The following essay was submitted to the Harvard MBA program by our client. The client was accepted to the program.
Four years of intense training led to this moment, and I knew what to do without thinking. As squad commander in the elite Air Force Commando Unit, I served my country during a war. I received notice that a platoon of 50 soldiers was under heavy attack, and my squad had to save them.
I had ten minutes to process the situation, devise a plan, assign tasks, communicate status to superiors, and make life-and-death decisions. We had exactly sixty seconds to execute the mission with complete precision. Bullets sailing overhead, my mind was completely focused on leading my brave men and saving the trapped soldiers.
I felt the full weight of the situation only after all soldiers were safe and able to return home to their families.
As a squad leader for three years, I often had to get my men out of dangerous situations. Planning a mission to save so many lives during wartime made this experience the most substantial in my military service.
Flying to Microsoft Headquarters, I couldn’t believe my luck! Selected as lead developer on the Microsoft Unified Communications Sync Server project, I convinced my manager to permit me to initiate collaboration with our American counterparts and persuaded a senior colleague in Washington that working with us would benefit his product.
When I first got the assignment, I knew that working with Americans could add significant insight to our development. A history of failed collaborations by senior marketing managers made my managers reluctant to approve the plan of a junior engineer like me. Undeterred, I reached across two continents and ten Microsoft ranks and convinced a senior software architect in Redmond that working with us would develop their product while stabilizing ours. Everyone finally agreed, and I went to lead the collaboration in December 2007.
In Redmond, I established relationships transcending this project, aligning both teams’ development processes and paving the way for future joint ventures.
This accomplishment gave me international experience and exposure to senior colleagues at an early stage in my career. That the partnership benefited both people and products makes it my most substantial contribution in a professional situation.
Validating My Vision
Leading a software development team to overcome obstacles and build a floral service website is an accomplishment that confirmed that creating state-of-the-art consumer products was what I wanted to do with my life.
After a month of work on our final computer science project at the University, we discovered we were going in the wrong direction. We were frustrated, but nothing gets me going like a challenge. I had a plan, and I knew I had to lead by example to motivate the group. I was always the first one in the lab and never the first to leave. I constantly improved my own task, the graphical user interface, demonstrating that I required the same commitment from myself I asked of them. Each time we met, I focused on one of the guys with a smile on his face and leveraged the opportunity by making him an ally to help me get the others motivated. I even stressed the fact that this project gave us experience with new technology that would be very beneficial in upcoming job interviews.
My team chose me to present the final project. We got a perfect score, but I received something even more substantial: a vision of my professional future.
The following MBA admission essay was submitted by our client who was admitted to the MBA program.
I have always had a burning desire to create music. One day, I decided to form a band the likes of which had never been seen in my country. I would be singer and lead guitar. I brought together a group of five musicians to form a unique multi-cultural rock band.
As the plan entered reality, of course, I had to make some compromises; I did get the role of lead guitar, but I learned I was a better manager than singer. our band assembled every Friday morning for a five hour rehearsal. It was my job to ensure that everyone shows up on time, and with musicians that’s not an easy job!
After a year of rehearsing we started giving concerts. We recorded a five-song demo album. When I heard that the local radio station was holding a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, I promptly sent them one of the songs.
We were thrilled when we got the news that out of 100 competing bands, our band was one of 5 that made it to the finals!
The final competition took place during a live broadcast on the local radio. Three professional musicians acted as judges, and the radio listeners voted for their favorites. our band won First Prize!
I plan to have many much larger-scale achievements in the future, but this moment of local fame will forever hold a special place in my heart.
My proudest achievement occurred during my time as Business Development Manager at prooV.
When I joined this startup, they had a well-functioning product – a platform that enhanced collaborations between corporations and startups. However, to date, they had only had a few beta tests with small-scale projects. Then, the CEO landed his first big whale: MasterCard Israel. MasterCard wanted to use our platform to run 12 pilots, with over 60 startups. This was make or break for us; failure would critically demolish our brand.
The CEO called me in. He said that our product department had neither business nor innovation understanding, whereas, on MasterCard's side, the project leaders would be their new CTO and Head of Innovation. Would I take charge of the project?
Would I! I dove in. First, I studied MasterCard's business and technological needs in each pilot. Then, I conducted a market research to find the finest software providers, assigned each analyst a list of names to contact, and worked with them on fine-tuning their pitches. After a few days, although our goal had been to partner with 100 relevant software providers, I closed some 150. Due to the huge interest, MasterCard decided to launch this project in a conference, with its CEO, GPs of major VCs, the chosen software providers, and leading Israeli press (Calcalist, GeekTime) all present.
This was the most complicated project I had ever managed; its success had a significant impact on my self-confidence and was one of the experiences that motivated me to open my own business – Vinopo.
One failure that taught me a great deal happened while I worked at Viola Credit. My first assignment was to evaluate a portfolio company that had recently completed an IPO and assess the right time to sell its shares.
I had never analysed a public company before, and as it was my first significant task, I did not want to disappoint my managers. I started researching available methods, using my intuition to choose the right ones. However, hunches alone proved insufficient to generate clear results within a reasonable timeframe. After wasting about two weeks, I admitted failure and asked my manager to guide me through the project.
From this experience, I learned never to be afraid of not knowing and especially, never to be afraid to ask for guidance. I have incorporated these lessons into every project ever since.
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