Berkley MIF sample essays and recommendation letters

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Berkley Application Essays & Questions 2023-2024

  1. Please discuss why you have decided to apply to the MFE at this time and what career path you intend to pursue post MFE
  2. If you have ever been placed on academic probation, been dismissed from a school, or received a failing grade (including non-graded courses for which you received an assessment of unsatisfactory or “not pass”), please explain
  3. What do you view as a particular strength of yours? What do you view as a particular weakness?
  4. Do you feel that your academic record is an accurate reflection of your ability and potential? In comparison to your college friends and classmates, do you feel that you were particularly advantaged or disadvantaged? Please explain.
  5. Provide an account of any gaps in your employment since your undergraduate degree.

Berkley Winning Sample Essays – 1

Question 1: Please discuss why you have decided to apply to the MFE at this time and what career path you intend to pursue post MFE.

After six years of invaluable experience as an Investment Analyst at Compass Group LLC, one of the largest Latin American hedge funds, I have developed a deep understanding of the financial markets and a profound appreciation for the complexities of the investment management industry. However, as my passion for finance continues to grow, I find myself yearning for a more comprehensive and specialized education that will equip me with the cutting-edge knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the ever-evolving financial landscape. 

This desire for academic and professional growth has led me to apply for the Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The program’s rigorous curriculum, which seamlessly integrates advanced financial theory with practical applications and quantitative techniques, aligns perfectly with my aspirations to become a leader in the field of quantitative finance and risk management.

Upon completing the MFE program, I intend to pursue a career path as a Quantitative Portfolio Manager or a Risk Management Specialist within a prominent investment management firm or a global financial institution. In these roles, I will leverage the advanced quantitative and computational skills acquired through the program to develop and implement sophisticated financial models, optimize portfolio construction, and effectively manage and mitigate various forms of risk.

Furthermore, the program’s emphasis on cutting-edge technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, will position me at the forefront of innovation in the finance industry. By mastering these emerging technologies and their applications in finance, I will be equipped to drive innovation and develop novel approaches to investment decision-making, risk management, and portfolio optimization.

Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the advancement of the financial industry by fostering responsible and sustainable investment practices that generate superior returns while simultaneously promoting ethical and socially responsible business practices. The MFE program at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business will provide me with the necessary foundation to achieve this goal, enabling me to combine my expertise in quantitative finance with a deep understanding of the broader economic, social, and environmental implications of investment decisions.

 

Question 2: If you have ever been placed on academic probation, been dismissed from a school, or received a failing grade (including non-graded courses for which you received an assessment of unsatisfactory or “not pass”), please explain.

Throughout my academic journey, I have maintained an unwavering commitment to excellence and integrity. I am proud to say that I have never been placed on academic probation, dismissed from a school, or received a failing grade. My academic records reflect a consistent track record of outstanding performance and a deep-rooted dedication to learning.

During my undergraduate studies at the Universidad Católica de Salta, where I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I consistently ranked among the top students in my class, ultimately graduating as the valedictorian. This achievement was a testament to my strong work ethic, time management skills, and ability to effectively balance academic demands with extracurricular activities and personal responsibilities.

Similarly, during my Master’s program in Finance at the prestigious Universidad del Cema in Buenos Aires, I maintained a high level of academic excellence, graduating in the top 10% of my class. The rigorous coursework and challenging assignments not only solidified my technical knowledge but also honed my critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, preparing me for the complexities of the professional world.

Beyond my academic pursuits, I have consistently demonstrated a commitment to lifelong learning and professional development. As a Level III candidate in the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) program, I have shown a dedication to staying abreast of the latest trends and best practices in the finance industry, further reinforcing my commitment to continuous improvement and knowledge acquisition.

In summary, my academic records across various institutions and programs reflect a consistent pattern of excellence, discipline, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. I have never encountered any instances of academic probation, dismissal, or unsatisfactory grades, as I have always approached my studies with the utmost seriousness and determination to succeed.

 

Question 3: What do you view as a particular strength of yours? What do you view as a particular weakness?

One of my greatest strengths lies in my ability to approach challenges with a growth mindset and an unwavering determination to succeed. Throughout my personal and professional journey, I have consistently demonstrated resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and self-improvement.

This strength was forged during a particularly challenging period in my life when my parents went through a difficult divorce, and my father ceased to provide financial support. Rather than allowing these circumstances to derail my aspirations, I took it upon myself to decline an opportunity to study at a prestigious university in Buenos Aires and instead remained in my hometown to provide emotional and economic support to my mother.

During this time, I worked tirelessly, juggling multiple part-time jobs and freelance gigs to ensure our financial stability. This experience taught me the value of perseverance, adaptability, and the importance of prioritizing family and community. It also instilled in me a deep sense of empathy and a drive to create positive social impact, which later manifested in my involvement with the non-profit organization “Un Techo para mi País” (A Roof for My Country), where I volunteered for two years to build houses for underprivileged families.

In my professional life as an Investment Analyst at Compass Group LLC, this strength has been a driving force behind my ability to navigate complex challenges and deliver exceptional results. When faced with an unprecedented number of IPOs in the Brazilian equity market, I embraced the daunting task with unwavering determination, working tirelessly to analyze and recommend successful investment opportunities that generated significant returns for our clients.

While my resilience and growth mindset are undoubtedly strengths, I recognize that my attention to detail and tendency towards perfectionism can sometimes be a double-edged sword. In my early days as a lead equity analyst, I found myself micromanaging tasks and failing to effectively delegate responsibilities to my team members. This approach slowed down the investment process and hindered my junior analysts’ professional development.

However, through constructive feedback and self-reflection, I have worked diligently to overcome this weakness. I have learned the importance of effective delegation, empowerment, and fostering a collaborative team environment. By embracing these lessons, I have not only improved my leadership abilities but also fostered a more efficient and productive work environment.

Moving forward, I am committed to continuously honing my strengths while actively addressing my weaknesses. By leveraging my resilience and growth mindset, and combining them with a heightened awareness of my tendencies towards perfectionism, I am confident in my ability to navigate the challenges of the MFE program and emerge as a well-rounded and effective leader in the field of quantitative finance.

 

Question 4: Do you feel that your academic record is an accurate reflection of your ability and potential? In comparison to your college friends and classmates, do you feel that you were particularly advantaged or disadvantaged? Please explain.

I firmly believe that my academic record is an accurate reflection of my ability and potential, as it showcases my unwavering commitment to excellence, intellectual curiosity, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. Throughout my academic journey, I have consistently excelled, graduating as the valedictorian during my undergraduate studies at the Universidad Católica de Salta and achieving a top 10% performance in my Master’s program in Finance at the prestigious Universidad del Cema in Buenos Aires.

However, it is important to recognize that academic success is not solely determined by innate abilities or intelligence but is also influenced by various external factors, including access to resources, support systems, and personal circumstances. In this regard, I acknowledge that I have faced both advantages and disadvantages compared to my college friends and classmates.On the one hand, growing up in a relatively underprivileged community in Salta, one of the poorest provinces of Argentina, presented significant challenges. Limited access to educational resources, financial constraints, and the need to juggle part-time jobs to support my family during difficult times could have easily hindered my academic progress. However, these challenges instilled in me a deep sense of resilience, determination, and a strong work ethic, which ultimately became catalysts for my success.

On the other hand, my family’s unwavering support and the strong sense of community I experienced provided a solid foundation for my personal and academic growth. The guidance and encouragement from my parents, teachers, and mentors played a crucial role in nurturing my intellectual curiosity and fostering a love for learning from an early age.

Moreover, my involvement in extracurricular activities, such as volunteering with “Un Techo para mi País” (A Roof for My Country) and serving as the captain of my college football team, enabled me to develop valuable leadership skills, teamwork abilities, and a broader perspective on life, all of which complemented my academic pursuits.

In comparison to my college friends and classmates, I believe that while some may have had access to better educational resources or more privileged backgrounds, my unique combination of resilience, work ethic, and a supportive community provided me with the necessary tools to overcome challenges and excel academically.

Ultimately, my academic record is a testament to my ability to navigate adversity, seize opportunities, and consistently.

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Berkley Winning Sample Essays – 2

Why You Have Decided to Apply to the MFE at This Time and What Career Path You Intend to Pursue Post-MFE (450-500 words)

I have decided to apply to the Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program at Berkeley Haas at this time due to a convergence of my professional experience, career aspirations, and the dynamic evolution of the finance industry. Over the past several years, I have cultivated a robust foundation in finance, particularly in roles that require complex financial analysis, risk management, and strategic decision-making. However, to propel my career to the next level and achieve my long-term goals, I recognize the need for specialized knowledge and skills that the MFE program offers.

The finance industry is undergoing rapid transformation, driven by advancements in technology, data analytics, and quantitative methods. The MFE program at Berkeley Haas is uniquely positioned to equip me with cutting-edge tools and techniques in quantitative finance, financial engineering, and machine learning. This specialized education will enable me to harness the power of data and technology to solve complex financial problems, develop innovative financial products, and enhance decision-making processes.

My decision to pursue the MFE at this time is also influenced by my career aspirations. Post-MFE, I intend to pursue a career in quantitative finance, specifically focusing on roles such as Quantitative Analyst, Financial Engineer, or Risk Manager within leading financial institutions or fintech firms. These roles will allow me to leverage my quantitative skills and financial expertise to develop and implement advanced models for pricing, risk management, and investment strategies. The rigorous curriculum and experiential learning opportunities provided by the MFE program will prepare me to excel in these high-impact roles.

Furthermore, my current role as a Senior Associate in Global Markets Treasury at Stanbic IBTC Bank has provided me with valuable experience in financial markets and trading. However, I have identified a gap in my understanding of advanced quantitative methods and their application to real-world financial challenges. The MFE program will fill this gap by offering a comprehensive education in stochastic processes, financial econometrics, and computational finance. This knowledge is essential for developing sophisticated financial models and strategies that can drive innovation and competitiveness in the finance industry.

In addition to the technical skills, the MFE program at Berkeley Haas offers unparalleled networking opportunities and access to a vibrant community of professionals, academics, and industry leaders. Engaging with this community will allow me to build meaningful connections, gain insights from diverse perspectives, and stay abreast of the latest trends and developments in quantitative finance. These interactions will be invaluable for my professional growth and for identifying potential career opportunities.

Overall, I am confident that the MFE program at Berkeley Haas is the ideal next step in my career journey. It will provide me with the advanced technical skills, industry knowledge, and professional network needed to achieve my career goals and make a meaningful impact in the field of quantitative finance. I am eager to contribute to and learn from the Berkeley Haas community and to leverage this transformative educational experience to drive innovation and excellence in my future career.

If You Have Ever Been Placed on Academic Probation, Been Dismissed from a School, or Received a Failing Grade (450-500 words)

I have never been placed on academic probation, been dismissed from a school, or received a failing grade throughout my academic career. My academic journey has been marked by consistent performance and a commitment to excellence, as evidenced by my high GPA of 4.05 on a 5.00 scale during my undergraduate studies in Finance at the University of Lagos.

However, I believe it is important to discuss the context in which my academic achievements were made and how I managed to maintain high academic standards despite various challenges. One of the significant factors that shaped my academic journey was the rigorous academic environment at the University of Lagos. The competitive atmosphere and the high expectations of both faculty and peers pushed me to continually strive for excellence and to develop effective study habits and time management skills.

While I did not encounter any academic probation or failing grades, I did face challenges that required resilience and adaptability. For instance, during my third year of university, I was awarded a full tuition scholarship for being the most improved student. This achievement was the result of a deliberate effort to overcome earlier academic struggles, particularly in adjusting to the university’s rigorous academic demands. I sought additional support from professors, formed study groups with classmates, and utilized campus resources to improve my understanding of complex subjects. This experience taught me the importance of perseverance, seeking help when needed, and continuously improving my academic performance.

Another aspect worth mentioning is the balance I maintained between academics and extracurricular activities. As the Head of Welfare for the University Women’s Society, I was responsible for supporting over 180 nursing mothers across the university. This role required significant time and effort, and balancing these responsibilities with my academic workload was challenging. However, it also taught me valuable lessons in time management, leadership, and prioritization, which contributed to my overall academic success.

In summary, while I have never been placed on academic probation, dismissed from a school, or received a failing grade, my academic journey was not without its challenges. The experiences I had in overcoming academic difficulties, balancing extracurricular responsibilities, and striving for continuous improvement have shaped my approach to learning and personal growth. These experiences have equipped me with the skills and resilience needed to excel in rigorous academic programs and to thrive in demanding professional environments.

What Do You View as a Particular Strength of Yours? What Do You View as a Particular Weakness? (450-500 words)

One of my particular strengths is my resilience. Resilience has been a defining characteristic throughout my personal and professional journey, enabling me to overcome challenges and setbacks with determination and a positive mindset. This strength has been evident in various aspects of my life, from navigating personal adversities to achieving significant milestones in my career.

A pivotal moment that showcased my resilience was the sudden passing of my mother due to inadequate healthcare. This tragedy profoundly affected me, but it also fueled my determination to make a difference in the world, particularly in sectors where improvements are critically needed. My resilience allowed me to channel my grief into a driving force for personal and professional growth. I founded Grief and Relief Nigeria, an organization dedicated to supporting individuals facing grief, domestic violence, and trauma. This initiative reflects my ability to turn adversity into action and to inspire and lead others toward positive change.

In my professional career, resilience has been instrumental in navigating complex financial challenges and driving successful outcomes. As a Senior Associate in Global Markets Treasury at Stanbic IBTC Bank, I have led negotiations with the Central Bank of Nigeria, unlocking $380 million in foreign exchange flows, and designed a digital pricing template that reduced labor costs by 70%. These accomplishments required perseverance, adaptability, and a proactive approach to problem-solving.

On the other hand, a particular weakness of mine is a tendency toward perfectionism. While striving for excellence is generally positive, my perfectionism can sometimes lead to over-analysis and delays in decision-making. I often find myself spending excessive time ensuring every detail is perfect, which can be counterproductive and stressful. This trait sometimes hinders my ability to delegate tasks, as I feel compelled to oversee every aspect of a project to ensure it meets my high standards.

Recognizing this weakness, I am actively working on finding a balance between striving for excellence and knowing when to accept that good enough is sufficient to move forward effectively. I am learning to set realistic goals, prioritize tasks, and trust my team members to handle responsibilities. By delegating more effectively and focusing on the bigger picture, I can enhance productivity and reduce stress.

In summary, resilience is a particular strength of mine that has enabled me to overcome challenges and drive positive outcomes in both personal and professional contexts. Conversely, my tendency toward perfectionism is a weakness that I am actively addressing by learning to delegate more effectively, set realistic goals, and focus on overall progress rather than minute details. These self-awareness and continuous improvement efforts will help me leverage my strengths and mitigate my weaknesses, allowing me to achieve greater success in my career and personal life.

Do You Feel That Your Academic Record is an Accurate Reflection of Your Ability and Potential? In Comparison to Your College Friends and Classmates, Do You Feel That You Were Particularly Advantaged or Disadvantaged? Please Explain. (450-500 words)

I believe that my academic record is a strong and accurate reflection of my ability and potential. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Lagos with a high GPA of 4.05 on a 5.00 scale demonstrates my commitment to academic excellence and my capability to perform well under rigorous academic conditions. My academic achievements, including being awarded the best student in Quantitative Analysis and earning a full tuition scholarship for being the most improved student, further underscore my dedication and potential.

However, it is important to consider the context in which these achievements were made. Compared to some of my college friends and classmates, I faced both advantages and disadvantages that shaped my academic journey.

One of the advantages I had was a supportive family environment that valued education. My parents instilled in me the importance of academic success and provided the encouragement and resources necessary to excel. This support system was crucial in helping me navigate the challenges of university life and maintain a high level of academic performance. Additionally, my early exposure to finance and business through family discussions and involvement in family-owned businesses gave me a head start in understanding complex financial concepts, which benefited my academic studies.

Conversely, there were also significant disadvantages that I had to overcome. The educational infrastructure in Nigeria, particularly in public universities, often presents challenges such as inadequate resources, limited access to up-to-date materials, and frequent disruptions due to strikes and other socio-political issues. These factors can hinder the learning process and make it difficult for students to achieve their full potential. Despite these obstacles, I was able to maintain a strong academic record through resilience, determination, and effective time management.

Another disadvantage was the need to balance academics with extracurricular responsibilities. As the Head of Welfare for the University Women’s Society, I was responsible for supporting over 180 nursing mothers across the university. This role required significant time and effort, often demanding that I juggle multiple responsibilities. While this experience provided valuable leadership skills, it also added to the challenge of maintaining high academic performance.

In comparison to some of my peers who may have had access to more advanced educational resources or less demanding extracurricular responsibilities, these disadvantages required me to develop strong resilience and time management skills. These experiences have shaped my ability to adapt, persevere, and excel in challenging environments, which are critical skills for success in both academic and professional settings.

In summary, while my academic record accurately reflects my ability and potential, it is essential to acknowledge the context of both advantages and disadvantages that influenced my journey. The support from my family and early exposure to finance were significant advantages, while the challenges of the educational infrastructure and balancing extracurricular responsibilities were notable disadvantages. These experiences have collectively contributed to my development, equipping me with the resilience, determination, and adaptability needed to succeed in future academic and professional endeavors.

Provide an Account of Any Gaps in Your Employment Since Your Undergraduate Degree (450-500 words)

Since completing my undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Lagos, there have been no significant gaps in my employment. I have maintained a continuous and progressive career trajectory, which has allowed me to gain substantial experience and achieve notable milestones in the financial sector.

Immediately after graduation in 2017, I secured a position as an Analyst in the Energy Assurance division at PwC Nigeria. This role marked the beginning of my professional journey, and I was responsible for leading discussions and remediation on behalf of non-compliant energy clients, preparing post-merger financial statements, and developing quality assurance reporting strategies. My time at PwC provided a solid foundation in financial analysis, compliance, and client management, setting the stage for my subsequent career advancements.

In 2019, I transitioned to Stanbic IBTC Bank, a member of the Standard Bank Africa Group, where I initially took on the role of Analyst in the Global Markets Treasury, Energy – Sales division. Over the next few years, I demonstrated my expertise and leadership capabilities, resulting in multiple promotions. I progressed to Associate and then Senior Associate in Global Markets Treasury, FX Trading, where I currently lead significant projects, including designing digital pricing templates, negotiating with the Central Bank of Nigeria, and implementing customer retention strategies.

Throughout my career, I have maintained a focus on continuous professional development, ensuring that I am always engaged in meaningful and impactful work. This commitment to growth and advancement has prevented any significant gaps in my employment history. I have consistently sought opportunities to enhance my skills, take on new challenges, and contribute to my organization’s success.

During my career, I have also engaged in various professional development activities, such as obtaining my Chartered Accountant certification and participating in industry conferences and seminars. These activities have complemented my work experience, allowing me to stay updated on the latest trends and developments in the finance industry and to continuously improve my knowledge and skills.

Additionally, my involvement in social impact initiatives has been an integral part of my journey. I founded Grief and Relief Nigeria, a community organization supporting individuals facing grief, domestic violence, and trauma, and The Girl-Child Progression Initiative, which supports the education and personal development of underprivileged young girls in Nigeria. These initiatives reflect my commitment to giving back to the community and addressing critical social issues, further enriching my professional and personal life.

In summary, there have been no significant gaps in my employment since my undergraduate degree. My career has been characterized by continuous growth, professional development, and impactful contributions to the finance sector and the community. This consistent and progressive career trajectory demonstrates my dedication, resilience, and ability to excel in dynamic and challenging environments. As I pursue further education and career opportunities, I am confident that my background and experiences have prepared me well for the next steps in my professional journey.

Berkley Recommendation Letter – Key Questions

  1. To what degree do you recommend this applicant be admitted to the MFE Program?
  2. How long have you known the applicant and under what capacity?
  3. What are the applicant’s colleagues like and how does the applicant compare?
  4. How effective are the applicant’s interpersonal skills in working with peers, supervisors, and subordinates?
  5. What are the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Please comment on the applicant’s ethics.
  7. Please feel free to add any additional comments or to explain your ratings here.

MiF Recommendation Letters
(Free Samples & successful Examples)

Professor - Recommendation letter Sample 1

Here is a quick PDF of a sample recommendation our client submitted for a successful admit. 

Free Sample Recommendation Letter For Masters Application -  - Ameerkhatri.com

To,

Admissions Committee

HEC Paris – Masters in Finance Program

 

Date: 08-09-2023

 

Subject: “Recommendation letter for Akhil’s application to MIF program at HEC Paris”

Dear Admissions Committee, 

I have known Akhil for over 2 years now. He was a student in my Entrepreneurship course as part of his Minor in Entrepreneurship and Management. As a student in my class, Akhil showed great skill at applying these notions in the more practical in-class quizzes, his final group business pitch at the end of the course, and his professional activities at UBS. Akhil’s also had a remarkable performance in my course, in which Akhil got the highest grade possible of A+. 

In terms of his potential,

Akhil stood out to me in the final project that I gave as part of the course evaluation.  As a major assessment, I give a project assignment for students to work in groups and pitch a good, self-sustaining business idea.

Akhil took the initiative and created a multicultural and diverse team with students not only from different countries but also students from different majors and successfully delivered a group business pitch for a student-run laundry and cleaning business. The idea picked by his team was unique, and he actively sought my advice and mentorship to make the team and the project successful. 

Another noteworthy facet is the analytical research done by Akhil before and after seeking my advice; he actively made an effort to learn about diverse topics that he had not been exposed to before and was successfully able to learn about the different aspects of entrepreneurship, such as management and finance. Demonstrating his goal and detail-oriented ability. Rhe idea, the data oriented research, and the financial analysis were really impressive (synthesized and executed on assigned taks). Also, the real-world considerations regarding the execution of the pitch, as well as the cohesive delivery from a team collaboration perspective, were good. 

I liked the project, and I asked Akhil if I could include the pitch and presentation as teaching material for my course as well as offering a Research Assistant position to Akhil in the next summer, which he was unable to take due to him having graduated

With his analytical skills and his collaborative approach, it came to me as no surprise that he was able to successfully chase his goal and transition into finance directly from his undergrad in engineering, landing a role in finance with UBS in their Investment Banking Operations in Hong Kong. 

In terms of his potential areas of Improvement

I think Akhil’s analytical nature and detail-orientedness sometimes leads to him getting too caught up in details and spending excess time on the intricate details, leading to improper time management. 

In the group project, Akhil struggled with time management and was a week behind schedule for his group due to him giving equal attention to all the details of the presentation, losing track of the bigger picture of the project. With my guidance, he was able to get back on speed and submitted the project by the submission deadline. But I believe that Akhil needs to work on gaining a view of the overall project that he is working for better time management.

Overall Recommendation

Akhil is only starting his financial career, but he has the analytical skills and a level of understanding about management, teamwork and other elements of organizational life that are comparable to other top students that I recommended before to Masters programs. 

Akhil’s progress at CityU and at UBS clearly demonstrates his intellect and hard work. He is capable and has an acute intellectual capacity for thinking analytically. I believe Akhil is on track to make a successful career that blends his quantitative inclinations with his qualititaive skills, inspiring those that he will lead and work with. 

To conclude, I strongly recommend Akhil, and I would be happy to talk with you specifically about his candidacy if you have additional questions.

Regards

Professor XXXXXX
Head of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Management

XXXX University

How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate?

I have known Pranav for roughly one and a half years. I was his mentor during his internship with UBS. Although he completed his internship and has moved on, we still continue to keep in touch to exchange different business ideas.

What do you think about the candidate’s professional performance and potential (including any room for improvement)?

When Pranav started his internship with UBS, he was one of the most proactive interns. Since he didn’t have a finance background, he showed keen interest in learning and came up the curve very quickly. 

The team assigned him Automation and Efficiency-related projects, and while working in the automation team he managed to stand out from other interns by providing solutions that were slightly outside of the box and impressed everyone on the team. 

For instance, he met with various team leads to understand their automation requirements and one team lead expressed her frustration with the manual risk report that used to take 10-12 hours every quarter. After the meeting, Pranav took the proactive step of helping automate this report for the team. The specific process automation that he implemented was for risk reports for the risk team. The team had a manual time consuming process in which they had to refer to multiple Excel sheets to create their quarterly risk report. Pranav understood and mapped the entire process before using an automation tool to automate it. This led to a time reduction of 90 percent in the compilation of the report. The automation process he designed was ingenious; no one had thought of using it before, and that is why I think everyone was impressed with his out-of-the-box thinking. 

Apart from that, another one of his biggest strengths is his willingness to take initiative. 

To highlight another instance, he noticed the dashboards in Operations and wider UBS were on Tableau, he took the initiative to compare Tableau and PowerBi and pitched shifting the employee statistics dashboard to PowerBi. The management team agreed and Pranav successfully created an Employee demographic dashboard on PowerBi. This led to cost savings for the department as UBS was already paying for PowerBi. He also took even more initiative, helping others in his team and UBS get certified on PowerBi and documented his knowledge for everyone before he left his internship.

On the flip side, when it comes to areas of improvement, I would also say this proactiveness and eagerness sometimes led to difficult situations. Like other fresh hires, he was also trying to prove himself in the initial months of his tenure with the team. However, this often meant that he would try to manage and solve things on his own instead of seeking help. This led to delays and situations becoming critical.

Pranav was tasked with getting certified on Automation Anywhere, another automation tool used by the team. He was unable to crack the certification according to the timeline assigned to him and was delayed by a month in getting certified. He tried to manage and solve the situation but was unable to do so without help from his team, this delay led to an increased workload for the rest of the team and longer hours as work had been earmarked for Pranav to do as soon as he would be finished with the certification. 

Overall, I would say that Pranav has great potential; he is not afraid to take the initiative and present his ideas.

Regards
XXXXXX
Manager – UBS, Hong Kong Offices

How do you know the applicant? How long have you known them for?

I have known Huang for almost 2 years now. 

I came to know Huang when he was working at Chainfir Capital. I was an investor of the fund at Chainfir Capital. Huang worked as an investment manager at Chainfir and we had meetings together from time to time.

Later when Huang and his colleagues decided to start their own Venture Capital fund (Genesis 22) focused on crypto industry, I joined their venture both as an investor and an advisor of their VC Fund. 

What would you say are the applicant’s key strengths and talents?

After working with Huang, I think one of his key talents is that he is very detail oriented and loves to perform extensive due diligence.

For instance, Genesis 22 was close to making an investment decision on a project called Glitter Finance last year. At the time, it was a rather popular project among VCs and had already received several investments. The analyst in our team provided positive comments on its technology and future potential. 

Huang was responsible for speaking with the project team and conducting due diligence. He was able to approach the situation with a sceptical mind and later identified several risks of the project by paying attention to each detail. He made an analysis of the profile of each team member of the project and determined that the technical background of the team was not strong enough to develop the promising highly technical project they claimed. Also, he mentioned that while observing all the interaction between the founder of the project and individual investors in the community group, he noticed that the founder often gets angry easily when facing tough questions. 

He raised these concerns during the investment decision meeting, and at the end of the meeting, we decided not to invest. A few months later – the project went bust because the value of the project was way inflated and every institutional investor suffered a loss. I am glad that Huang was able to pay close attention to such details and has always worked with great attention to achieve better performance.

Another key talent of Huang is his multi-tasking skills. I am really impressed by his performance in dealing with a variety of projects simultaneously. When he works as an investment manager in the team, he needs to handle the communication and investigation with 5-8 projects at the same time. He has never left others waiting for his work, and we can always set up the evaluation meeting in the anticipated time frame. He is also able to deal with the pressure when there are extra projects which need his attention.

What would you say are the applicant’s key weaknesses or areas for improvement?

As the founder of a venture capital firm, Huang has built a team and became a leader at such a young age. But I think there is still room for improvement in his management skills, especially in delegating workload. 

As Huang prefers to participate in every stage of the investment decision of a certain project, it limits the overall number of projects he can oversee. For example, he spent much time on initial screening and understanding complex technology concepts of different projects. In my opinion, he could delegate this work and trust his colleagues to complete these tasks as our analysts with technology backgrounds are capable of determining the technology feasibility so that he can invest most of his time in reviewing the big picture.

Second thing I have asked him to improve upon is that he can sometimes be over-optimistic and confident when things are going well. From my perspective, it is crucial to keep a cool mind when dealing with different market situations. When he started Genesis 22, several investments that we made looked promising. Consequently, he was on the aggressive side to allocate a higher proportion of the fund to such projects. However, when there was a change in the market trend and crypto industry started crashing, some investments did not perform as well as we expected. The fund suffered extra losses because of the higher allocation made to these investments. 

Huang realized his mistake afterwards and became more cautious in making an allocation to investments to improve the diversification of the portfolio. I hope he has learned his lesson and does not repeat the same mistake again. 

In which areas of development has the applicant progressed most in the time you’ve known them?

Overall the one big area where I think Huang has really improved is his ability to find and initiate business opportunities and partnerships.

When he started Genesis 22 Ventures, His venture was not receiving stable cash flow except for the return on the investments. He or his patterns did not know that a venture capital fund can expand its business through partnerships and pitching good projects to other VC firms. This way they can build a revenue stream based on commission without risking their own money. 

When I brought this up to him, he learned the rules quickly. He has put in great effort in communicating with other VCs to understand how others operate and create business ideas. The first few times when I had meetings with Huang he could only interpret the general basics of the start-up projects. Therefore, he was not able to provide insightful opinions in decision making. After Huang talked to many teams and spent much time reading industry news, I observed that he was getting better and better at describing business models of different projects in a big picture. Although Huang doesn’t have a strong technology background, he is able to integrate the work of analysts into his knowledge and present a blockchain project in a big picture smoothly.

Through partnerships and advisory services, Huang has helped the venture generate around $40,000 in extra revenue. Genesis 22 has expanded its services to crypto exchange listing consulting, funding advisory and community management for startup projects, etc.

I have seen him learn and grow and I think Huang has progressed massively in his commercial awareness.

If you are a professional referee, would you work with the applicant again post-Masters in Financial Analysis?

Absolutely. Although his fund currently suffers a drop in the quality of deal flow given the bearish situation of the blockchain market, he has made the right decision to make very few investments recently based on the interests of investors. I respect his decision to pursue a master’s in finance degree, and if he wants to resume his Venture Capital firm full-time or work at my VC in the future I would love to work with him again.



Do’s:

  1. Choose the Right Recommender:

    • Select someone who knows you well, can speak to your professional skills and achievements, and can provide detailed and specific examples of your work. Current or past supervisors, clients, or mentors who have worked closely with you are ideal choices.
  2. Provide Specific Examples:

    • Ensure the recommender includes specific examples of your accomplishments, skills, and experiences. This makes the recommendation more credible and impactful. Detailed anecdotes and quantifiable achievements are particularly effective.
  3. Meet with Your Recommender:

    • Schedule a meeting with your recommender to discuss your goals, achievements, and reasons for pursuing an MBA. Provide them with a detailed résumé and a list of your accomplishments to help them write a thorough and personalized letter.
  4. Ensure Timely Submission:

    • Set a personal deadline for your recommenders that is well ahead of the actual application deadline. This helps ensure that your letters are submitted on time and reduces last-minute stress.
  5. Highlight Strengths and Areas for Growth:

    • Encourage your recommender to provide a balanced view by mentioning your strengths along with areas for growth. Constructive feedback adds credibility and shows your willingness to improve.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t Write Your Own Recommendation:

    • Never write your own letter of recommendation, even if a recommender suggests it. Admissions committees can easily detect self-written letters, which can harm your application.
  2. Don’t Choose Recommenders Based on Title Alone:

    • Avoid selecting recommenders solely based on their impressive titles or positions if they do not know you well. A letter from a CEO or politician who has minimal interaction with you is less effective than one from someone who can provide detailed insights into your work and character.
  3. Don’t Use Generic Praise:

    • Ensure your recommender avoids using vague, generic praise without backing it up with specific examples. Statements like “She is a great employee” are less impactful than detailed anecdotes that illustrate why you are exceptional.
  4. Don’t Ignore the Application Instructions:

    • Make sure your recommenders follow the specific instructions and format required by each business school. Different schools may have varying requirements, and it’s important to adhere to them.
  5. Don’t Overload with Superlatives:

    • Encourage your recommender to be honest and avoid excessive use of superlatives. Over-the-top praise without substance can seem insincere. Balanced, realistic assessments that highlight genuine strengths and achievements are more effective.

These do’s and don’ts will help ensure that the letters of recommendation are strong, credible, and supportive of your MBA application.

Here’s is a quick template tailored for candidates applying to a Master’s in Finance program:

Admissions Committee
[Finance Program Name]
[University Name]
[University Address]
[City, State, ZIP Code]

[Date]

Subject: “Letter of recommendation for [Candidate’s Name]”

Dear Members of the Admissions Committee,

I am pleased to write this letter of recommendation for [Candidate’s Name]. I have had the pleasure of working with [Candidate’s Name] at [Company Name] for [duration], where I serve as [Recommender’s Title]. In my capacity, I have directly supervised [Candidate’s Name] and have gained a thorough understanding of their professional capabilities and character, particularly in the field of finance.

Specific Examples of Performance and Achievements

[Candidate’s Name] has consistently demonstrated exceptional [skills/qualities] in finance. For example, in [specific project/task], [Candidate’s Name] [specific action taken], which resulted in [quantifiable result/outcome]. This achievement is indicative of [Candidate’s Name]’s [particular quality, e.g., analytical skills, financial modeling, risk management].

Another instance of [Candidate’s Name]’s capabilities was during [another specific project/task]. Here, [Candidate’s Name] [specific action taken], leading to [quantifiable result/outcome]. This project highlighted [Candidate’s Name]’s ability to [related skills, e.g., manage financial portfolios, conduct market analysis, handle complex financial challenges].

Constructive Feedback and Areas of Improvement

During our time working together, I provided [Candidate’s Name] with constructive feedback on [specific area for improvement]. In response, [Candidate’s Name] [specific actions taken to improve]. This demonstrated their openness to feedback and commitment to personal and professional growth in the financial sector.

Leadership Skills and Team Inclusiveness

[Candidate’s Name] is known for their inclusiveness and encouragement of others. For example, during [specific instance], [Candidate’s Name] [specific actions taken to include and encourage others]. This behavior fostered a collaborative and supportive work environment and showcased their leadership and interpersonal skills.

Conclusion and Endorsement

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly endorse [Candidate’s Name] for the [Master’s in Finance program] at [University Name]. I am confident that [Candidate’s Name]’s [specific strengths/qualities] will be an asset to your program and that they will thrive in the academically rigorous and collaborative environment of [University Name].

Please feel free to contact me at [Recommender’s Email] or [Recommender’s Phone Number] if you require any further information.

Sincerely,

[Recommender’s Name]
[Recommender’s Title]
[Company Name]

Free Recommendation Letter sample text for masters application

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