Taking SWOT to a personal level

Taking SWOT to a personal level

SWOT is a handy tool not only for businesses, but for individuals to identify one’s professional brand and development. Read on to discover how you can create your own SWOT and how it can help your career!

If you have taken a first-year business class at university, you are probably already aware what SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is used for, and why it’s important. As a small refresher, SWOT analysis is a framework used to evaluate a company's competitive position and to develop strategic planning, helping assess internal and external factors, as well as current and future potential. 

A lesser-known use of SWOT, however, is how an individual can apply it for both personal development and enhanced personal branding. A recent visit to RMIT Vietnam’s MBA program by Dr. Rajeev Chib, COO of Client and Business Development at Citi Bank Asia, saw Dr. Chib discuss the use of SWOT at the individual level. He did so while teaching the Personal Branding and Authentic Leadership course. 

From the class, there are three points of importance to note about personal SWOT analysis: 

  1. Conducting a personal SWOT audit helps you identify not only your core skills, strengths and areas of concern for you to address, but it can also help you discover a direction for personal and professional development and set your brand on the right path. 
  2. Through SWOT analysis, you will be able to identify strengths, skills and opportunities that are beneficial for the development of your brand, and you will also be able to neutralise or overcome threats that could hinder you from achieving your ambitions, goals, and purpose.
  3. Once you have an established personal brand, you should then come back and conduct a regular SWOT analysis to monitor how you are tracking against your goals.
Dr. Rajeev Chib at RMIT Vietnam Dr. Rajeev Chib at RMIT Vietnam

Dr. Chib notes through the process of discovering your brand’s DNA, a common initial obstacle is identifying one’s weaknesses and threats. Thus, in order to properly fill each quadrant, Dr. Chib confides that the beginning of the exercise starts by plotting your lifeline and charting it out from your adolescent days to early childhood and onwards to the present. By doing so, you are able to deeply reflect on your journey. “How did you fare at relationship building? What do you see as your values, beliefs and passions and how do they align?” Dr. Chib asks. “Then move on and study those alignments as well as any possible misalignments you might have uncovered.” Dr. Chib labels this important first step as ‘peeling the onion to its roots.’

However, even with a profound deep dive into your own history, you yourself cannot be an impartial observer. So, much like finding an editor to look over your school essays and reports, so too with a personal SWOT, you must find other diverse stakeholders who know you well and receive their feedback on what you have outlined. Hopefully by doing so, you are able to identify any biases you may have. 

Once these steps have been achieved, SWOT simply becomes another tool in your professional development toolkit. You should be able to use the analysis to help you align your smart goals, such as figuring out if they are achievable and reasonable. It will also help identify "specialisms" – that is, determining areas of specialisation and one’s most impactful attributes. But, as noted before, you must make a calibrated effort and every few months revisit your SWOT. Keep asking yourself what does good look like and how good is good?

If you are curious to learn more about how Dr. Chib taught the Personal Branding and Authentic Leadership course, you can check out it here.


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