization. But once he decided to dig in and invest his whole life, he needed to deal with that fact and not let it affect his motivation and self-image. As a senior leader of these unglamorous research communities, he has to motivate the younger researchers.
Case: Greg Racioppo, my recruiter, treats his work as his own business. The successful recruiters are often in the same business for many years and make a long term living and even create an impact for their employees (and people like me). They could easily feel “boring” compared to the clients or the candidates, but they don’t have to.
Case: PWM wealth advisors. They could feel “boring” compared to the filthy rich clients they deal with, but in reality, these advisors are more successful than 99% of the population.
Case: The ratio of support staff to traders is about 50:1, but I don’t feel “boring” because of them.
Case: Look at all the staff in a show, movie, supporting the stars.
Since 2010, I have carefully evaluated and executed 3 broad strategies:
- deepen – for zbs + IV
- diversify or branch-out. Breaking into new markets
- stack-up – cautiously
- eg: Deepened my java/SQL/c++/py knowledge for IV and GTD. See post on QQ vs ZZ.
- eg: diversified to c++, c#, quant, swing…
- eg: diversify? west coast.
- eg: diversify? data science
- eg: diversify? research + teach
- eg: stack-up to learn spring, hibernate, noSQL, GWT.
Stack-up — These skills are unlikely to unlock new markets. Lower leverage.
GTD stress/survival on the job? None of these help directly, but based on my observation GTD skill seldom advance my career as a contractor. It could create a bit of spare time, but it’s a challenge to make use of the spare time.
I feel German’s strategy goes beyond tech skills. He treats tech skills as a tool, used to implement his business ideas to create business value. I feel his target role is a mix of architect/BA but more like “product visionary”. It’s somewhat like stack-up.
–Mac over 18M
C++ compilation/linking? a bit
–OC over 23M
MSVS? But no critical mass yet
Spare time for UChicago
Very few peers are so conscious of burn^rot. Higher utilization of spare time is a key strength during my US peak + my dotcom peak + also my high school. We could analyze what’s common and what’s different between these peaks…
Outside those peaks, I also used this strength to complete my UChicago program, but the tangible benefit is smaller.
(This is different from efficiency on the job. Many efficient colleagues spend less time in office but get more done. My style involves sacrificing personal spare time and family time.)
Looking forward, I guess this strength could be strategic for research-related domains, including any job involving some elements of research and accumulation.
A repeated manager praise for me is “broad-based”, related to this strength.
My strengths – quick but more than superficial learning of (in random order):
- finmath, financial jargon,
- Comp Science practical topics:
- OO fundamentals
- algo, data structures,
- basic tuning of DB + others
- language fundamentals (more respected in the java, c++, c#, SQL than python communities)
- versatile in many important languages
- relative familiarity with scripting, unix, SQL, but not IDE, version control etc
- relatively quick whiteboard (not compiler) coding
This strength turned out to be extremely valuable on Wall St consulting market.
My key weakness identified in recent jobs (not counting the IV defeats):
- learning local system
- large existing codebase – AutoReo, GS
- superfast GTD