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CMU Tepper Letter of Recommendation

CMU Tepper Letter of Recommendation Questions

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended word count: 500 words)

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CMU Tepper Letter of Recommendation Example – 1

1. What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?

One of the key strengths of Isha, that also makes her shine in her role, is her ability to go beyond and bring creative ideas to the table and execute them elegantly. 4 months into the job, Isha came up with an idea called ‘Late Nights with Netflix’ for India’s Instagram page. While the project was aligned with Netflix’ social media strategy, it was difficult to gauge response and put money behind it. Naturally, there was resistance from the Netflix team when the idea was pitched. Isha stepped up and took complete ownership of this project’s performance. Even though this was Isha’s first project, she handled everything right from cost negotiations, design to content and production. The project could either be a huge success with vast consumer reach or a terrible failure. Isha took the chance but also planned out how we can measure success in the initial phase and stop if the idea doesn’t fly, thereby minimizing damage.Her detailed analysis and compelling storytelling capabilities gave Netflix the confidence to approve the project. Late Nights with Netflix was commissioned for 4 episodes but since the investment was high – Isha agreed with the client to do a test run with 2 episodes to weigh the outcome and decide further action. It was one of the first feature projects Isha led from start to end in a remote working environment which required taking total responsibility without being on ground and still managing to execute it smoothly. But what Isha did had more than a monetary impact on our agency. She set an example and brought about a cultural shift inspiring our creative team to be more confident about pitching bold ideas. 

Another strength of Isha is her team and stakeholder management skills. Working in a creative agency means churning content on a regular basis with daily targets. Having such daily goals and targets put the team under a great deal of pressure. Isha was able to manage the team effectively and handle their emotions. She would take her time to ensure the client’s pressure isn’t transferred to the rest of the team. On the other hand, Isha also had a great knack for managing and delivering client expectations. Isha went beyond her role to understand the client’s business and their goals to the extent that she established herself as a credible and an important team member. I remember this one incident when 5 different 3rd party creative agencies working with Netflix reached out to Isha for inputs. This goes to say that Isha really earned our client Netflix’ trust and credibility to a large extent. Therefore, I believe Isha’ ability to take incredible ownership, be the center of it all and run the show makes her a great candidate for a future  business lead.

2. What are the areas where the candidate has potential to improve?

The most constructive piece of feedback I gave to Isha is that she needs to learn when and where to stop fighting for her ideas. Isha is extremely passionate about her work and sometimes gets too attached to her ideas. As a result, she would display resistance towards any creative feedback. I specifically would like to mention one example when a simple post for our client took 5 rounds of feedback and 2 hours to be approved, while she could have used that time and effort on bigger production projects running parallely.

I spoke to Isha the same evening, where she explained how the idea came with a lot of effort from the creative team and that they would be demotivated if it did not go through. However, she also acknowledged that time spent on debating could have been used elsewhere productively. I told Isha that while it is important to believe in what we pitch, we need to know how to deal with feedback from a client and push back when required but also walk away when essential. I also counseled her that she needs to choose her battles wisely and be more open to feedback from clients. Isha took my advice with a pinch of salt, as she is creatively inclined and always advocates for her team. Overtime I saw her managing client situations more tactfully, keeping efficiency and productivity in mind. The client was also more open to discussion as she learnt to present with ration keeping emotions aside.  

CMU Tepper Letter of Recommendation Example – 2

1. What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?

Aditya was one of the first picks of freshers’ recruitment drive into Avi Networks, which is now part of VMware. Though four freshers were selected as part of this, only Aditya was put in the test-infrastructure team, which is one of the most challenging and demanding jobs in the company. With no prior corporate experience, he seamlessly settled in the diverse team that consisted of members whose experience varied between 3 to 18 years.

Adi came into the team when the development of the new infrastructure was still in the preliminary state. He was included in the design discussions where he always used to give a fresh perspective to the complications and provided innovative solutions to them. 

One quality of Aditya that I most admire is his composed approach to the most complex problems. I remember an incident where our team was asked for a very ambitious feature critical to acquire a potential customer. Although it was a huge stretch to complete within the timeframe, most of the other team members agreed. But, Adi asked for a day’s time to rethink and the next day he came up with a very innovative solution and an apparent foolproof plan to go ahead with the project. His clarity of thought and clearness of presentation almost makes each of his ideas appeal. And his implementation still had to be spot on according to his plan. I was really impressed by the way he involved his juniors and other resources at that point in time. This made me trust him with more complex assignments in the future. Adi exhibits maturity beyond his age while dealing with cross-functional and cross-border teams. Owing to his ownership and resilience, the feature was delivered on time helping us to secure the customer. 

Another unique quality Adi possesses is the way he cares and mentors his team members. There was once a new joinee, fresh out of college, who had a tough time understanding concepts and technicalities in his first project. I remember Aditya sitting with him patiently not just helping him with the project but getting him to speed with all the concepts helping him to attain confidence for his future projects. On the day of critical releases or sprints, he can be seen taking out chunks of his personal time in order to guide others in the team to meet their deadlines.  This attitude led him to create opportunities for himself. He was able to pursue the leadership team to get himself into the Product Management team which aligns with his professional goals. His qualities were trusted by both the PM team and leadership team to offer him the role and now he is the youngest one in the PM team.

2. What are the areas where the candidate has potential to improve?

There are no other major weaknesses concerning Aditya. But during the first year of his employment, he had a habit of getting carried away a little too much. There was a situation where we had a very busy sprint and a couple of very important projects were part of that sprint release. Aditya was responsible for a couple of tasks as part of the sprint release. But he was stuck working on another complex project which wasn’t very time-sensitive. He got carried away with that and found himself on the verge of facing a backlog for the project which was of high urgency. When this came to my attention, I had a discussion with him about prioritizing tasks which might be critical and urgent to the company’s plans. He agreed with me and promised me he would be more professional about this. I think he realized he needs to have a balance between his passion for doing things that excites him and being professional and efficient at his job. I don’t remember him missing a single project deadline after that. 

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