HKUST Letter of Recommendation Questions
- How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate? (No word limit)
- If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long? (No word limit)
- What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents? (No word limit)
- What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement? (No word limit)
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HKUST Letter of Recommendation Example-1
1) How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate?
I am a manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP. I have worked with Akanksha for a little more than a year as her direct supervisor.
2) If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long?
Akanksha has been working with Deloitte Consulting LLP for the past 4 years. Last year, she was promoted to a Consultant’s role.
3) What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?
Since last year, after being promoted as a consultant, Akanksha has been mostly involved in client-facing roles. I think one of her principal strengths is collaborating with cross-functional teams involving clients and other stakeholders in the project.
I observed this strength of Akanksha when she was working as a tech lead on the CDM Smith project. The requirements of the project were little unclear. Akanksha put in commendable efforts in collaborating and coordinating with the client and our teams in USA, Delhi and Bengaluru to get the requirements clarified. Her apt handling of conflicts between client and our on-site and local teams ensured that everyone was on the same page throughout the project. She acted as a single point of contact and stretched her working hours to manage project work between globally dispersed teams in different time zones. With Akanksha’s commitment and efficient collaboration, the team managed to deliver the entire project ahead of time schedule. This project showcased her potential to lead future projects and fill in the shoes of a senior consultant.
Another key strength of Akanksha, I really appreciate, is her diversified interest in Deloitte’s extracurricular activities. She has been leading Deloitte’s education-focused CSR team for 3 years in partnership with an NGO named Literacy India. She leads a team of 20 volunteers for all projects related to child education which includes fundraising, organizing volunteer visits, and other events. To me, this displays her versatile nature and self-motivation. It’s always a pleasure to have such a team member who keeps the entire team motivated towards benevolent causes.
Overall, I think it’s her social work experience that has really helped her hone her collaboration and project management skills, which reflects in her professional work as well and this makes her stand out among her peers in the organization.
4) What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement?
Until now, Akanksha has had a purely technical background with limited exposure to the business aspect of projects. One significant area where I feel she needs to improve is her overall understanding of the business structures and workflow processes.
In one instance, on the CDM Smith project, because of her inexperience and lack of understanding regarding business flow processes, she was not able to correctly map client’s project division rules to its accounting structure. The mapping process required a deeper understanding of the client’s overall business flow and hierarchy. She missed certain scenarios related to client’s intracompany projects in her solution design and this resulted in the failure of 2 other connected applications. She should have asked me or her functional peers in the team for an initial walkthrough to help her get acquainted with the client’s business structure.
In our first annual performance review, we discussed her need to start working on her business knowledge as it is crucial to moving ahead into a senior consultant’s role, where she will be expected to handle overall project delivery and guide her team. I also explained to her that she should not hesitate and be more open to reaching out to experts in order to expand her knowledge base.
She took the feedback positively. I have observed a significant change in her work methodology and she now freely reaches out to her peers to seek help where needed. Over time she has shown great improvement in her understanding of workflow processes in different business modules. Akanksha is a talented and hardworking girl, 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.
HKUST Letter of Recommendation Example – 2
I have known Kriti for 4.5 years now. She started working for Jabong as a Features Writer where I was a Senior Manager in the Pricing and Planning team. Kriti was the key point of contact between creative & pricing strategy teams for 1.5 years.
If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long?
Kriti was promoted from Fashion Writer to Assistant Editor within 6 months of her employment. She worked at this position for a little over a year.
I would call initiative-taking to be a core strength of Kriti.
The goal of the Pricing team is to set prices so as to generate maximum revenue. Generally pricing decisions are taken independent of creative teams at Jabong, but when Kriti started attending our monthly meetings as the rep from her team, she was keen on building a homogenous effort between the 2 teams. She has an analytical mindset and grasped how our pricing decisions were being made – she wanted to see the impact of creative changes with pricing on the ecommerce website and whether it factors into revenue generated. To that end, Kriti drove the effort to have The Mood Store (a web campaign she pitched for a big sales event) at the front and centre of the website, based on her understanding of the audiences and web traffic data.
Over the next 3 months, Kriti collaborated with different teams among web, marketing, merchandising and pricing, and was the product owner of the Mood store to oversee launch and timelines with full accountability. The CMO appreciated the campaign and even extended it to a national TV commercial.
Another strength of Kriti’s is her resourcefulness and perseverance.
During the same project, we had difficulties getting confirmation from 2 big sports brands about their involvement and visibility on our platform. The pricing strategy had to be done without them as we were running out of time and hence they couldn’t be on the website too, which Kriti wasn’t ready to accept as they were prominent in the Jabong portfolio. Kriti kept following up with the brands and managed to secure their approval. Although those were the top selling brands on the platform, it was quite late for internal teams to accommodate them. Kriti took ownership of the delay and leveraged her connections across different teams to ensure that the brands were included before launch.
The project was a success with +33% YoY for the event. The CEO gave Kriti a shout out in the town hall.
While Kriti’s enthusiasm on a project is motivating, sometimes she tends to not take processing times and workflows into account for assessing feasibility. On the Mood project, Kriti got the 2 main brands’ approval at the last minute. At that time, the pricing strategy had already been locked, so were the creatives and website real estate allocation for all brands.
Although having the 2 biggest brands positively impacted the bottomline, it increased last minute workload for multiple teams involved because of Kriti’s inexperience in assessing internal dependencies and timelines. It could have been handled better had Kriti discussed in advance the level of impact on all teams or by escalating the issue to get confirmation from those brands sooner for a smoother run.
I noticed that this experience taught Kriti how to better communicate across cross functional teams as reflected in emails and meetings- making sure everyone was in the loop, raising clear warnings regarding potential hold-ups and summarizing meetings and calls with clear next steps and accountability.
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