Mustafa Furniturewala on Soft Skills

July 7, 2020

Mustafa Furniturewala is a Senior Director of Engineering at Coursera, one of the world’s largest online learning platforms.  

In a special conversation about managing careers, Mustafa spoke with TechTO about the types of skills that people should not ignore.

Before thinking about recruiting, I can talk about my own personal journey. I went from being an individual contributor, to being a manager, to now overseeing a larger organization and providing a kind of vision. And when I took those steps, it was always about focusing on my area and leveling up and learning about new things in that area. So some of those skills I had to actually learn a lot is soft skills like negotiation and communication. I would not ignore those skills, especially as you grow in your career, because they become very important in the latter stages of the career. So I focused on those skills and that was a big part of my learning journey.

Always be curious, always keep learning.

When we interview, we really don’t look for whether the applicant can actually complete the problem. We try to see if they understand the fundamentals and whether they have problem-solving skills. So that's what we look for when we are interviewing. And also the soft skills. Communicating your thought process, thinking out loud, being concise and clear is very important and something we look for.

When it comes to interviews, practice is important. I would also recommend doing kind of a dry runs with a friend or a mentor.

In your professional development, are you more interested in developing practical skills (like coding) or growing the so-called “soft” skills (like communication)?

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