Hi, this question is for czh-ga or any other answerers who might have
a background in HR or counseling.
I'm looking for good suggestions on how to retool my career, based on
my present skills, experience, interests, and also my personality
I'll give some information about myself here but if you need more I'll
be glad to provide responses in the comments section.
I'm male, 31, my Myers Briggs is INTJ (or maybe INTP) and my Enneagram is 5.
I studied Architecture in college and have a masters degree in Urban
Planning from a top university (graduated in 2001). I performed well
but not outstandingly. Half the time I was doing other projects and
working part-time outside of school. I took more courses than I
actually got round to attending, but got A's in most that I did.
I originally went into real estate because I wanted to developing my
finance skills, in which I have no formal training. The idea of
'making places' fascinates me and I hoped the skills would help me
develop my own properties in the future. I should note that I am not a
natural with numbers, but intended to train myself on the job.
I'm now into my second year working at a Tokyo-based real estate
investment firm as a financial analyst. I am part of a small team
doing valuation, underwriting, due diligence and closing of property
acquisitions. Previously I had a similar, but more of a research role
at another company, which I left after two years because they weren't
making any actual investments.
I worked hard at the job. For six months this year I was involved in a
very complex, detailed, and time-consuming transaction under an
especially demanding and emotional supervisor. Fortunately we did see
it through, although with some trial and error on my part. This
infuriated my boss several times. But I was hoping to move on to other
deals and eventually become a team leader myself.
This week, in my annual review meeting, my supervisor told me that my
performance as acquisitions analyst was substandard and he would be
pulling me from the position. He gave a few reasons why I wasn't a
good fit -
1. Lack of attention to detail - mistakes kept creeping into my numbers
2. Lack of communication, my aversion to show weakness or ask questions
3. Lack of knowledge in corporate finance and tax issues
He also criticized me for putting personal priorities ahead of work
(such as when my partner was sick), and being aloof or cold when
delegating work to others. I am not good with people. He did cite,
though, that my information gathering/synthesis, language skills,
written communication, presentation, and computer/technical skills
I was surprised with the decision. My errors weren't large, or so I'd
thought. It just hasn't sunk in yet that I would have to change what
I've been doing for four years now.
I have a week to come up with my own proposal for a new role within
the company. If they decide not to take up my offer, I would have to
look for a new job. I earn about the average for my current role, but
I would have to change my lifestyle if my pay goes down. My local
market is booming, and so there is demand for analysts at other firms,
but I now hesitate, fearing that I would fail again if it were the
What should I do?
Request for Question Clarification by
02 Dec 2005 16:09 PST
I?m intrigued by your story but I also find that there are key pieces
missing so it?s difficult to give you specific suggestions for how to
proceed. There are some basic principles involved in career planning
which include self-assessment, exploring the world of work, choosing a
target job and career, pursuing and landing the job and monitoring
progress. You're at the monitoring progress stage but I don't know
what happened at some of the earlier steps.
You are asking for advice because you?ve hit a snag in your performing
well in your chosen job and career. This is making you question
whether you?ve made an appropriate career choice. The story you tell
is intriguing but doesn?t give me sufficient information to be able to
suggest the next step. Please tell me more about where you?ve been and
where you hope to be going.
Your say your driving interest is ?making places? and you hope to go
into property development. You studied architecture and urban planning
but decided to work in real estate investments in order to develop
your finance skills even though you had no education and training in
finance. Your reasoning for this succession of choices is not clear to
What do you mean when you say you you?re interested in ?making
places?? Does your degree in architecture mean that you?re interested
in designing buildings? Why did you choose this major? Why did you
pursue the master?s in urban planning? Instead of designing individual
buildings, are you interested in designing urban environments? How do
these degrees relate to your interest in going into property
development? I would like to know more about your educational choices
and what are your long-term career goals.
I?d like to get a better understanding of your initial job choices. I
can see that going to work for a real estate investment firm could be
related to your goal of becoming a real estate developer. What I don?t
understand is why you decided that taking a job as a financial analyst
without financial training was a good career move. It seems like a
setup for stress at a minimum and could guarantee failure as a worst
case. Obviously, you were able to sell yourself to your employer as a
good candidate for the financial analyst job so you must have some
qualifications. It sounds like you ended up in a job that is highly
unsuitable to your personality and interests.
I?m also wondering about your status as ?not Japanese? in Tokyo. Does
this have any bearing on your job and career choices? Are there any
issues about your acceptance in the workplace? Your comments about
your supervisor seem to say that you thought the evaluation you
received surprised you but was essentially fair. Am I understanding
this correctly or do you think you?ve been treated unfairly?
I?m wondering when you completed the personality assessments that gave
you your MBTI and Enneagram scores. Have you participated in prior
career counseling? How do you interpret your scores? What do these
types mean to you? I'd also like to know about your values and what
represents success for you.
If you could do anything at all, what would you like to do next? What
would the high points of a successful career look like?
I look forward to your clarifications.
~ czh ~
Clarification of Question by
05 Dec 2005 03:22 PST
Thanks very much for your response.
At the risk of being long-winded, I'll try to clarify:
Yes, 'making places' is a vague notion. It's my expression of a
personal goal, which is that I want to be involved in creating new
buildings or physical environments for people, which can improve their
quality of life. In my studies I attempted to approach this from a
theoretical angle, but in my work life I've found the business side
more realistic and lucrative.
I come from an academic family. I chose architecture when I first
entered college in Japan, because I had always been interested in both
design and science. My uncle, a successful architect, was also an
influence. I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation, but in the end
found the architect's scope of control too limited, and the
discussions on design too abstract, unrealistic. Some of the best
architects never get their work built for regulatory or funding
issues, and less talented ones drudge for low pay. In time, I became
less enthusiastic about pursuing a career in architecture.
At my professor's suggestion, I studied urban planning in grad school.
I was interested to learn how the planner could be a 'place maker'.
Although influential, I found the planner's role more passive than
active, and sometimes too legalistic and bureaucratic. At around the
same time, I was also moving towards real estate. As a sophomore I
answered an ad for a 'development assistant' for an expansion of the
local shopping center. It was through this part-time job that I had
discovered the industry. I saw that, ultimately, the developers were
the driving agents of what I wanted to be part of. I needed to train
myself in their language, which is finance, and found demand high and
the pay rewarding. I received on-the-job training in my first two jobs
and proceeded to land my current job. The people here were impressed
with my experience, my technical education, and my confidence. What we
didn't realize, of course, that it may not have been suitable for me.
If I could do anything... well this is a hard question, because I'd
set out my stepping stones with a mind on becoming a big real estate
developer, and I slipped and here I am soaking wet. A miscalculation.
The first certified failure of my career. I still want to head in that
direction. I just need to figure out what the necessary steps are. But
despondent and stressed, I'm even questioning if the goal should be in
To answer some of your other questions: being non-Japanese has not
been a big issue in my current environment. Of course, managers have
hesitated to include me in positions such as sales or consulting, but
that is pragmatic - given many Japanese find it hard to relate easily
to a foreigner, even if he looks Asian like me. I'm not a big people
person anyway. If anything, being bilingual has been an advantage for
me. And while his conclusions were harsh, I do respect my supervisor
for being fair. Despite my efforts, my work is not up to the team's
standards. And he did offer a second chance at the company. Actually,
it was he who suggested that my personality might be part of the
problem, so I decided to do some assessments - and I came up with
those Myers-Briggs and Eneagram scores. So they're quite recent.
Your last question is about my values. I guess one of my core values
is independence, both for myself and for other people. I want to have
a good quality of life, not having to worry about money. But I also
value a balance of work and home. This is hard to find in Japan, where
people live to work instead of the other way round. My family is
important. I don't hold or stand for any deep religious or political
convictions, and I respect people's freedom, but I like harmony and am
basically conservative in outlook.
I hope this helps, and thanks for your time.