What are the top 3 qualities of an exceptional software engineer?

ask an engineer series

Every month, we’re asking our engineering team to give us their brightest insights on best practices, trends, and methodologies. This month, we asked thinkbridge’s Managing Director Nikesh Mehata this tough question:

Q: What are the top 3 qualities of an exceptional software engineer?
A: I would say a plethora of qualities, in various measures, are needed to make an exceptional software professional including critical design thinking, problem-solving abilities, technical aptitude, dexterity, detailing, and dedication to name a few. But if I have to pick only three – if a person can imbibe, all of the other qualities will follow – would be humility, hunger, and meraki. I am going a bit philosophical here so please bear with me!

Be humble for knowledge. In the software space, technology is changing ever so quickly, so our current knowledge and skills are inevitably bound to be obsolete. We should always be mindful that our current depth and width of knowledge is just a trickle compared to the extent of what is out there! This helps avoid hubris and becoming complacent.

Once you feel humility for the minuscule nature of your knowledge, a hunger to expand yourself should set in. Work in any ambit then becomes a source for you to satiate your hunger. You are then not averse to any project, technology, domain, stack, role, people, client, as any and all kind of work and situations fulfills as well as expands your hunger at the same time!

Meraki is a Greek word meaning to put a part of yourself in anything you do, but I like to look at it in a bit of reverse. It’s about where everything you do becomes a part of you. A strong sense of belonging, but instead of you belonging to work, the work belongs to you! Then just as you would not misspell your name anywhere ever, or serve bad food to your loved ones, or scratch or smash your favorite phone, you ensure that any task you perform is as savory, burnished, and as pristine as possible. You do whatever it takes every day, and your work becomes your unique signature in life.