WHU Otto 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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WHU Otto Letter of Recommendation Example – 1
1. How long have you known the applicant?
I know Mohit Sharma since May 2017.
2. Under what circumstances have you known the applicant?
I am holding the position as head of the Tender Management Team since May 2017. Mohit Sharma has been directly reporting to me since then. Mohit Sharma joined Siemens in August 2014 as a Graduate Trainee Engineer.
3. What are the applicant’s most outstanding talents or characteristics?
I believe one of Mohit’s principal strengths is his sincerity and ownership he takes in the bidding process.
The profile of Tender Management requires a lot of ownership as there are implications on Profits if the scope of work is incorrectly understood. Mohit understands the implications of the steps he is taking in the pricing of a particular tender. He is always very cautious and documents everything properly. He tries his level best to get all the work done and comes for my support in a few critical issues only. For ex: In one of the very complex tenders of Indian Oil Corporation Limited, there was little clarity regarding the scope of work as the tender was a Retrofit job and the tender documents were very open ended. There can be a lot of non-conforming costs if requirements are not understood clearly. Mohit took full ownership of this tender and sincerely engaged with the customer and read all the tender documents thoroughly to understand each and every need of the client correctly. He made sure to make the agreements with all the major vendors for written confirmation about the division of responsibility to mitigate the risks. Even the client appreciated his efforts and dedication and Siemens ultimately won the tender order. For his level of experience, Mohit demonstrated excellent maturity, sincerity and cautiousness while handling this complex tender.He is very methodical and follows the Siemens Processes nicely.
Another key strength of Mohit is his excellent analytical and statistical skills. In the Tender Management profile, there are a lot of comparisons to be made regarding the prices, Competitor information, past tender results, etc. Mohit is very good at arranging all the data and analyzing the data thoroughly that can be used for better pricing. For ex: In one of the tenders of Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL), there was a very good chance of limited competition and Siemens had a chance to earn a good profit. He along with one other team member analyzed all the past data, competitor information and based on that data prepared a very good target price for this tender. Siemens managed to win the project with a difference of 8% from the second-lowest bidder and that too at a good profit.
4. What are the applicant’s chief liabilities and/or weaknesses?
Mohit has an established track record of delivering the results under his belt, which makes him the strong professional that he is today. However, I feel that in some instances he is not able to make a strong network with the tough clients leading him to be dependent on some other senior persons. This lack of networking skills maybe because he lacks understanding of the behavior of the clients and he is also only 3 years experienced in the tender management profile. Networking skill is quite important in the industry in which we work. Sometimes, he is not able to get the important information because of his weak networking skills affecting the tender he is handling.
For ex: In one of the tenders of a client, a big transmission company of India having a big pipeline of upcoming tenders, Siemens was participating in the tender floated by that client to understand the market prices operating in the tenders of this client and to understand the competition as the customer had a huge pipeline in the next few years.
Mohit was given the task to handle this tender. I would say that he did well but somehow due to lack of his experience and lack of understanding regarding the mindset of this tough client couldn’t network well with them. I also feel that strong networking with the client leads to a better understanding of the requirement. We participated in the reverse auction but were at the end of auction 10% higher than the winner. This may be due to less confidence Mohit had in the understanding of the customer requirement as Mohit couldn’t network strongly.
Another thing I would like to discuss here is that Mohit is of a very polite and calm demeanor. He is always soft-spoken and liked by everyone in the team and other stakeholders. But sometimes, due to his polite nature, people take him lightly and for granted. This causes him to face a problem that people don’t support him on time. I feel that he should bring a change in his nature as and when required and demand strongly from the people to get his work done on time.
I have raised these concerns with him in our Employee dialogue in Dec’2018 while commending him on his dedication. He was very responsive and welcoming of my comments and I believe he has internalized this feedback because I have seen some improvement since.
5. How does the applicant interact with others in a team setting? How often did you observe this?
I believe that Mohit effectively collaborates with various stakeholders and support functions. He has to work together with various support functions such as Legal, Finance, Designing, Supply Chain Management, etc. He effectively conducts meetings with the team members and is able to make clear the accountability and ownership of the different tasks amongst various teams. I have observed that he puts in commendable efforts while collaborating and co-ordinating with stakeholders for day to day tasks.
For instance, In one of the tenders of a refinery, there was a lot of ambiguity in the battery limits of the overall scope of work especially the work of the Load Shedding System of the Refinery and the technical specifications of Load Shedding System were very open-ended. But Mohit took full ownership to get the clarity and effectively collaborated with the Siemens Load Shedding system expert with the intention that no required item is missed out and Siemens is also competitive. This perfect collaboration resulted in very good results, we were able to acquire the project of 6’0 Mil Eur.
Among his team-mates, he is always ready to support his other team members. Although, he doesn’t have any reportee but the new team members develop a good bond with him and they approach him for any doubts. Freshers in our team find him very much approachable. He doesn’t shy away from taking the guidance of his senior team members. Everyone in the team likes him for his work ethics.
6. How will graduate education in management help the applicant to realize his/her goals?
Firstly, Mohit doesn’t have global exposure to date and has worked mostly with domestic clients. I feel that in today’s time, having a global exposure is valued a lot. Markets are also getting globalized. So, I feel going to Germany and studying there can help him a lot.
Secondly, As discussed above that Mohit sometimes lacks in Networking skills. He is only 3-4 years old in this business profile. He will definitely learn from experiences and from a formal MBA program. With MBA learning, I feel that he can develop good networking skills. The courses such as Organizational Behavior, Cross -Cultural activities, and discussion, internships, group case studies, Leadership modules, industry visits, workshops, and conferences, etc shall give him ample opportunities to network, understand the perspective of different people and make him more bold and confident.
Thirdly, I strongly believe that having a holistic view is a very important trait to excel an succeed in personal and professional life. Mohit is young and I am confident that he can broaden his horizon of thinking and can develop a quality to think holistically from the MBA course. A number of activities such as Case Studies, Class room discussions, etc can help him a lot.
7. The Admissions Committee would appreciate any statement you may wish to make concerning the applicant’s leadership abilities?
Mohit is working as an Individual Contributor. He is young in the industry. Although Mohit doesn’t have any direct reports but still I strongly believe that Mohit has good leadership skills.
I have seen that whenever a new tender comes, he calls up a meeting with all the support functions and makes clear to everyone regarding his / her deliverables and time schedule. He prepares the division of responsibility to avoid conflicts and keeps on pushing the team members to deliver the best deliverables and to take full ownership of their portion of work.
For example: In one of the tenders of WBSETCL (West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Limited), that tender was our Must Win tender, There was some clause due to which Siemens was unable to participate in the tender. Mohit, as per his habit of having a full-length discussion with support functions at the start of the tender preparation found out from one team member that the issue needs to be discussed immediately with the client. So, Mohit went along with the team member to meet the customer and understand their requirement. Ultimately, the clause was relaxed and Siemens participated in the tender.
Although we lost the tender by just being 0.7% higher than the lowest bidder, Mohit showed good leadership potential through this tender. I think that this tender taught Mohit the initial lessons of Leadership.