face it. The term globalism has become overused, and often
misused. In fact, we might say that it has actually been devalued to the level of
the everyday language of buzzword-brandishing marketing pundits. Such freewheeling
usage has perhaps prompted many a CEO (or future CEO) to launch into a global plan or
strategy without proper consideration of the demands and dynamics of the international
marketplace. Many would-be globetrotters neglect the acquisition of language skills,
knowledge of foreign trade and tax laws, accounting standards, etc., all of which are
necessary to effectively go global. Superficial knowledge only leads to
This has, indeed,
happened, and while there is no doubt that neglecting to capture the gains achievable in
overseas markets is equally suicidal, misguided attempts at competing globally (along with
rapidly developing opportunities in the global marketplace) have placed a dramatic premium
on individuals who take the time to properly train themselves in international
business. For me, the Columbia MBA is a significant component of this training.
I foresee my own
career moving in the direction of European/American business, initially from an
advisory perspective (i.e. investment banking or consulting) and ultimately from a
leadership role within a manufacturing entity, preferably a start-up venture. This
prophecy, in part, has evolved from my past experiences in western and eastern Europe
which, in turn, have formed my opinions about certain opportunities that should emerge in
the future: there should be, with a good degree of certainty, immense windfall gains and
comparative advantages for US-trained/thinking business leaders and managers in the
European markets in the coming years. This foresight along with my personal
entrepreneurial bent and an affinity for finance will play a large role in the evolution
of my career.
There is a theory
that states that students who travel and study overseas return greatly transformed in
outlook and perspective. I am no different, and it is easy to imagine how witnessing
first-hand the revolutions in Eastern Europe (while studying in Budapest in the fall of
1989) would impact my future plans. The overall ramifications of the fall of the
Red Empire were at that time to me quite apparent (i.e. the end of the
bi-polar global political structure, etc.), and it was quite obvious that lacking any kind
of international capabilities (languages, experience, etc.) would greatly hinder
anyones career in the long run. Therefore, since graduating in 1991, I have
tried to maintain a balance of technical knowledge accumulation and international work
experience. Thus far, I think I have been quite successful.
My year at Kidder,
Peabody had its compulsory eighty-hour weeks which, indeed, provided a solid technical
foundation in corporate finance and capital markets. However, the scope of the
company was somewhat limited internationally, hence my job change to Deutsche Girozentrale
-Deutsche Kommunalbank- (street name, DGZ) in Frankfurt, Germany. This
was a career shift that was a bit off the beaten path but was international and provided
excellent exposure to the European capital markets and to the internal
management/corporate culture of a staunch and traditional German institution. The
job was also naturally conducive to achieving full-fluency in German. My current
position has allowed for a continuum of international corporate finance exposure (about
90% of Vereinsbanks clients are central or eastern European) as well as solid
technical and quantitative training in corporate finance.
Over the course of
my experiences both in the US and Europe I have made a discovery that, while nothing new,
creates a macro rationale for my career plans. As most of us know, there exists
today a seemingly unalterable persistence of bureaucracy, risk-aversion and time consuming
decision making procedures amongst European enterprises, a fundamental difference to their
aggressive American counterparts. For any American-trained business leader, this
represents an opportunity. The now-ending world recession in tandem with rapidly
increasing global competition (both of which, incidentally, have prompted a restructuring
of US industry) has forced European governments to strongly consider more open
markets. Thats also nothing new. However, it seems that the recession
was not long enough to force a concurrent inward reflection amongst European business
leaders. As a result, many European private sector entities have maintained their
bureaucratic habits, but ultimately face increased competition in their own domestic
markets. Unfortunately for them, they are losing and should continue to lose (the
recent utter domination of US investment banks in Germany over the long-standing domestic
superbanks as a result of the recent liberation of the financial markets is a
case in point).
This is, obviously,
an opportunity. As more and more Europeans continue their tradition of bureaucracy
management, there will be an ever-increasing demand for US-trained business operators
(who, by the way, traditionally perform well in laizes fairre market environments) as more
and more international companies (US and non-US) move into Europe. My objective is
to capitalize on this opportunity.
However, just from
simple observation, I have discovered that an MBA provides a distinct advantage over those
without. There is an analytical nature inherent to MBAs which I believe is
duplicable only by committing two years to the academic study of business. And, in
light of my international bent, there is no doubting that Columbia is quite appropriate
for my purposes.
My father once told
me, life, like baseball, is a game of inches. So practice, practice, practice
before stepping onto the field, life included. I guess he meant prepare before
embarking upon the real thing. The MBA, for me, would be a source of practice,
practice, practice, and based on my observations of Columbia MBAs in action and on
the reputation of the school internationally, a Columbia MBA would be perfect spring
training, so to speak...
My parents divorced when I was two years old. After some judicial haggling
(or so Ive been told), I ended up with my father and consequently rarely knew my
mother. Despite this rather unorthodox family setting, my dad and I had one of those
father/son relationships that one might see idealized on television; he coached my little
league teams, taught me to drive, the works. To me, my father was my family and,
what I liked to coin many years later, my backstop.
couple of months after I left for my first year of college, my father and I had a falling
out. If I remember correctly, it involved a speeding ticket. In any case, my
dad and I did not speak to one another at all after that lethal day in November, despite
his repeated attempts to contact me.
see, one thing that my father lacked was ambition; as a California hippie in the
1960s, my dad maintained many of the 60s ideologies of peace, love and
understanding. In other words, the establishment, rules, and the conventional way of
doing things he avoided adamantly. For some reason, growing up, I grew to resent
this. In fact, it angered me so much that after an argument that hit the very nerve
of this resentment, I swore to make it on my own.
all, I was focused. I had my career to take care of. I had my studies, my
athletic activities, my money making schemes, my clubs, my fraternities -- I had my future
in front of me. I, indeed, intended to make up for years of ambition that my father
squandered. But a couple of years later upon arriving back to my room after my last
final exam before Christmas, I received a message that my father had died of a heart
attack. My backstop was gone.
mentioned elsewhere in this application, I am stubborn. I sometimes allow my belief
in my own correctness to do more harm than good. Most times, I dont realize
it. In this case, the realization of my stubbornness was like a brick in the
face. I had allowed my own goals, objectives and beliefs to come between myself and
probably the most important and influential individual my life has seen, and, to this day,
I only regret it.
ambition is always commendable. Blind ambition with neglect of humanism, however,
only leads to dismay. By looking to boldly forge my future, I forgot my father, my
family. Sew the seeds of life and happiness, despite what society deems as the norm
of such matters. This I forgot. This I learned
3: (Two Accomplishments) (615 words)
1) OK, Ill admit it -- my college experience was no piece of cake. In
fact, I think I had it harder than most others I knew at UCLA. Most others came from
wealth. So did I, sort of. My family was known for its wealth of
knowledge. Unfortunately, the invisible hand of the free market does not handsomely
reward intellect for intellectualisms sake. More specifically, my father was a high
school and college instructor, and although he was quite gifted intellectually,
didnt make enough to help me out through school. He did, unfortunately, earn
enough for me not to qualify for many state grants. I was, as my contemporary peers
put it, in the gray area.
been rudely awakened to the idea that I would be financing the vast majority of my
education, I opted for the first two years at cheap university, last two years at
expensive university plan, instead of entering UCLA as a freshmen as I had
originally intended. In the long run, however, this did not hinder my chances of
success at UCLA or otherwise. In fact, I think it enhanced it.
anybodys granddad tells him or her at a young age, there is nothing like spending a
dollar that youve earned on your own. Likewise, graduating at the top of your
class at a world class university and paying for it on your own, to boot, evokes a similar
feeling. I also pegged a very lucrative job as a GIC broker my junior year and
managed my own real estate business my last two years of college. Upon graduation, I
was one of four graduates at UCLA that year to receive an offer from a bulge
bracket investment banking firm. Having done all this and having maintained
over a 3.9 grade point average while paying for nearly 90% of my academic costs does,
indeed, make me proud. I think anyone in my shoes would feel the same.
2) Languages are curious creatures. Unlike any other
knowledge or skill which improves with learning intensity, languages require time, lots of
time. That means that while one may learn the nuances of Chinese history in one
night of cramming, learning a foreign language requires a bit by bit learning and
cognative assimilation process that, for those of us who are impatient, can be quite
frustrating. One cant cram a language.
as many of us know, Germans are known for their long vacations. One late August
while at DGZ, my immediate superior who, with me, covered Scandanavia (and Northern
Germany, from time to time) was on a four-week vacation. During his absence one of
our German clients needed to issue a Schuldscheindarlehen, a type of German fixed-income
financing instrument. This was fine and dandy, but, unfortunately, our client spoke
only German, and I was left to conduct the entire transaction (including documentation).
The transaction lasted a couple of weeks, involved an interest rate swap, and was, without
a doubt, one of my most challenging career experiences to date. The success,
however, did not derive from closing the transaction as would seem on the surface.
Indeed, of greater significance was the fact that I had actually mastered and conquered
the German language.
deal, you say? Lots of folks learn foreign languages, right? But, impatient
ones rarely do -- its against their nature, and I include myself amongst them.
So although to the outside observer this may seem a bit hum drum (especially to consider
as one of my two most admirable successes), the mastering of the German language is truly
a triumph and one that only I and my easily-frustrated self will ever truly appreciate.
Europe is a small place in terms of land area. It, however, has an immense
history. At times, these two simple facts clash as the reality of progress and
historical progression sets in within many European cities. The end result is that
while Europe is littered with historical monuments, the private sector calls for
additional space for growth. Europe, however, has only so much space to go around --
something has to give.
am a bit of a history buff, and I have always tended to side with the preservation of
historical monuments in the face of progress. During my sixteen-month residence in
Frankfurt I joined an organization called Verein zur Pflege der Frankfurter Tradition e.V
which is devoted to preserving the handful of historical monuments in the Frankfurt
area. I had originally joined it with an interest in discussions about German
history with Germans directly (something, you might guess, Germans rarely do), but later
discovered that the organization was a sort of militant group of Hessens storming around
the region demonstrating against private acquisitions of historically significant
properties. Considering my personal beliefs about the free market and where it
should and should not be appropriately utilized, I became heavily involved in the
Union was organized into sub-committees which were to oversee resistance against the
demise of specific monuments. After assimilating myself in the organization for some
few months, I was elected to oversee the committee which was to focus on preventing a
private entrepreneur from buying and converting into a casino/restaurant the
Sachsenhausner Warte, a building which was the southernmost outpost of the Franks who
inhabited the area some 1000 years ago.
the course of eight months, I oversaw a group of seven to ten individuals. We
demonstrated, gathered signatures, filed petitions, and ultimately presented the topic
before the German version of the City Council. Although the matter is under further
discussions by local officials, I was recently informed that the Warte still stands --
I am a native Californian, yet have lived all over the world. I speak
foreign tongues, yet am quite American in nature and thinking. I possess the
ruthlessness of a free-marketeer, yet the humility of a good standing
Irish-catholic. It may, therefore, come as no surprise that I view myself as unique
-- who doesnt. But, unlike many of my counterparts, my uniqueness derives not
from a particular uniqueness, but indeed, from a lack of uniqueness, a balance.
become prevalent since the Cold War bound us against a common enemy, many of us have
retreated to our own particular unique qualities. We are either something -
American, from poverty, a foreigner, pro-life or representative of some other
specific niche. Global leaders, global unifiers of the 21st century will not be from
niche groups, but representative of the whole, able to relate to people from all walks of
life. Leaders, today more than ever, must be able to satiate the needs of the
extremes, the voices of the many few as well as identify with a more diverse populace.
from a background that has taken me from rather humble beginnings in a poor urban setting
in Los Angeles to New York and Europe. I have lived, walked and shared life with
wealthy as well as poor, black as well as white, foreign as well as American. I have
risen from the poorer areas of California to the wealthy areas of Manhattan and have
survived and adapted along the way. The end result has been a life experience that
allows me to understand the rites and morays of all levels of society. I can wine
and dine the captains of industry, drink beer and shoot pool with steel workers.
achievements are obvious, as is indicated in other sections of this application. But
if I could lay claim to my greatest achievement it would be the understanding of
people. Put yourself in their shoes and act accordingly. This has been
advantageous for me professionally as well as personally.
the end of the Cold War and the ever-increasing emphasis on economic power over political
power, now more than ever-private sector leaders will bear more and more burden for social
responsibility. The era has come for a new business leader: aware of profit
maximization yet equally aware of the community in which he operates. Increasing
competition will prompt governments to free up markets to allow for increased
competitiveness for their domestic enterprises. It will then be up to enterprises to
assume the role of self-policing its activities, environmentally, ethically. As a
result, business leaders must be objective yet political.