Know Yourself

MongoDB has a nice leadership development program internally. They suggested that filling/sharing this questionnaire would be useful to get you acquainted with the people you work with daily. I am not super into being in-touch with your feelings stuff, so I thought I probably won't do this. But then, the questions were interesting, and I jot down my answers to them quickly. I don't think this took me more than 5 minutes or so, and I felt good after having answered the questions. Maybe this gave me a little bit of self-acceptance, and being kind to my innate nature rather than judging it all the time. The questionnaire description was spot on: "Increase awareness of your own preferences by answering the questions below."

Here are my answers to these questions. What would your answers be? I think it is good practice to do this exercise once in a while to know yourself a bit better.

What are you AMAZING at? Where do you want to improve?

I am good at research. I enjoy being driven by my curiousity, going down a rabbit hole, and chasing an interesting idea. I do my best work, when I am lead by my curiosity.

I am good at analyzing and evaluating research papers. I am also good at explaining complex concepts in simple terms, and popularizing research and exposition of research.

Where do I want to improve? I want to improve my research output. I am looking forward to writing research papers. 


What makes you most excited about your work/role?

I am very excited about working at a resarch role and getting to publish papers. I am also excited about having company-wide impact and working close to developers at different parts of MongoDB. 

Describe an ideal workday. (e.g. What hours are you working? What style of work are you doing? Are you working alone or meeting with people? Where are you? )

I have my coffee and start working at 8am writing/researching or modeling with TLA+. I work uninterrupted until noon. I have brunch at noon. Then I meet in a small setup (with another person, or two other people at most) discussing research. The meeting includes brainstorming and workshopping ideas. The meeting is for one hour, but if it is productive it goes for two hours. I finish the day doing followup work on the topic.    

How do you like to receive feedback, both positive and constructive? (e.g. in person or email? Publicly or privately?)

I think receiving the feedback in writing would be better for me. That way I would be able to accept it with less emotion and objectively, and analyze and process it better.

I like to think that I am very coachable. I try to accept feedback without ego in the way in order to improve myself. But I am still somewhat insecure, so it is important that I perceive that the feedback is given with best intentions and is given in a way to support me and improve things.  

How do you best process information? (e.g. reading, watching videos, discussing, etc.)

I process information best by reading. When reading I can actively engage with the content and process it without distractions. This gives me time to analyze the information, digest it, and question it.

I have also found watching videos useful. But it is easier to fall to a passive position while watching videos, and I am really not good at keeping my attention if I am not actively engaged (say with using pen and paper).

I like discussing research, but this would be with people I know and I feel comfortable with.

What is your meeting participation style?

I have ADHD tendencies, and I can get lost if I don't get actively involved in the conversation more than a couple of minutes. I am afraid I listen with my mouth. If I don't intercept quickly to clarify an ambiguity I have, I am unable to continue to be engaged with the rest of the discussion. 

Describe your working relationship with your best manager. 

I think my best manager is just a mentor that works with me rather than a manager that critically evaluates me. My best manager was my PhD advisor. He was hands off. He gave me space when I needed it, and worked with me when I was on the tail of something interesting. He had been an intellectual sparring partner, and intellectual inspiration. In sum, my best manager is someone that believes in me, supports me, and works with me.

What support do you need from your manager/team when you’re going through a challenge? 

I need to feel that I am being supported rather than judged. I need to feel the good will to help genuinely. Sometimes getting some slack and flexibility helps. 

What is something that people incorrectly assume about you?

I think people may think I am a clear thinker with an organized brain and methodical mastery. In contrast, I am better at operating more intuitively rather than methodically. 

I know clear thinkers. They are very organized and methodical. I am not like that. I am a messy learner and messy thinker. My learning mode is context based, rather than methodical.

I am not good at reacting on the spot, I need time to process and analyze information. So, I prefer the offline mode of writing as the best way of communication.

What do you need from your team/manager in order to make time for personal priorities? 

I love doing research following my curiousity. I need to keep things interesting, and avoid routine and rot. I may need some time and license to play around with side problems/projects.


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