You are on page 1of 10

KARAN GUPTA CONSULTING

SOP and Essay Writing Guidelines

1. Plagiarizing information from the Internet and other sources without giving due credit will have your application immediately denied. 2. For MBA students the SOP is an essay titled Describe your short term and long term career goals and how your prior work experience has shaped these goals. Again, the word limit is 800 words. 3. For graduate students the SOP is mandatory and the word limit is 800 words. 4. For Undergraduate students the SOP is an essay titled Describe your hobbies, interests and reasons to study abroad. The word limit is 500 words. 5. Format instructions: Please write your SOP or essay in Microsoft Word (97-2003 versions) and use Arial font 11 of Times New Roman 12. Please justify the paragraphs and write Statement of Purpose on the top of the page. Write your name on the top right hand side. Your name does not have to appear on every page. 6. Please upload your SOP through the KGC Campus Online. 7. Please allow at least 10 working days before your SOP can be returned to you. Your SOP will be returned to you in track change mode. For more information on track changes, please refer to your set of sample documents given to you at the time of enrollment.

44 Mitra Kunj, 4th Floor, 16 Pedder Road, Mumbai 400 026. India. Tel: (022) 2352 6372, 2351 7748 Fax: (022) 2352 6603 Email: kgc@karangupta.com

Required: Describe an impact youve had on an individual, group or organization. How has this experience been valuable to you or others? (500 words) In 2004 the Mumbai-based Western India team of my bank had lost their derivatives sales in-charge. Most of our clients had moved their derivatives business to other banks and our business was badly hit. I was assigned the big responsibility of taking charge of derivatives sales, which was a challenge as it is a responsibility generally given to someone with more experience. I realized that things were really difficult in Mumbai. I decided to focus on two issues. First to make sure our existing clients were satisfied. I met each one of them individually with our Western India Treasury Sales Head. Second, I attempted to understand what exactly had caused the clients to leave and figure out how to restore these relationships which had been built over a period of time. I noticed that there was hardly any communication between my department and the corporate banking team. I also realized that some of my colleagues did not have the required knowledge of derivative products and so had a diffident attitude towards them. We were not meeting the clients requirements because we were not making enough efforts to understand their needs. My first task was to break this no communication barrier between the teams. With the help of the department heads, I succeeded in organizing bi-weekly meetings and joint client calls for the departments. I started educating my colleagues about the various derivative products and their benefits to clients as a superior hedge and to the bank as a revenue generator. My next and most important step was to establish trust and reliability with our old and new clients. I decided to communicate with them on a daily basis and personally meet them at least once a month. I kept them informed about the markets and passed on views about currencies and interest rates and their likely movements, regardless of whether we were getting business from them or not . I kept showing them various new structures as per their exposures. As a result of these efforts, in about year and a half, we have built a big client base. We deal with more than hundred corporations which include some of Indias biggest names. We have got almost 80% of lost relationships back. We have started contributing to more than 50% of the Banks pan India derivative sales as compared to a meager 10% previously. We now have cordial working environment within the organization, between departments. I have realized the importance of team work and how as a good manager I needed to make sure that the different departments worked towards the same goal. I learnt to balance individuals so as to succeed in what I was doing. I figured out that communication is a great tool and being a good listener is very important to being a good leader. On the business front, I learnt that though products could be the same, give or take 5-10 percent, what is important is relationship management.

Describe a personal characteristic or something in your background that will help the Admissions Committee to know you better. I was an above average student throughout school. I learnt swimming at age three, horse riding at six and driving at eight. After high school, I joined Narsee Monjee College which not only gave me an opportunity to excel in academics but also gave me an opportunity to further my extracurricular interests. I was 15 years old and all set to take on the world. At this very critical juncture of my life, I was diagnosed with a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. This would slowly lead to a degeneration of my retina and lead to blindness over a period of time. I could not fathom what was happening to me from being unable to see the blackboard in class to blurring faces to a continuously narrowing field of vision. Initially I faced problems reading and writing and in about four years I lost about 90 percent of my vision. I was shaken up completely and lost confidence. From an extrovert I became a recluse. From an individual who was actively involved in sports and extra curricular activities, I was unable to take part in anything. I was unable to explain to my peers what was happening to me and so was left with only a few friends. The emotional turmoil also affected my studies and my grades dropped significantly. All through this period I got tremendous support from my family, especially my mother. I had two options either to give in to this perceived handicap or just go out and do things my way and do it to the best of my ability. I finally decided to let go of my fears. I gathered all my courage and was determined to give my best and see how things would work out. I decided to find alternatives. After a lot of research, I discovered a software which converts text to speech and another which scans and convert text books into Word documents. I became independent on the computer. Things started changing. I scored much higher than my grades in the previous four years. I decided to take life head on and have never looked back. At every stage of my career, I have met with skepticism and have had to prove my competence. However, I have complete faith in my abilities and have gone on undeterred. After my PGDBA, on the basis of my CV, I was short listed by every company I applied to. However, as soon as they discovered my impairment, they did not even interview me. In fact, I was told by the head of my college that I might not get a job through campus recruitments. I didnt let it affect me. I kept trying till I was picked for one of the most coveted jobs on offer on campus and have been very successful. In this five year phase, in which I went through a complete change, I have matured and emerged a much better and stronger person. I have discovered my innate strengths and my self confidence and sense of humor have returned.

Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from Wharton to help you achieve these goals and why now? (1,000 words) I took up a Bachelors degree in Commerce and was in the top two percentile of my university. Upon graduation I had an option of joining my fathers flourishing Real Estate business, but I wanted to pursue my passion for finance. My first job with a small investment firm gave me the exposure to equity research and company analysis. After a years work experience I felt the need for formal qualification in order to make an impact in financial markets. This made me go on to pursue a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. At NMIMS I was ranked second in the program and won the Best Student Award for consistent exemplary performance in academics and extracurricular activities. I was selected through a campus interview for the job of a Dealer (Derivatives) with ING Vysya Bank (a subsidiary of ING N.V.) at their Head Office in Bangalore. In a span of two and a half years with ING Vysya Bank, I have successfully performed various roles. In the first year of my job, I was a trader of Indian Rupee based Interest Rate Swaps and also structured derivative products and priced them for the sales teams. This gave me a sound grounding in the fundamentals of the interest rate and currency markets in India and I acquired knowledge of the various derivative instruments traded in the Indian markets. For the last year and a half I have been in charge of the Western India derivatives sales team. At one point, due to market dynamics, the Bank was losing business in Mumbai, the most competitive region in India. Taking into account my performance and acknowledging my capabilities, only a year into my job, the Treasury Head gave me the responsibility of handling the situation. I have been successful in getting back almost all our lost relationships as well as in extending our business to more than 50 new clients. To my credit, our bank has won some of the biggest accounts in the country. My interaction with clients and the understanding of their needs has given me an exposure to the working of many businesses and a firm grasp over the Indian derivatives market. My prior work experience has helped me understand that there are more miles to go before I realize my ultimate goal of working as a successful fund manager with a leading hedge fund. Prior to this I would want to work on Wall Street with one of the big investment banks as I feel this is the stepping stone towards my ultimate goal. Since the financial markets are globally so integrated and interdependent, I believe that an international acumen is the key to success. I need to further my understanding of the world economy and acquire a deeper analytical ability of the economic factors affecting the global markets. I believe that there is one thing which will lead me closer to achieving this and that is an MBA from Wharton. The instruments traded in the Indian financial markets are limited to the basic vanilla and a few exotics! Studying at Wharton will allow me to gain knowledge of the complete array of instruments and make me competent to model innovative products.

The Wharton MBA will not only provide me a platform to further my career aspirations but also give me an overall understanding of all aspects of business from a global perspective - a must in any role in an organization in todays world. I will have the opportunity to work in multi-cultural teams of people in my Learning Team and my Cohort and this will allow me to network with talented individuals from varied backgrounds and make friends for life. I will be able to hone my leadership skills - a very important quality required professionally as well as personally at every stage of life; both within class through courses and outside class through the Experiential Learning & Leadership ventures. The faculty, ambience and success stories spawned by Wharton make it an ideal place for a student like me. My search has revealed that Wharton has a world-class curriculum. Its faculty members bring a strong blend of research and teaching and are known to be pioneers in their field. I am looking for the international brand value that Wharton stands for. I am particularly enthused about the spectrum of courses offered at Wharton, many of which I studied either in limited detail or not at all in my previous education. Courses such as Financial Derivatives, International Financial Markets, Funding Investments and Financial Engineering have already stimulated my intellectual juices. I am also excited about the Sales and Trading Club at Wharton which is the best in the country. In my interaction with some of its officers I learnt about the programs it organizes, such as the Panels by Sales and Trading Professionals, Days on The Job and the mentoring program. The exposure the club offers to its members is phenomenal. I am looking forward to being an active member of the Club in the future and contributing to and learning from others who share my goals. Another very important aspect of Wharton is that it is a student driven community. Students are a major driver of its various programs and are responsible for initiating many new things and contributing to the entire Wharton experience. Through the numerous clubs at Wharton, they also are active in many social, cultural and community programs of society at large. This blends perfectly with my core value of holistic living. Finally, I feel that I have had the opportunity to interact and work with some of the best brains in India and now I am looking forward to an opportunity to work with some of the best brains in the world. I have reached a certain orbit in my life from where I want to go higher and believe that an MBA from Wharton will be the perfect impetus that will propel me towards it.

Describe a situation where your values, ethics, or morals were challenged. How did you handle the situation? I received a query through our Sales Team, for a complicated derivative structure from a big IT corporation, from whom my bank had been trying to get business for three months. I gave our quote and finally managed to satisfy the clients requirement. It was decided that we would close the deal the next working day. It was a big moment for all of us as it was a major breakthrough. The next day, I received another email from the client and reworked the price. I realized that there was an error in the clients mail and the structure was incomplete. As a result of this error, the Bank would get much higher profits as compared to what we were to get on the previous days structure. Our Sales team told me that since the new structure was received directly from the client it had to be correct. I was advised to price it and close the deal. I was uncomfortable with this approach. I felt that the client had clearly made an error and that we needed to inform them. Being a trader, I didnt communicate directly with clients until I was asked to do so by the sales team. So I explained the whole situation to my supervisor. He spoke to my colleague in Sales, who insisted we didnt need to go back to the client. Moreover, she didnt see a problem as we were making higher profits. Being my senior at the Bank, she was able to successfully convince my supervisor. But I was not convinced. On the one hand I was bound by the policies of my bank and the loyalty to my supervisor. On the other hand I was sure that there was an oversight on the part of the client and it was unethical for me to knowingly close the deal without informing him once. I thought of the consequences of doing either, thoughts of annoying my supervisor and having a strained relationship with him made me anxious. Finally I decided I could not do something that went against my conscience. I told my supervisor that I was going to reply to the clients email, asking them whether the change was intentional or an error. I went ahead and mailed the client despite the reluctance of my supervisor and other colleagues. I must confess I was nervous about going against what I was told to do. However, in a short while, the Sales Team informed us that the client had called to say that he had indeed made a mistake. The deal went off very well and since then we have built a fantastic relationship with that client. My colleague in Sales realized later that she was wrong and my boss sent me an email appreciating my decision. This incident strengthens my belief that ethics and moral values cannot and should not be compromised under any circumstance. However, I learned that being assertive without being aggressive helps others to see your point of view.

What are your short-term and long- post MBA goals? How would Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Recommended word limit: 1000) I have always nurtured a deep desire to start a new venture on my own and make it succeed. This urge could be attributed to a set of eclectic factors related to my upbringing. I come from community of marwaris, a small community that has given several large business houses to India and is renowned for its entrepreneurial skills. The success-stories of such business leaders, narrated by my parents when I was a child, left a lasting impression on my mind and sowed a deep desire to walk the same path as them. This desire got further reinforced when I, at the age of twelve, saw my mother starting a manufacturing enterprise on her own and grew up watching her making a success out of the venture. Witnessing her cruising through numerous hurdles and challenges in the initial days of the venture and savoring the success as the business flourished made me more determined to become an entrepreneur myself. The ambition to start a venture required clarity of vision in terms of identifying the domain wherein my competitive strength lies. The clarity developed as I moved ahead in my academic journey and was further crystallized as I progressed in my professional life. Scoring the highest marks ever in the finance department in my school, securing admission in the college considered best in India for undergraduate finance and completing the Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) degree with flying colors gave me reason to believe that I could excel in finance. The notion was further strengthened when the company where I worked part time, in recognition of my excellent performance, offered me a full time role in the Finance & Accounts department. It was during my summer internship at Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (L&T) that I was introduced to the concepts of riskmanagement and financial derivatives. The concepts and scope of their application fascinated me and I accepted the offer from L&T to work in Corporate Treasury after completing my education from Indian Institute of Management (IIM)Indore. Working L&Ts treasury, which is one of the biggest and most active treasuries amidst the Indian corporate sector, allowed me to come closer to identifying my entrepreneurial field. In L&T, I got first hand experience of identifying and quantifying commodity price risk, devising risk-management mechanism and implementing and running the same for an organization having USD 3 billion as turnover with an employee strength exceeding 15000. The project, to an extent, was entrepreneurial in nature and its success gives me reason to believe that with proper preparation and training I am capable of successfully establishing a firm providing risk-management solutions to the corporate sector. My long-term objective is to make the firm emerge as a leader in this field and establish its footprints across industry sectors and continents. My short term career objective is to further my knowledge and gain experience of risk-management practices and instruments in other domains like foreign exchange and interest rates by working in multinational banks. One must not rest on ones accomplishments rather build on them to scale greater heights. It is this thought that doesnt allow me to develop inertia and propels me towards developing competencies, which in turn would help me realize my long-held dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Realizing the dream requires that I develop understanding of different facets of entrepreneurship like aspects related to setting up and sustaining the venture, managing & facilitating transformation from person-based enterprise to process-driven organization etc. My profile at L&T requires me to deal with people of different nationalities (Australia, UK, China, Japan and Singapore) and I could sense differences in the manner people of different cultures behave and conduct business. I strongly believe that any trans-continental entrepreneur to be successful would require a deep sense of awareness of different cultures. Furthering my knowledge in my chosen field is also a pre-requisite for attaining the objective. There exists a strong fit between what I seek and the value proposition offered by Columbia Graduate School of Business (GSB). Columbia GSBs strong emphasis on entrepreurship complimented by the schools undisputable reputation as one of the leading learning-centers for finance makes it the school of choice for those who are interested in starting entrepreneurial

ventures in finance-related fields. I believe that Columbia GSBs focus on providing both conceptual inputs and hands on experience in entrepreneurship through academic courses, programs and students clubs would allow trial basis owing to the products nature (eatable). To address this problem, I requested Quality Testing & Marking Laboratory (QTML) to test the quality of spice-powders and issue a certificate specifying the same. QTML, being a government laboratory, did the testing at subsidized rates and the certification issued by QTML is approved under AGMARK, the pan-India food products related quality assurance mark. Getting this certification made retailing the spice-powders easier and after the first few months the monthly production started getting sold promptly. I also did the groundwork for future registration of the SHG under Vindhya Valley Scheme, a joint marketing effort by public and private sector, which provides emerging small enterprises a pan-Madhya Pradesh retailing network. The experience of establishing an enterprise and bringing it to self-sustaining mode was extremely satisfying. But more important and rewarding was the feeling of having been able to positively impact the lives of so many people.

If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do? (Recommended word limit: 250) I would love to spend a day at my alma mater IIM-Indore, which holds a special place in my heart because of the role it played in sculpting me into not only a better professional but also a better human being. My day would begin with a meeting with SWAC (official students body) steering committee, of which I used to be a member. It would help me update myself about new specialinterest clubs being patronized by SWAC. Together, we would explore the possibilities of getting Larsen & Toubros sponsorship for activities of Logistics & Operations Club. I would schedule an appointment with members of Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) to get familiarized with their new initiatives; Id also be interested in knowing how the initiatives taken by AAC of our batch (international exchange programs and new subjects) have unfolded. I have always enjoyed helping freshmen in finance-related subjects by taking informal sessions and would get something similar organized during my visit. Id meet organizing committee of Invested Interest, a treasury-operations simulation conceptualized and developed by me for institutes annual festival Iris, to know how it is faring in terms of corporate sponsorship. Finally, this visit would give me the opportunity to meet professors, who have played a crucial part in shaping me.

In discussing Columbia Business School, Dwan R Glenn Hubbard remarked, We have established the mindset that entrepreneurship is about everything you do. Please discuss a time in your own life when you have identified and captured an opportunity. (Word limit: 500) In 2003, I came in touch with Indore Diocese Social Service Society (IDSSS), a non-government organization, which works with a large number of Self Help Groups (SHGs). SHGs are entrepreneurial groups wherein financially weak members of the society come together to start small ventures. Through IDSSS, I came to know about the newly formed Jay Ambe Bhavani. The SHG had twenty uneducated women as its members, who had contributed twenty thousand Indian rupees ($450) towards seed-capital and were trying to identify a feasible income generating activity. I decided to help the group as by doing so, I would not only contribute towards making a difference to the lives of those twenty women but also get an opportunity to act like an entrepreneur. The first stage was to decide the business activity, which would be most feasible for the SHG. On the basis of discussions, we reached a consensus that the group would produce and market spice-powders. The factors that acted as major drivers for the decision were expertise of members in the domain (as they all had been making spice-powders for domestic usage) and easy availability of raw materials (spices) in the city itself. On the basis of my interaction with commercial spice-powder producers, I realized that capitalbase of the SHG is too undersized to buy equipments for spice-powder production facility. I tried to raise loans from commercial banks for the group but efforts went in vain as the banks persisted on collateral security against the loans. The funds-related problem was solved when National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, a government-sponsored financial institution, agreed to give a loan for equipments with lien over them. The funding was available but we still needed to work on marketability of our product. We placed samples of our spice-powders with retailers but the results were not very encouraging as the consumers were skeptical about the quality of unbranded spice-powders produced by a small SHG and were not very willing to use the product on me to develop a wholesome and comprehensive understanding of entrepreneurship as a concept and process. Your course Introduction to Venturing would help me develop competencies required to launch a successful new venture. Launching New Ventures and Entrepreneurial Finance would make my approach towards establishing the new venture more informed, structured and systematic. Entrepreneurial Selling would allow me to recognize and build-up marketing skills requisite for an entrepreneur & Managing Growth would prepare me to steer my venture through different stages of growth in a smooth manner. Participation in programs like Eugene Lang Fund, Sounding Board and Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization would facilitate further refinement in my entrepreneurial plans. Intense interaction with a culturally diverse student populace would give me the incredible opportunity to enhance my consciousness of different cultures and their respective peculiarities. The schools location and strong business linkages would allow me to enrich myself with business maestros experience in risk management and the related fields. Last but not the least, learning from renowned faculty amidst a group of high potential individuals would expand my capabilities and allow me to explore the possibility of sharing my dream with like-minded individuals. I consider the MBA at Columbia GSB as an indispensable ingredient in my recipe for success.