It often happens that the very best of our competencies, strengths and creativities are brought to action when we willingly take on challenges. Right from my childhood, my parents taught me that whenever we face obstacles towards achieving a goal, there only two clear choices (1) to back out of goal-plans and stay in the comfort zone of being “reasonable” or (2) to take it on as a challenge, solve it and seize the opportunity to be in charge of destiny. I have always chosen the later.
As a teenager, I would read through the profiles of business leaders – successful entrepreneurs and top managers in leading corporations. It became increasingly clear that a strong majority of them started early in their business careers and with a marked degree of focus. Realizing my acumen for finance as a subject area, I therefore decided to “get my feet wet” soon after pursing my Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Mumbai (Bombay). Extensive efforts and networking lead me towards a golden opportunity with ABC, the Indian arm of globally reputed Investment Bank. I joined the ABC team as a Junior Analyst. The exciting role involved reporting to senior managers and working in the Capital Markets industry and developing competencies in cutting edge Financial Products and services.
At ABC, I realized that it does take a trained eye to read through different trades and analyze the logic and complexities behind them. The company turned out to be a world in itself! In the first three months (and as junior analyst), I learnt about the life cycle of a trade, the common terminologies used while trading and complexities involved in a trade, the final settlement processes and the nuances of reporting such details to senior management and clientele. I was then handed over the opportunity to handle such complex activities independently. At the company, Professional Trainers and guest lecturers have often been invited to train and develop personnel on various specialized knowledge areas. I thus had the opportunity to learn hands-on and in detail about Capital Markets, Futures and Options, Equity and Equity Derivatives, Foreign Exchange (Options, Spots and Forwards), Advanced Excel and many more knowledge and skill areas of finance.
Within six months of taking my taking charge, a record collection of Commissions of over US$300 Mn. (having no outstanding commissions more than 90 days) was achieved. I received appreciations from senior management, clients and counterparts for 100% accuracy in reporting. Within a year, I was promoted as Analyst and entrusted leading a team of 6 Junior Analysts. I was transitioned to the Foreign Exchange (FX) Settlements Team and developed competencies as a subject matter expert for the company’s operations with DEF. In August 2009, I received a quarterly award for outstanding performance.
Having proven my mettle in handling high volumes of trading transactions, instituting process and ensuring efficient execution, I was entrusted with a special project – spearheading the company’s strategic initiative of direct membership arrangement with ABC. We had, so far, been a “Third Party Member” the world leader in Foreign Exchange settlements. To ensure this prestigious alliance, I located more than 100 prospects (“counterparties”) who could gain by conducting transactions with our company. I pitched our services extensively bringing home the fact that we had emerged to world class standards in credibility, liquidity and credit line in the industry. The project’s fruition resulted in revenue savings in excess of GBP 9 Mn to the company. Having achieved this goal, I took the lead in development and execution of all sub-process of Foreign Exchange – thus ensuring superior service levels to clientele.
With nearly 4 years of success in investment banking, my post-MBA career goal is to grow to the position of a Senior Associate in the Capital Markets Prime Services division of a global Investment Bank. Such an experience will broaden my perspective to face challenges in the global financial services industry and bring in unlimited opportunities to innovate and add value. My long-term aspiration is to establish and operate a financial services firm that focuses on Investment management for Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals and Enterprises and provide financial solutions to Governments, Corporations and Institutional clients. The firm will be focused on the leading edge in mixing asset classes to maximize returns while minimizing risk. The second phase plan includes setting up of a private equity firm that will help other entrepreneurs like me achieve their own dreams; this will provide me with utmost satisfaction.
A Global M.B.A program From ABC university – School of business is crucial towards achieving my career goals at this stage in my career. The School’s approach of cultivating intuition through case studies in finance, strategy and other application areas will help me strengthen my fundamentals and develop well-trained managerial and entrepreneurial instincts. I stand to gain immensely through participation in challenging industry/consulting assignments and thus widen my understanding to a global scale.
The other area of importance to my goals is leadership development. In a people-driven financial services enterprise, the greatest asset is people – their knowledge, enthusiasm, loyalty and cohesion with organizational goals. In addition to specialist courses/training in leadership development, ABC University provides the platform to interact with globally renowned faculty and a diverse student community and develop interpersonal skills and comfort on a global scale. It also opens up vistas for networking extensively with the vast alumni network and learning through seminars from global business leaders. ABC University is thus my most preferred destination pursing an M.B.A program.
Writing the perfect MBA application essay involves brevity, a degree of literary panache, and total honesty. It also helps if you mention you were South Korea’s first astronaut.
It is not a dean’s duty to sift through the thousands of student applications that the world’s most prestigious schools receive each year — they have admissions teams to do that. But they are often asked to pass judgment on the written essays — and increasingly videos and other multimedia applications — from notable candidates, so their opinions on style and content count
Rich Lyons, dean of Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, spotted Yi So-yeon, the first Korean to fly in space, in 2010 from the 15 candidates he was handed. Every year, he receives a sample in each selection round, picked for the exceptional qualities displayed from a pool of about 4,000 applicants.
“I don’t even remember what score she got in the GMAT [admission test], I just knew she would add value,” he says. “You have got to have something special to get through that stage.”
The Shanghai-based China Europe International Business School last year made offers to one in every four of its applicants to fill 180 places on its full-time MBA programme.
Each essay is read and scored by the admissions team — but this is just one element of the selection process, alongside GMAT scores and proven work experience, Yuan Ding, the dean, notes.
“[The essay] is where we learn about applicants’ career aspiration, understanding of China, and writing skills.” He adds that they also look for exaggeration or an economy with the truth.
Applicants to UCLA Anderson School of Management are given a 500-word limit for their essays. They must explain their short and long-term career goals and what their time at the business school would add to their professional development.
The essays are then assessed by at least two admissions team members, each of whom are looking for elements that make them want to accept an applicant, such as unusual work experience, rather than deny them a place, according to Rob Weiler, associate dean for the MBA programme.It pays to be concise, he adds. “If an applicant attempts to add too much supplemental information, chances are they are trying too hard.”
New York University’s Stern School of Business, this year “Instagrammed” its essay format by asking candidates to pick six visual items — photographs, charts and even emojis — and give each a caption, rather than writing a piece of prose. The school’s admissions team, which has assessed about 50,000 essays over the past 15 years, likes innovation, according to Peter Henry, NYU Stern dean. They were looking for creativity and an ability to be succinct and accurate. What makes any application “leap out from the pack” during the admissions process is that the writers can explain their career goals and how NYU Stern would help them achieve these, Prof Henry says.
Barcelona’s IESE business school does not set a format for applications. One applicant recently produced a video as his cover letter — a method of application increasingly common in US schools. But content trumps format, according to Franz Heukamp, the dean.
A place on the course: how MBA admissions work
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a pan-school online exam to assess verbal, analytical and writing skills. The test is required for most business school MBA applications but does not examine business knowledge or general intelligence.
Many business schools also set mandatory essays, which tend to ask applicants to explain their work experiences, why they would excel at the school and how the MBA would help with future career goals. Most set an upper limit of 500 words.
Not all schools set an essay. Some ask for a CV and cover letter.
Shortlisted candidates are usually invited for a formal interview either on campus or online with the admissions team.
“The ones that grab our attention do so not because they say something we have never heard before, are wild or outrageous,” he says. “What makes a cover letter special is when it is very clear that the candidate knows what he or she wants to achieve professionally.”
The most important element of an essay is a “clear and concise” message, according to Winfried Ruigrok, the dean at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland.
“An MBA application stands out if the applicant knows our specific programme strengths, structure and culture,” he says.
SDA Bocconi School of Management was the first European school to add mandatory video interviews to its application process, says its dean, Giuseppe Soda, with candidates required to answer a series of random questions on camera.
Those applying to its 12-month MBA course must also submit two reference letters and attend a face-to-face interview at the school’s Milan campus, as well as performing well in the GMAT exam — its average test score is 665 out of a possible 800, compared with a sector average of about 550.
The video format complements the wider objective of Bocconi’s admissions team, to get to know each candidate by name, according to Prof Soda.
This level of detail is possible at Bocconi — which last year received 375 applications for 132 places — but not feasible for larger institutions. “We want to focus on each candidate’s personal development,” Prof Soda says. “We want to know the students by name.”
Before becoming dean, Prof Soda’s job included reading every essay from the PhD applicants. “The problem was that they were always the same sort of essay,” he says. “Written pieces can be faked so a video seems a better way.”
He anticipates a day when the video test replaces the written elements of the MBA application.
“When you write you have more time to prepare,” he says. “With our video test there is the element of the unexpected. It is not just what they say but how they say it, and there is the pressure of being in front of a camera.”