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Q: Career advice please ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Career advice please
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: hypertokyo2-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 30 Nov 2005 01:17 PST
Expires: 30 Dec 2005 01:17 PST
Question ID: 599359
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
were good.

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
same job.

What should I do?

Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 30 Nov 2005 10:10 PST
Hello hypertokyo2-ga,

Thanks for asking for me. I'm involved with another project today but
I should be able to answer your question tomorrow. I'm leaving this
question unlocked in case someone can give you a more speedy answer.
Back to you shortly.

~ czh ~

Clarification of Question by hypertokyo2-ga on 30 Nov 2005 16:02 PST
Thanks and I look forward to your answer!
As I wrote in the comments : I'm trying to imagine what role I could
play in the same industry, and if possible the same company. I hope my
personality type and the kinds of tasks which I'm good at (as my boss
suggested)can provide a few pointers.

Request for Question Clarification by czh-ga on 02 Dec 2005 16:09 PST
Hello hypertokyo2-ga,

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 hypertokyo2-ga on 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
that direction.

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.
Subject: Re: Career advice please
Answered By: czh-ga on 07 Dec 2005 12:37 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello again hypertokyo2-ga,

The information you?ve shared about yourself shows that you have the
background and training to pursue a variety of options in ?making
places? and ?creating new buildings or physical environments.? The
story of your progress from a degree in Architecture to a masters in
Urban Planning to a financial analyst job with a real estate
investment firm with the ultimate goal of ?becoming a big real estate
developer? hangs together and makes sense.

Your not-quite-satisfactory performance in your financial analyst job
does not seem to be a fatal blow to your end-goals. Rather, it seems
to be an indicator of a need to adjust your choice of stepping-stones
and learning objectives to be more in synch with your values and

The chief difficulty seems to be that the financial analyst job is one
that does not appeal to you and does not offer you great satisfaction.
Although your boss indicated that he thinks this might be because of
an unsuitable job fit because of your personality, the failures you?ve
enumerated in relation to the job you?ve described seem to be more of
a problem with lack of subject matter competence.

The behavioral issues that your boss is concerned with seem to be your
way of dealing with the stress of not having the knowledge and
expertise to handle the content requirements of the job. You indicated
that you had gotten on-the-job training in finance in your prior jobs
but you don?t have the necessary formal education and this is coupled
with your not having a ?natural? affinity for numbers. It?s not
surprising that you didn?t do well in a highly demanding job. It
sounds like you oversold your capabilities and struggled (and
ultimately failed) in doing a good job because of lack of financial
training and skills.

It seems to me you have a knowledge deficit, not a personality
conflict in being able to perform well in your current job. Since your
boss has offered you a second chance, I recommend that you begin your
self-review by taking a rigorous look at your skills and see where
those skills might be a better fit in your company. If having finance
skills is essential to be able to progress in this company and
industry, I recommend that you get the necessary additional training
or education so that you can stay competitive.

Based on what you?ve told me about your situation, I don?t think your
personality is the chief difficulty in your fitting in with this
company. Your personality type is well-suited to the work you?ve
chosen. The problem seems to be more with your fitting in with the
work style and culture of your company and the degree of commitment
and dedication they expect from you. I suggest that you take a close
look at your values and interests and then take an honest look at how
closely you match the values and interests of your company and chosen
industry. If there is a large gap between your needs and wants and
that of the company, you will be under constant stress because of what
will feel like burdensome expectations. You?re the only one who can
decide how great a factor this is in your current (and planned) job
and career and what price you?re willing to pay for the income,
benefits and advantages this career offers.

I organized what you?ve told me into categories that are pertinent to
career decision-making so that I could make sense of your story. I
suggest that you review and flesh out this outline to the point that
you feel satisfied that you know who you are and what you want. Once
you have this information you will be able to survey the opportunities
available at your company and choose another assignment that?s a
better fit.

I hope that this information is useful to you. Please don?t hesitate
to ask for clarification on any of it.

I wish you great success for your career.

~ czh ~


Age 31
?Mixed background? 
Living and working in Japan
-- managers have hesitated to include me in positions such as sales or consulting
 -- being bilingual has been an advantage for me

BS Architecture 
MS Urban Planning, 2001 (top university) 
Grades good, not outstanding
-- my technical education

Experience, Work History:
1)  Part-time work while in school 
 -- development assistant for shopping center expansion

2)  Researcher (2 years) in real estate firm
 -- left because not getting investment experience

3)  Financial Analyst, (2 years) Tokyo-based real estate investment firm 
 -- Small team
 -- Valuation
 -- Underwriting
 -- Due diligence
 -- Property acquisition closing
 -- Six month project (very complex, detailed, time-consuming, demanding boss)
 -- impressed with my experience
 -- learn their language, which is finance

Skills and Performance:
Boss? Feedback
 -- Lack of attention to detail
 -- Lack of communication, aversion to asking questions
 -- Lack of corporate finance and tax knowledge
 -- Putting personal priorities ahead of work
 -- Aloof and cold when delegating work to others
 -- Good at information gathering/synthesis
 -- Good language skills [as opposed to communication skills?]
 -- Good written communications and presentation skills
 -- Good computer and technical skills
 -- respect my supervisor for being fair
 -- my work is not up to the team's standards

Enneagram = 5
 -- basically conservative in outlook.
 -- I respect people's freedom, but I like harmony
 -- my personality might be part of the problem
 -- my confidence

 -- value a balance of work and home. My family is important. 
 -- good quality of life, not having to worry about money
 -- core values is independence, both for myself and for other people
 -- pay rewarding
 -- drudge for low pay (want good pay)

Preferences, Interests:
?Making places? fascinates me --> architecture --> city planning --> real estate
Went into real estate to develop finance skills ? no formal training in finance.
Not ?natural? with numbers.
Not good with details.
Not good with team relationships.
 -- interested in both design and science
 -- enjoyed the intellectual stimulation
 -- architect's scope of control too limited (want control of projects, goals)
 -- discussions on design too abstract, unrealistic (want concrete and realistic) 
 -- planner's role more passive than active (want active participation)
 -- too legalistic and bureaucratic (want proactive and decisive)
 -- studies - a theoretical angle
 -- business side more realistic and lucrative.

Would like to develop own properties in the future
 -- becoming a big real estate developer,
 -- still want to head in that direction
 -- developers were the driving agents of what I wanted to be part of
 -- want to be involved in creating new buildings or physical environments


Myers Briggs Type Indicator
INTJ/INTP in teams

Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging
Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

The Portrait of the Mastermind Rational (iNTj)
The Portrait of the Architect Rational (iNTp)

Great careers for INTJ/INTP

Careers for INTJ/INTP Personality Types

Connecting Personality Types With Careers and Jobs

Enneagram Type 5 - The Investigator
Thinkers who tend to withdraw and observe

Type 5. Thinker
The Observer (the Five)

THE INVESTIGATOR -- Enneagram Type Five

The Enneagram: Point Five:  The Observer

University of Waterloo
Career Development eManual, Steps to Success

***** This is an excellent site for taking a step-by-step approach to
reviewing your career options.

Career Development and Job Search Advice for New College Graduates

Careers in Real Estate

What is the nature of Columbia's MSRED program?

What do most graduates do upon completion?
Graduates from our program who do not immediately form their own
development companies have historically been employed by firms either
practicing or financing real estate development. Additional hirings
come from within the REIT, institutional funding, project management,
development or redevelopment, planning, market analysis and finance

Careers in real estate development

real estate development jobs OR careers
real estate investment jobs OR careers
real estate development Japan
hypertokyo2-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you very much. I appreciate the insight, which will helps me
greatly in determining my next steps. Besides a similar role at
another company, I hope to also explore alternative roles for me
within the real estate industry.

Subject: Re: Career advice please
From: frde-ga on 30 Nov 2005 05:34 PST
From your use of language, it is hard to tell what nationality you are
- if Japanese then you have an excellent command of English
- regardless, your spelling, grammar and presentation are extremely good

I'm not at all qualified to give career advice, although it has seldom
stopped me in the past.  Often the best advice involves finding out
what someone really wants to do - or more accurately getting them to
find out for themselves.

Obviously you are aware of your weaknesses, and made a conscious
decision to eradicate one of them when you moved into a numerate
discipline with 'no formal training'.

I imagine that you are well aware that 'teams' are made up of people
with heterogenous abilities - since polymaths are unusual.

My first inclination is to suggest that you go back to your supervisor
and ask him whether he can see any roles for you in the current

If he is determined to sack you, then he'll do it anyway.
It might be that he can see a role for you, but wants to scare you
into accepting it.

Generally, in my view, it is most sensible to hang onto a current
situation as it gives one an opportunity to look around for something
better, unless one is itching for a change and consciously or
subconsciously trying to precipitate an upheaval.

One final point, I am disgusted to hear that you had an 'annual
appraisal', such things are not necessary
- one should be continuously appraising people that one 'supervises' 
- to save it up for a Spartan Helot's Day is malign and incredibly inefficient.
Subject: Re: Career advice please
From: hypertokyo2-ga on 30 Nov 2005 07:56 PST
Thank you for the helpful comments, frde-ga.
No, I'm actually not Japanese - I have a mixed background, though have
lived in Tokyo for most of my adult life. Thanks for your compliments.
Yes, my interest in 'making places' has led me from architecture to
city planning to real estate, but now I've hit a wall. I have to admit
that I'm simply not good enough with small details or with team
relationships to excel at my current role.
Since I do want to keep building my present career, albeit with a
different angle, I'm trying to imagine what role I could play in the
same industry, and if possible the same company. I hope my personality
type and the kinds of tasks which I'm good at (as my boss suggested)
can provide a few pointers.
Subject: Re: Career advice please
From: frde-ga on 01 Dec 2005 07:58 PST
They were observations, not compliments :-}
If your Japanese is as good as your English, then I would say that you
are pretty valuable.

It sounds as if you have only been working full time for four years,
there is plenty of time to hone up your 'weaknesses', ideally by
teaming up with people who are strong in those areas - and learning
from watching them.

In my past, I have normally teamed up with smart people who have
extremely strong interpersonal skills, generally such people have weak
analytical skills and tend to leave things to the last minute.

One day you will probably be running developments with a highly
numerate sidekick and a PA who is a stickler for details.

Personally, my view is that you need to spend some time working for a
superb man manager.
I am distinctly unimpressed with your supervisor's behaviour, for a
start he has stored up grudges and hit you with them in one blast,
when your partner is ill he should order you out of the office, if he
thinks you are making minor mistakes he should get someone else to
check your work on a friendly basis.

I am looking forward to Czh-ga's analysis.
Subject: Re: Career advice please
From: cvr-ga on 06 Dec 2005 06:37 PST
Hello hypertokyo2-ga,

Just adding a comment not because I am a career planner, but rather
because of some parallels I see - I am American, 31 years old, living
and working in Tokyo, INTJ (but have turned up INTP on occasion).  For
the last year and a half have been working for an American
multinational financial services firm in a role that - I am realizing
now - is not really for me. (The company is American but everyone is
Japanese, and I operate in Japanese.)  Also our year-end performance
review is coming up and I can predict how it will go.  I think it will
go along the lines of what your manager has said to you.

This year I went to a workshop during which we identified our "Work
Styles" and also our "Motivation," both concepts which got me
thinking.  I found them somewhat useful to me as supplementary
information to something like a Myers-Briggs Personality Type or

"Work Styles" concept (by Forum) divides the world into fours: Doers /
Problem Solvers / Integrators / Brainstormers.  This helps you
identify the ways you are likely to approach a new challenge, the ways
you gather information, and the ways you communicate with others.  We
went through it to help each of us identify our value or contribution
in a team environment.  The results only verified what I knew on a
non-verbal, gut level. However, the exercise helped me as it got me to
think about it systematically.

"Motivation" - the Acquired Needs Concept - is a concept that says we
are motivated by a combination of Power, Association, or Achievement
needs, usually leaning towards one or two, and in rarer cases, equal
parts of all three. I found these later at:
among other places.  

I still have the diagnostic tools for both if you are interested.

Anyhow, I too am looking forward to czh-ga's and your analysis.
Subject: Re: Career advice please
From: hypertokyo2-ga on 06 Dec 2005 21:19 PST
Thanks for the comment. 
It's amazing to find a fellow 31-year-old-INTJ-foreigner-in-Tokyo
facing a similar work dilemma. The odds of that must be amazing.
I would really like to find out more about the assessments which you
mentioned. Since I cannot contact you through this forum, if you have
time please email me at the address below. Hope to hear from you and
looking forward to sharing our resources.


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