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CEIBS Letter of Recommendation

CEIBS Letter of Recommendation Questions 

 

  1. How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?
  2. In comparison with the applicant’s colleagues, what do you consider to be the applicant’s strengths? How do you think about the applicant’s leadership ability?
  3. In what areas do you think the applicant needs improvement or growth? To the best of your knowledge, what effort(s) has the applicant made to improve in the areas that you have mentioned?
  4. Please comment on the applicant’s ability to work with colleagues, including his or her supervisors, peers, and subordinates.

CEIBS Sample Letter of Recommendation – 1

Question 1: How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?

I am the CEO of Digitalswitzerland and I have known Anna (Named Changed) since March 2019. Digitalswitzerland is a Swiss-wide, multi-stakeholder initiative of over 130 members to strengthen Switzerland’s position as a leading innovation hub. Anna is Digitalswitzerland’s ambassador for Chain IQ and is typically involved in strategy formulation related topics. 

Question 2: In comparison with the applicant’s colleagues, what do you consider to be the applicant’s strengths? How do you think about the applicant’s leadership ability?

I believe Anna’s key strength is her excellent problem-solving skills combined with her structured approach. 

As part of the merger of the digitalswitzerland and ICTswitzerland organisations, presidents of both organisations evaluated whether a merger would result in significant benefits for both sides.  The biggest challenge was to secure the 75% of favourable votes needed for a merger to go through.  Anna was given the responsibility to set up a task force consisting of myself and the CEO of the other organisation and prepare a comprehensive analysis of the members at risk of approving. She proactively identified the at risk votes and prepared a proper plan on how to address their concerns. She initiated a thought through process that helped the presidents and selected executive committee members convince each member individually. In addition, she had gone the extra mile and analysed the financial impact of members if they were to leave the merged organization. As a result of Anna’s efforts, the concerns of the members were adequately addressed and monitored. The merger was approved by 97% of the members which has resulted in the largest national initiative for digitalisation in Switzerland.

In addition, Anna has showed strong leadership abilities in managing the digitalswitzerland’s office team with regards to the strategic projects. Again, as part of the merger of digitalswitzerland and ICTswitzerland, Anna approached me asking to give her the lead in onboarding a key task force of five members of the digitalswitzerland office team and managing their inputs. Anna’s showed great ability in leading our key task force. I was particularly impressed by how well and flexible she managed to include everyone’s input, adding a clear structure to the set tasks and ensuring regular update and feedback calls. 

To summarise, I believe that Anna’s behaviour in leading the key task force coupled with her excellent problem-solving skills and structured approach makes her a great potential of leading large teams. I am confident in pursuing an MBA at CEIBS Anna will be able to bring her leadership skills to the next level.

Question 3: In what areas do you think the applicant needs improvement or growth? To the best of your knowledge, what effort(s) has the applicant made to improve in the areas that you have mentioned?

I think one weakness of Anna is her misjudgement of the flexibility and openness for change from everyone else. 

In one instance, Anna was in charge of conducting the strategy review for digitalswitzerland. As part of the feedback collection, she plAnnad to interview every single team member on their view of digitalswitzerland’s strategy. Even though Anna had prepared a well thought-through questionnaire I think she misjudged the openness of others to such a change initiative. Several team members were concerned that their projects might be stopped depending on their answers and were afraid of talking freely. Anna listened to their concerns closely, but didn’t manage to convince them that their concerns were without reason. In addition, she told me of their concerns at a very late stage into the project, which made it harder for me to take away their fears.

In our mid-term project review, I gave her the feedback and indicated that she should have told me their concerns at a much earlier stage or prepared a good plan on her own to address them. Anna took the feedback very well, which I highly appreciated. Since then, Anna has shown significant improvement on this topic and taken active steps to improve on her weakness and proactively studying everyone’s position in such large initiatives. For instance, she asked me for permission to give short weekly updates to the entire team of the strategy review. In addition, she proposed that the president of digitalswitzerland together with her line manager Marcel Stalder, should present the final findings of the strategy review to the entire committee. Both of those actions were appreciated greatly by the team and has led to significant approval for the final findings.

I think Anna is still young and very early in her career and she has a long way to improve when it comes to leading and handling diplomatic relationships and 130+ member initiatives like digitalswitzerland. But at the same time, I am convinced that Anna is an extremely engaged candidate and CEIBS MBA will be a good step for her to upskill herself and enhance her leadership skills.

Question 4: Please comment on the applicant’s ability to work with colleagues, including his or her supervisors, peers, and subordinates.

Anna is highly valued by her colleagues in the digitalswitzerland ecosystem for her positive attitude and ability to bring a fresh look and perspective in discussions and projects. Team members love having Anna participate in their brainstorming sessions. Anna is known for her great feedback, and she is always ready to look at things in a completely new, sometimes hilariously overexaggerated way. 

For instance, as part of a brainstorming session for digitalswitzerland’s virtual General Assembly 2020 in which the vote on the merger took place, Anna threw in a comment to have a virtual female co-host join on stage, to “at least get some female presence on stage”. We decided to give it a try and programmed a female virtual co-host that interacted with the audience during the virtual General Assembly. The audience absolutely loved the virtual assistance and what started as a silly comment ended up being one of the most talked about positive points of the General Assembly.

I believe that while Anna’s professional performance has been superlative, it is her high standards of work culture as well as open and approachable personality that will potentially make her a great leader and take her to far-reaching heights in future.

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CEIBS Sample Letter of Recommendation – 2

Question 1: How long have you known the applicant, and in what capacity? 

I am the Group CEO from Chain IQ and former CEO of Ernst & Young Switzerland. Anna handles my external mandates, namely my engagements as an executive member of digital Switzerland and as president of the Europa Forum. I have known Anna since her internship at Ernst & Young from March 2017 onwards and I asked her to work for me in March 2019.

Question 2: In comparison with the applicant’s colleagues, what do you consider to be the applicant’s strengths? What do you think about the applicant’s leadership ability?

I think Anna’s principal strengths are 

1 – her cross-functional project management skills and

2 – her ability to take full ownership of projects and deliver results independently. 

Cross-functional project management skills – In May 2019, the executive committee of digitalswitzerland asked Anna to lead and conduct a holistic review of digitalswitzerland’s strategy. She was tasked to gather  the views of key individuals, organizational  members, clients, and other critical stakeholders. The idea was to obtain a comprehensive view of the current strategy’s success, assess current projects, and identify further topics that need to be addressed.

Anna onboarded and trained other team members, made a solid project delivery plan with clear timelines and expectations from everyone. Anna conducted over 60 interviews, for which she had prepared a well-structured questionnaire. Besides, she built an impressive model in excel that enabled her to categorise and quantify the results. She later summarised the findings in a report capturing the initiative’s strategy holistically and comprehensively by formulating ten key calls for action. In the process, I was particularly impressed by her ability to listen and make clients and external stakeholders share their views openly without holding back opinions. As a result of Anna’s excellent delivery of this project, I was really impressed and asked her to join me at Chain IQ when I left Ernst & Young.

Ability to take full ownership of projects and deliver results independently – For instance, In August 2020, the executive committee of the Europa Forum and I, (as president), decided to give the forum’s operational lead into new hands. However, the former CEO did not make an effort to stand up to his responsibility in ensuring a smooth transition.

Anna quickly understood the delicacy of the situation and offered to onboard the future CEO. Anna prepared a comprehensive transition plan outlining the main strategic and operational tasks, including a realistic timeline and next steps. After conducting an initial strategic onboarding with myself and the future CEO, Anna also took up the business and operational side and closely worked with the new CEO to get him up to full speed. As a result of Anna’s efforts, the transition went smoothly.

To summarise, I believe that Anna shows the right qualities to develop her leadership abilities. Furthermore, her vast international experience living in the UK, France, and Latin America speaking four languages are a great strength for her to manage global and cross-cultural teams. Nevertheless, Anna has limited leadership experience when it comes to directly managing teams. I am convinced that in pursuing an MBA at CEIBS, Anna will be best prepared to bring her leadership skills to the next level.

Question 3: In what areas do you think the applicant needs improvement or growth? To the best of your knowledge, what effort(s) has the applicant made to improve in the areas that you have mentioned?

Despite Anna’s young age, she has an established track record of delivering results under her belt, making her the strong professional she is today. However, I think Anna’s principal weakness are:

1 – Inability to assess her role in each situation correctly. Sometimes, such behaviour can lead to irritation and people misjudging her.

2 – Lack of the capability to link her excellent skills in analysing data to the broader business-related implications.

Inability to assess her role – In one instance, Anna attended the executive committee meeting of digitalswitzerland, which consists of several CEOs of crucial industries in Switzerland. After the meeting, an informal discussion on the strategic outlook of one of digitalswitzerland’s key initiatives took place, whereas two prominent confronting opinions were represented. Anna jumped into the debate stating her views on the issue and acting as a mediator between the confronting views.

After the meeting, I immediately called her in and explained to her that this behaviour, coupled with her youthful appearance, could create significant difficulties for her career if someone misjudged her intentions. Anna took the feedback positively. I have observed a substantial change in her ability to judge situations where her much lower seniority level does not allow her to state her views. In our next career review, I outlined her positive change to her, and she was pleased to see that her efforts paid off.

Lack of business knowledge – In another instance, Anna was leading the financial analysis  as part of the post-merger integration of digitalswitzerland and ICTswitzerland in October 2020. Her task was to develop the new economic model of both organisations, identify implications on other business processes, and formulate recommendations on managing the existing member base more efficiently. Even though Anna’s financial model was excellent, her analysis of the implications of the obtained financial data on other business processes was insufficient. 

I think Anna should have sought out help and partnered with other team members. When I raised her lack of knowledge regarding business-related implications, she agreed, mentioning that she was looking for how to improve. I was pleased when Anna informed me in December that she is planning to pursue an MBA at CEIBS to bring her data analytics and monetisation skills, amongst others, to the next level. 

Anna is a talented and hardworking woman, highly capable of achieving her career goals. I feel her decision to pursue an MBA at this point makes perfect sense as it will help her take her expertise to the next level. I am convinced that Anna is an intensely engaged candidate and will add significant value to the CEIBS community.

Question 4: Please comment on the applicant’s ability to work with colleagues, including his or her supervisors, peers, and subordinates.

Anna sees the glass half full rather than half empty and manages to infect her colleagues with her positivity. She deeply cares about her work, her co-workers, and talks candidly about the stuff that must be addressed to improve the work environment for everyone. Her co-workers particularly value her for her can-do mentality and her team spirit.

To quote an example, Anna steps up to support her team members when in need. One colleague of the CEO office was in severe time constraints in finalising the Chain IQ Group Executive Board meeting presentation. Although working on a time-sensitive project, Anna quickly stepped and invested several hours in finishing the presentation. Above all, Anna went the extra mile and changed the presentation format to a more unified look, reaching out to all GEB members to get buy-in. I was particularly impressed by Anna’s open and positive approach to the task. 

In another instance, Anna raised the need for changing the onboarding of employees at Chain IQ after several new employees had raised the issue with her. Chain IQ had a very formal onboarding presentation that did not reflect Chain IQ’s values and beliefs. Anna then worked with the Head of Global HR and several colleagues across regions to improve new employees’ onboarding. The new onboarding has been a great success.

Overall, I believe Anna is a great colleague with high empathy towards the team and does what it takes to help them. This makes her a valuable asset for any community in which she takes part. I therefore strongly recommend her for CEIBS’ MBA program.

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