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ISB PGPMAX Essay Review package
Note: ABC Group and ABC Limited is a fictitious organization name assumed for the purpose of writing sample essays.
ISB PGPMAX Essay 1: What has been your most significant achievement to date? Please explain why you consider it to be so.
In Feb 2014, at ABC Group conference, the Chairman shared his ambitious Business Vision for 2015-16 and emphasized the need for Finance Transformation to cope up with the business plans of the Rs 900 crore group. After extensive deliberation, it emerged that Shared Services was the single most important step towards finance transformation. Along with the CFO, I was nominated to take forward this initiative for the Rs 640 crore flagship, ABC Limited (‘ABCL'). This was an additional responsibility which I had to handle along with my regular responsibilities.
We selected Purchase to Pay process and the Payroll Process for migration in the initial phase.
As the conceptualization stage, we identified a number of key challenges which ranged from selling the new concept to the team, training and relocating the employees, reducing the head count, redeploying the additional manpower to other division and negotiating outsourced and flexi hours with the union.
Further, on execution side we identified that the major challenge was Process reengineering. This involved selection of right document management software for Bills processing and implementation of SAP Payroll module for Non-Management Staff. The migration process was very challenging due to geographically dispersed multi-location set up of ABCL.
All the above challenges were addressed with a strategic approaches and attained buy in from all levels. I continually communicated the path to success and got buy-in from even those who were initially skeptical. Activities such as submission of concept paper to managing director, visit to all factories and timely communication led to the increased acceptance of the concept. I addressed operational issues by setting up a team in each factory to study the process gaps vis-à-vis the standardized mode and take steps to rectify the deficiencies. I took the worker union into confidence for with written assurance for timely wage payments. As a result of these efforts, within 6 months of initiating the efforts, we successfully started processing the Payroll for 800 employees and Accounts payable for 220 vendors.
The potential benefits of the shared services for the organization were much more than anticipated. The processing time for invoices reduced and account reconciliation decreased due to standardized processes. This led to 40% saving in time in processing invoices and savings of 20% in manpower costs. The centralized processes also provided robust MIS for management decision making. This also helped the business by providing agility, acceleration of business growth and risk mitigation.
.I played multiple roles of a Strategist, Team Leader, Consultant, Change Agent and Controller of Costs to deliver what was assigned. I believe I achieved this success due to my inherent strength in solving complex problems, seeing beyond what is obvious and give my best in a given situation.
My efforts were recognized by the management and I was elevated to the position of Director-Finance for Consumer Vertical of the group.
ISB PGPMAX Essay 2: What is your motivation to pursue an Post Graduate Program in Management for Senior Executives?
The six year stint at ABCL has been a very enriching experience both professionally and personally for me. I have progressed from being a Finance Controller of ABCL's manufacturing facilities to Director-Finance for Consumer Vertical of the Company. This experience has provided me with complete exposure of Business Cycle from Manufacturing to Marketing. This experience is suitably supplemented by my exposure to Project and Construction finance during my stint in RockSurface Limited ( fictitious company).
At this point in my career I am determined to build on my existing experience and broaden the set of opportunities available to me. My vision for my future has three dimensions (a) Overall financial and business dimensions to my life (b) Working in dynamic and progressive environment (c) Ability to utilize the skill, knowledge and experience that I have gained in the finance domain.
With the above aspirations, the immediate opportunity for me is to continue working within the Finance domain and gain promotion as a Vice President and eventually as the CFO.
To meet my short term vision in minimum time in a professionally managed enterprise, I see my existing educational qualification as a limitation. In competitive terms, an B.Com. qualification is nowhere close to Chartered Accountancy or an MBA Finance from a top tier business school. Thus, to achieve my medium term goals by becoming a CFO, an MBA from a top tier school like ISB would be a step in the right direction.
My long term goal is be a CEO of a large professionally managed enterprise like ABCL. A CEO position is a highly result oriented position which works for a bigger objective, can bring tangible difference to society and create value for shareholders and his team.
I am aware that the challenges and skill sets required for a CEO position is very different from that required to become a CFO. A CEO would require a more holistic understanding of different aspects of an organization like marketing, operations, strategy, information technology which I expect to get from an MBA program like that offered by ISB. Additionally, a CEO position would also require strong network amongst professionals which I expect to gain from the vibrant ISB alumni network. Finally, it appears that an MBA is final glass ceiling which is required to be broken to attain a CEO position in a large corporate house. I expect to break that ceiling through an ISB MBA. In ABC group, a number of CFOs are routinely nominated for the CEO position by the group. The group prefers finance professionals to head its companies. But to be able to compete effectively with my peers and get an edge, I believe a comprehensive MBA program like that offered by ISB would be a great advantage.
ISB PGPMAX Essay 3: The programme requires a lot of understanding of management theory and mathemetical concepts. It also incorporates examinations and other forms of assessment? After many years of being away from formal studies, how do you plan to adjust to an extremely rigorous academic life and how can ISB be assured of you successfully completing the programme?
My current employers, the ABC Group, are known for investment in human resources. The underlying philosophy of the group is to enhance human resource so that they can effectively manage other resources to achieve the given objective. The culture of learning is prominent and training programs on functional and behavioral skills are routinely imparted. For senior leadership, the attendance to these trainings is compulsory. Management widely encourages employee continuous learning initiatives.
Apart from the regular trainings, the Company has focused leadership development programmes for selected group of individuals to augment the leadership pipelines of the group. I was a member in a number of those programmes like Program X, Program Y, Program Z ( fictitious names) and hence been exposed to continuous learning processes at my current work place.
I had been nominated and have attended the Program A designed and facilitated by ex-IIM Faculty. 25 members from across the ABC group were selected through a competitive process which involved written test, GD and personal interviews by a panel of group CEOs. This program mirrored an MBA program and involved intensive residential session at one of the IIMs. This course content was designed on the case study method and involved sessions on Innovation, Presentation Skills, Business Etiquette, Business Strategy and Behavioral finance. I was one of the top performers in the program who successfully completed the entire course and received good feed back from the faculty.
I have also been fortunate to participate in a week long programme designed at a top business school in Singapore. This program was designed for small group of 30 senior members of the Company and was delivered CFO/Industry leaders. The rigorous program involved case studies and business simulations and required intensive 18-19 hour efforts on a daily basis for 7 days.
Additionally, as a Finance Head, I have to routinely spend long hours during monthly accounts closing process. The situation is even worse more during quarter ends and year ends. As the finance function is under constant scrutiny during to various audits and compliances, we have to be always be on our toes and work hard to meet the deadlines. I have always handled these challenges and have ensured my deliverables reach out on time.
My family is well aware about my job profile and my aspirations. They have adapted well to the long hours and support me in my endeavor to do an ISB MBA.