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SMU Essay 1 : Why do you want to earn an MBA and why are you choosing to apply to SMU? If you are selected, how will you contribute to the SMU MBA programme?
I have thoroughly enjoyed working on diverse projects with diverse teams at XX. My role involved an exciting mix of being a market data analytics expert, a domain specialist and a seasoned project management professional. Four promotions across four years have been a testimonial for my ability to go beyond the call of duty and be an exceptional performer.
I attribute my success not only to my top of the line strong technical and soft skills, but also to my ability to continuously learn and evolve in a diverse and dynamic setting. While leading the XX team, I was responsible for developing processes and workflows for new projects -- closely working with XX leads based across the world-- and training larger user groups based out of varied locations. The job also required me to acquire new knowledge and learn new tools all the while.
My positive & unassuming attitude and creative bent of mind helped me to break mental barriers , leading me to visualize each challenge as an opportunity—As a new recruit I was trained to work at a two year old process. I was quickly able to notice that the process was highly mechanical and could be automated. I researched on various tools that could be utilized, learned them and automated the tasks bringing efficiencies of over 50% in the process. As of today, I have helped save over $ 0.2Mn annum by re-engineering over eight organizational processes.
Over the years I have realized how corporations are leveraging XX to develop a competitive advantage for themselves. During the first two years post MBA, I intend to develop further expertise in executing advanced analytics projects, working as an associate with a niche financial analytics consulting firm. This experience will enable me to work on diverse consulting projects covering a wide gamut of projects in the financial services industry and not just in the markets data space.
In the long run backed by my knowledge and expertise of handling XX projects and experience of dealing with people from diverse cultures and industries, I see myself in a XX role in Asia. The financial market data industry alone clocked over USD XX billion in revenue in XX. The broader industry is slated to grow at consistent rates in the coming years as the global markets continue to recover and companies leverage data and analytics to create competitive advantage for their businesses. More importantly evolving and emerging markets of Asia will show huge propensity for data products. I would like to leverage this opportunity and be a significant player in this industry.
Although my tenure at XX has been fairly exciting and challenging, my current skill-set is limited. To take on broader leadership opportunities in the future I would require a wide range of skill-sets-- from strong people management skills to deep understanding of various management disciplines like strategy, finance and operations. I understand that my current skill set can only be enhanced through a structured, competitive, and most importantly experiential learning based program such as an MBA.
I strongly believe that SMU will be a stepping stone for my success and will enable me to gain critical skill sets not only in the management area but also gain deep dive insights into new industries such as data analytics, big data, cloud – my areas of potential interest to develop a career in strategy
SMU Essay 2 : Describe your greatest weakness and how you have tried to overcome it. (300 words)
Ten years back I was an angry kid! However clichéd it may sound my childhood days were pretty heated—brawls at school and was highly impatient. My father used to tell me that with this attitude I would never be able to succeed in life.
At my sub conscious level even I was sure that I had to change. 4.5 years back when I joined XX, I had grown as an individual and had become more mature, but my anger had just remolded into impatience and judgmental attitude. From early days I set very high standards of excellence for myself – I constantly challenged myself, set higher benchmarks and believed in living a life of excellence. Consequently I had the same expectations from all my colleagues; I expected them to bring the same amount of passion and vigor to the table; However when they did not meet my expectations I used to quickly form opinions about them and got impatient.
As my career progressed, I got the exposure of working with a highly diverse set of individuals across functions and geographies. Directly working with the senior leadership of the analytics team made me aware of the distinguishing factor of highly successful and respected global managers-- their ability to handle challenging and critical situations in a calm and patient manner.
In my quest to become more patient, calm and develop consideration and apathy for my colleagues and friends, I started practicing meditation. Due to meditation I am able to connect very strongly with people and over a period of time have developed appreciation and sensitivity to diversity.
Today, I am able to look at most situations—good or bad— more optimistically and handle them in a balanced way. I have greater command over my actions, and feel accomplished and happy within.
SMU Essay 3 : Discuss an ethical dilemma that you have faced in your professional career and how you have dealt with it.
I was engrossed in dealing with the decision boxes of the flow chart for the new XX project, when my assistant manager (AM) called me for a meeting. I entered the room and the AM started off without the usual pleasantries -“[name] you know we have the weekly XX project meeting tomorrow?” I nodded. With the usual worry in his tone, he said that “the stats files that were to be shared with the sales head and the xx lead had got corrupted and now an older version of the file along with some simulated numbers had to be presented”.
The AM basically wanted to use a two month old version of the file and give out an approximation of the work carried out in the last month. I was extremely uncomfortable with the idea of presenting outdated figures as the sales team used these numbers to calculate ETAs for the new index products and the client support teams made promises to the existing clients; moreover fudging any sort of information was immoral in my eyes.
I was convinced that with some efforts we could resurrect the corrupt files and was also of the opinion that we convey the force majeure situation to the Sales team and seek more time from them. I tried to convince the AM but he was too consumed in the fear of losing his reputation and, perhaps, his job for not delivering.
On reaching my seat I accessed the raw files from which the numbers are pulled, I knew that it was a steep road to rebuild the stats file. But, I could not have lived with conveying falsified information and lead the sales and support teams to the wrong path. For the next two days I worked for about 16 hours each day. A few hours before our meeting, the file was ready with the right numbers. When I told the AM, there was mixed emotions – of happiness and astonishment.
In the whole episode no one applauded or was conscious of my efforts, but I still consider it one of my greatest achievements. This episode strengthened my confidence, re-enforced my steadfastness in sticking to my ideals and values and convinced me to stick to ethical conduct in the face of unprecedented challenges.