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Carlson Minnesota letter of recommendation

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Carlson Letter of Recommendation Questions

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant. (WL: 50 words)
  2. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (WL: 50 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. (WL: 500 words)
  4. Is there anything else we should know? (WL: 500 words)

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Carlson Letter of Recommendation Example – 1

1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant. (WL: 50 words)

I have known Ashank for the last 9 years having worked with him at his first Job with Byjus and later as a co-founder at TestCracker. Ashank started his career at Byju’s as a product manager and I was a business development manager. 

2. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (WL: 500 words)

I think Ashank stands out from his peers due to his excellent ability to get things done. He is always the go-to person when his team, peers or subordinates are stuck with an issue and needs a way out.  

To highlight particular instances, when we just started TestCracker our team was struggling to run a successful marketing campaign which can increase our visibility and attract clients. Ashank took charge of the marketing efforts and his unique above the line and below the line marketing initiatives ensured excellent brand visibility. We exceeded our client enrollment and revenue estimates by ~30% within the first year of operations.

Second, after launching TestCracker, my team and I were struggling to create a compelling sales pitch for our product, which can narrate product effectiveness. Ashank helped me put together a feedback mechanism from mentors, technical partners, and initial users. This enabled me to collate effective data, put together valuable snippets and designed our first sales pitch.

Third, TestCracker saw a revenue slump in the fifth quarter and our existing markets were becoming saturated. At this particular juncture, Ashank diversified our product portfolio by launching 2 other prep course products, and his initiative paid off very well. These new courses allowed us to get a foothold in the market and we had enough funds to run our operations smoothly. It was due to his perseverance and prudence that we became the most successful business owners. Finally, we became market leaders in 2 of those new launched courses in Bangalore. Ashank also helped me to ensure TestCracker’s reach beyond Bangalore and launched product offerings in 2 other neighboring markets. This resulted in a good increase in our revenue for the next 4 successive quarters.

The competitive test preparation market in India is completely saturated and overcrowded with well funded Ed-Tech startups. However, Ashank’s innovative branding strategies challenged and came out on top with better brand recall, which really helped us get off the ground for our first year. Therefore, I think Ashank has the courage and calculated risk taking ability to lead a young start-up

3.  Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (500 words)

Ashank handles responsibility well and has shown maturity beyond his years in dealing with projects and people, but sometimes, he takes on more responsibilities than he can handle which affect his project management and planning skills.  This is one flaw Ashank suffers from and ends up being the bottleneck.

On a few occasions, we’ve had discussions to emphasize this importance of intelligent task management which he has taken positively and worked on. The biggest flaw of any founder is to try to control everything and do everything on his own. But soon after our discussion, he started focussing on prioritizing his responsibilities and effective delegation to his team and to ensure successful completion. After the feedback, he hired 3 people for himself and trained them to work accordingly. He created a proper and robust channel of  responsibilities in his company, so that he is not burning himself out. Now, he has a better way of working and maintes a work life balance.

Secondly, I believe Ashank’s strategies are limited to the Indian market and scaling businesses outside of India has been a challenge. I asked him to broaden his network outside of India, If he is really interested in catering to the global market. He took the feedback very positively and took a tour of 3 months across south east asia to understand education technology industries. He participated in multiple business related events to broaden his network and improve his business acumen. I think his international trip and exposure really helped him.  

Ashank was quick to understand the lack of long term vision and started working on improvements. I believe, upgrading the skill set at a global MBA program was a clear solution which he is now exploring and I am glad to support his career development.

Carlson Letter of Recommendation Example – 2

1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant. (WL: 50 words)

I first met Arbaaz in 2013, when I was department head at St. Joseph’s College of commerce. Arbaaz approached our university to establish a partnership for preparing and mentoring our students. Since then, I have known Arbaaz for 7 years as a client and then as a mentor.

2. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (WL: 500 words)

From my perspective and compared to other well-qualified individuals I have worked with, Arbaaz definitely stands out in terms of his ability to manage teams and lead them.

In 2015, as a department head and mentor, I requested Arbaaz to initiate a course called “A road to UPSC”, to help me prepare our students for the nationwide competitive examination for public sector jobs. Planning an entire course usually takes months and whole academic years. But Arbaaz and his team structured and planned to get the program implemented within months. Arbaaz not only shouldered the responsibility to create but also executed the implementation exceedingly well. Leading a young team for a startup to such a good implementation of the course really impressed me and brought to fore his strong people management skill.

After our first successful partnership, in 2017, I requested Arbaaz to create a career focused mentoring course for students. The program was initially designed for Bachelor of Commerce students only, but when we evaluated student feedback, it was really positive. Thereafter, we decided to extend the course to Post Graduate programs too covering more than 2000 students.

Under my mentorship, he has worked on multiple projects. During covid – 19, I asked him to convert all the current projects into virtual mode. It was a demanding task to cater 600 students via online medium without compromising the quality. However, Arbaaz and his team got it implemented within 2 months. There were multiple issues and Arbaaz put in commendable effort working overtime to deliver the results. 

Most recently, during the second wave of covid-19 pandemic, We were struggling to conduct yearly assessment programs at our college. I approached Arbaaz to help us develop a remote method of carrying out the assessment. He delivered an online-only assessment product for commerce students within a week. The product not only helped us in understanding and assessing parameters of all students but also tailored online courses for them in helping them navigate through health and academic challenges. His turnaround time was exceptional – 1 week – since he understood the student’s challenges, and the essence of time. The product had great success in history as more than 60% students subscribed to it.

The way he handled his team in the time of crisis, makes me believe that he possesses excellent leadership skills to capably lead a big team and deliver projects for clients. 

3.  Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (500 words)

I think Arbaaz is really good at delivering results in challenging circumstances. I’ve always been highly impressed by the way he tackles challenges due to which he was our preferred academic partner for five continuous years.

However, as with everybody in the work, Arbaaz does have his drawbacks, which after years of good working relationship I understand and have discussed with him to assist him with improvements. As a leader and Business owner, Arbaaz is very hands-on and lacks the capability to think big and think strategically. 

The key feedback which I gave Arbaaz was regarding his lack of understanding on how to scale his business. A key suggestion that I have stressed upon is to create products instead of focussing on 1-1 services. Services help you get the initial revenue but after that he should start thinking strategically to scale. I’m glad that he took my advice in his newest venture and is looking to create scalable learning products whose backbone is technology.

We had numerous conversations during the course of the last couple of years and my advice to him has been to channel his energy in the right direction and enhance his self-learning. I’ve also told him a few times that he was being ineffective with his time. He should use the downtime in business cycles most effectively by building a robust platform to cater a maximum number of students while reducing direct human involvement. He took the feedback positively. After spending more than a year and a half, Arbaaz came up with a strong online platform, which can be accessed from anywhere accounting to the feasibility of students. He understood the importance of the platform and launched two more products under the same platform. I observed that his reach drastically increased from a few thousand students to two hundred thousand students in a short span, resulting in an increase in revenue.  

 I have also observed a significant change in his work methodology. Over time he has shown great improvement in his understanding of workflow processes in different business modules. Arbaaz is highly capable of achieving his career goals. I feel his decision to pursue an MBA at this point makes perfect sense as it will help him take his expertise to the next level.

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