“Describe yourself in one word”

I have always been against questions that aim to categorize a person into one or a few trivial adjectives. It is as if the entirety of an individual’s life experiences boil down to what they believe the interviewer would want to hear at that moment. It is seldom a genuine answer and adds no value to the interview overall.

Sure, I could say: Motivated, Active, Responsible, Versatile, Analytical, Productive, Organized, Focused, Flexible, or any other cliche and overused word that can apply to anyone given a particular circumstance. What does that do for you, as the interviewer? What do you know about me other than my choice of a fleeting, opportunistic, and heavily circumstantial adverb?

“Tell me about yourself”

I am lucky in the sense that my line of work and professional experience have allowed me to obtain immense expertise in a variety of functions and industries. I am an entrepreneur, manager, business consultant, researcher, surveyor, programmer, and data scientist. To sum it all up, my professional and life experiences during the last decade have been primarily focussed on increasing efficiencies and optimizing processes.

My undergraduate studies at UCLA provided me with a fundamental understanding of evolutionary psychology, and how the modern human mind works. The subject not only fascinated me but also plays a critical role in my professional life, especially in regards to marketing, negotiations, and managing business relationships. Notions of altruism, goodwill, and CSR all make more sense when viewed through the lens of such metatheoretical frameworks.

After receiving my MBA from Georgetown University, I opted to return to my industry of choice and rebuild it from the ground up. The year was 2015, and big data was making its way to even the most niche of all industries. It was no longer enough to know the ins and outs of your own industry, you needed to know more. As the managing director of my company, I pushed our efforts to focus heavily on supply chain management and supply chain resiliency. This naturally led to more involvement in the research and analytics side of the business.

As a manager, it is my responsibility to ensure my colleagues are more resilient individuals when they leave than when they came in. If not, I do not deserve the title. Since 2018, I have added emphasis on expanding our research and analytics departments, focusing on implementing novel automation systems, both internally for our company, and externally for our clients. These systems are built to supplement smaller teams, allowing them to work more efficiently while simultaneously expanding their technical knowledge base through continued use and development of such systems.

I firmly believe that all individuals, regardless of job function, should have a distinct and conceptual understanding of research methodology and programming, as these skill sets are critical in ensuring their resilience in an ever-evolving global market.

In these last few years, my admiration for research and data analytics has grown immensely. Many of these skills were self-taught, pertinent to an assigned client project. While I am not saying I no longer love the management side of business, I feel my true passion lies in research and discovery. Finding a previously unknown element to solve a seemingly endless puzzle is really what drives that motivation.

As such, in my spare time, I partner with many institutions and individuals focusing on research and analytics outside my direct industries. I have made significant contributions to research in the fields of business, politics, law, and education. These endeavors have shown me that my true passion is not focussed on any particular industry, but rather, the function; the formulation, analysis, and drawing of large scale conclusions to increase efficiencies, and optimize processes.

Looks like we’ve come full circle.

-Sherafgan Khan