“We humans are social beings… Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
– Dalai Lama
As a burgeoning real estate developer, my vision for the city of the future lies in the premise that people are at their best when their social nature is respected and encouraged.
To do this, the city of the future is one that must harness the technologies we use to expand our communication across great distances to inspire closer connections with neighboring individuals and businesses. In my view, the city of the future begins with its buildings – smart buildings that must be multi-functional and sustainable. They should be solar-powered, with green roofs to combat urban heat islands and help filter air pollutants. But most importantly, the buildings should foster communication and interaction between residents – they should offer more than a place to live, but a community as well.
These buildings will create an active community via a mobile application that alerts residents to the activities taking place (and the people participating in them) in the various shred spaces found on each floor – in the cinema, the garden, the fitness room, in meeting rooms and lounges. Residents will engage the community in their favorite hobbies by using the application to create in-house activities they’ll lead, or residents can explore new interests with others. The application will also be geared toward crowdsourcing community support of all kinds – from helping to network young families to babysitters, to ensuring ill residents have food and visitors, to finding the right tools for home repairs.
I believe buildings that use technology to draw residents out of the seclusion that has been an unintended consequence of our tech-forward times will be at the center of social revitalization in the cities of the future. I imagine these individual communities joining with other community-centered residences, weaving into a larger, socially-oriented network for the public and private sectors. In the city of the future, smart buildings will ensure that people are aware of the opportunities and people that surround them, making life so much richer than just commuting to and from work.
Happily, the time for these new cities is dawning, and I envision myself blazing the path to their realization by founding the first such community-centered residence buildings in my home country. My country is a young country with a technological edge, entrepreneurial values, and the will to do things differently than they’ve been done before – people like me are willing to take chances to contribute positively to the rest of the world.
In my country, especially in peripheral cities where the city’s identity is yet to be defined, there is massive potential to pilot these projects and then scale them for existing urban centers, until community-centered real estate takes hold as a global ideal. With IE’s world-class curriculum in real estate and entrepreneurship, I can build the skill set to pioneer innovation in real estate that will make communities the backbone of tomorrow’s cities.
I started singing at a young age, and my friends and family would ask me to sing for them a lot. At school, I used to sing at all the ceremonies and people would approach me afterward and thank me for the performance. I realized that singing not only made me feel great but that it created positive feelings for those listening too. Being able to make others feel good through my talent built my confidence, brought me joy, and fueled my creativity. Singing even brought me my first opportunity to become a community leader.
Along with singing in folk groups since junior high, I had always been a member of the Scouts – a youth organization for social responsibility and volunteerism. At age 17, I participated in the Scouts – a national youth organization – and was selected to open a new troop in an economically disadvantaged area, typically associated with poverty and crime. My first challenge was to attract enough neighborhood kids to open the troop.
Having sung in choirs for years, I was aware of this activity’s ability to help develop discipline, teamwork, and consideration for others. I knew singing was fun and low-cost – so kids with economic hardships could join easily without worrying about costs associated with other activities like football or basketball. I also knew that nothing draws a crowd like voices united in song. With that, I founded the neighborhood’s first-ever singing group.
Holding auditions stoked the kids’ competitive spirit and drove membership higher than I expected – to 30 members. I encouraged the kids to take the activity seriously by recruiting professional soundmen and musicians to accompany them for free. Through our folk music, our troop learned our history and started forming a real bond with our country and the greater community. I could see their pride increasing as they brought their family members to watch our practices, and at their suggestion, we started giving performances at local retirement homes and daycares.
After winning the Scouts’ citywide competition against 11 other groups, our popularity exploded, and our group doubled in size. I even arranged for kids who were not Scout members to participate. We won our local singing competition and took third place in the city-wide competition. Our group even received recognition from the mayor.
The singing group is still active today and is one of the popular activities for Scouts in the area. For me, the singing group’s continuation is a testament to the power of sharing one’s passion.
For your reference, I’ve included a short sample of my singing in the additional information section.
As an MBA student at IE Business School, I would like to specialize in the Financial Technology industry (FinTech). I was first attracted to the world of financial technologies in 2008, in the days of the global financial crisis. I was a first-year student of mathematics, fascinated by the quantitative aspects of the crisis. I learned that the financial sector had used sophisticated tools without being able to measure the risk exposures derived from such activity, and that understanding how to use advanced models and technologies is critical to FinTech’s success. FinTech has made great strides in the last decade, but it still has a range of impending challenges to overcome.
The rapid development of the industry has introduced the need for regulation that preserves public, social, and economic interests without discouraging investments. Fintech also faces the crucial challenge of securing its highly sensitive data. Providing more access to information through digitization may maximize efficiency, but ultimately, it also increases vulnerability to security breaches. Such threats have already withheld automation of highly influential processes in other areas (for example, general elections are still handled manually), so mitigating threats is salient to FinTech’s future success.
While meeting the challenges of data security and regulation is vital, the challenge that I personally aim to address is risk management. Computerizing trading and services will require superior, tight-fitting risk management tools. Automated processes increase operations volume, thereby creating higher risks when there are errors. As such, FinTech enterprises must determine strict boundaries of risk exposures in order to define loss barriers, which are essential to successful long-term performance.
As a finance mathematician, I am steeped in the finance sector and equipped with the quantitative abilities to analyze and build tools for interpreting complex data sets. For example, I built an algorithm that priced a complex derivative asset and provided information about risk exposures as a result of trading it. This model helped to choose correctly which assets should be bought in order to hedge the trading activity. Moreover, the skills I acquired as an operations researcher in the Navy, like data mining and extracting valuable information from data sets, lend themselves readily to risk management.
At IE, I hope to gain the management skills to achieve my short-term goal of building a career in mitigating risk exposures, first as a quantitative manager in a technology-driven enterprise such as IMC, where I will use my risk management experience to contribute to the firm’s efforts to create a controlled trading culture. Later, my goal is to found and manage a FinTech startup company. As entrepreneurship is a part of IE’s DNA, it is the best place to develop an innovative mindset and join a great network of professionals with audacity and vision. IE’s program will enable me to learn from entrepreneurs I admire, like Paris de L’Etraz, an entrepreneurship mentor with broad experience in raising funds and setting up new companies.
I believe that my future holds as much potential as Fintech itself. I am sure that earning an IE MBA can help me grow together with this exciting industry. I see FinTech eventually becoming the core of the financial industry as a whole. By implementing both the theoretical tools I’ve gained as a mathematician and my professional experience in the navy and FinTech, I believe my background, combined with world-class management tools gained at IE, will help me to make significant contributions to deal with the challenges that lay ahead in the financial technology sector.
Two years into my Navy service as an Operations Researcher, I was promoted to a new, unfamiliar position – Naval Technological Intelligence Researcher – wherein I assumed the duties of the head of the unit. I requested an assistant to help deal with the workload, as my new position added new tasks without relieving me of former ones. My new assistant was intelligent but confided in me early on that he would have preferred to be a programmer and was uninterested in serving in our unit. His lack of motivation was apparent in his passivity and in the slow pace he applied to his tasks.
He was my only staff, and I needed him to be committed. At first, I considered asking my commander to replace him. But sensing his intelligence and potential, I decided not to give up on him. An effective leader should inspire commitment, not expect it. As his first commanding officer in the Navy, I knew I could make a big impact on his service if I could help to motivate him.
I conversed with him about his personal and professional preferences and endeavored to assign him projects that spoke to him, especially those that included programming tasks. I encouraged him to send me his deliverables for QA so that he would feel confident to be creative and make mistakes. I invited him to come to me for help acclimatizing to the Navy’s strict environment.
My personal interest in his development had a significant impact on his attitude and motivation. He diminished any thoughts of moving out of our department and created personal relationships with his colleagues. He told me how he found joy in our work, and even our unit commander commented on his transformation to an exemplary member of our department.
Through this experience, I discovered the great satisfaction I take from the human aspects of management. An IE MBA would help me to strengthen my leadership competencies and my toolkit for inspiring team morale and effective vision-sharing, an essential skill in the ever-evolving world of FinTech. Taking courses such as “Exemplary Leadership Practices” and “High Impact Coaching for Leadership” will enrich my strategic mindset with tools to deal with a variety of situations that I expect to deal with in my career as I transition from my current position as an analyst to a more senior role, leading analysts and others. I would also participate in the Leadership and FinTech clubs, and take a leadership role in them in order to share my experience and jump in headfirst to lead larger groups of people.
Working with a team of professionals stationed across four continents, I’ve learned the value of collaborating with diverse teams. At IE, I’ll have the opportunity to continue learning and growing from the varied perspectives of a diverse cohort – perspectives I hope to apply to working at an international FinTech company following my MBA.
My current manager at the company I work for is the most outstanding leader I have ever worked with, for several reasons.
Firstly, she creates a comfortable working environment in which her subordinates feel secure enough to bring their true selves to the job. She manages to foster true teamwork, creating a situation in which unhealthy competition and non-collegial behaviors are not welcome. This brings the team to the highest rates of collaboration and a united strength I have never before experienced, in which we all see the marketing objectives as a whole and are willing to help each other in any way possible.
Another important factor I see in her management is that she encourages innovation. This attitude provides her subordinates with the liberty to be as creative as possible. I have found myself taking my role of CCSD to places that I believe are the most beneficial for the company – even to the point of taking on responsibilities not included in my job description. It is her quest for innovation that has put the marketing department in a leading position in the company and made it a fundamental part of the company’s DNA.
My manager is also an expert at aligning others to her goals, understanding what will best motivate each person. In every project, she invests considerable time and effort to strategize how to get others on board, and she always succeeds.
As a manager, I have tried to incorporate some of these traits into my own behavior.
Having seen in action how she unites all of us with the overall mission, I try to emulate this in the weekly meeting I conduct with my team. After summarizing the work done so far, I instruct each team member on their different tasks in a way that emphasizes both the individual’s responsibility and the common goal. I enjoy seeing my team work independently but am mindful of the bigger picture.
I also encourage my team to seek innovation in any aspect of our job. Whenever we start a new project, I suggest looking at it from all perspectives, seeking possible changes, improvements, or even inventions that could enhance the result. In addition, I’ve been following her advice to try and bring stakeholders on board, whenever I have an idea that needs support.
There are also ways in which my management style differs from hers.
For one thing, as my team is less experienced than hers, I set definite timelines for important tasks and try to control the deadlines as much as I can, without dampening creativity. Furthermore, as opposed to my manager, who provides feedback after the planning is finished; I try to accompany the process from its early stages, to help focus my team in the right direction. This saves time, prevents frustration, and hopefully is preparing them for the time when they will have to strategize or lead a strategy process on their own.
One final way in which we differ is in how we view the lines that divide company functions. She prefers to stay within the boundaries of our department, whereas I see the value of finding ways in which the marketing force, with its special capabilities and ways of thinking, can add value to overall company missions. Thus I have found myself leading my team to work closely with the sales analysts in order to improve the information that their produce. I have also found that our knowledge in both sales and marketing can help the financial and logistic planning, and thus I make sure that one of us always participates in every supply meeting.
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