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Carnergie Mellon University Tepper | MBA | Adversity Essay

Describe how you have overcome adversity during your journey. What did you learn about yourself and how has that shaped who you are? (Maximum 350-500 words)

Carnergie Mellon University Tepper | MBA | Adversity Essay

When I graduated from the best university in the country, I had a tough time landing my first job. I had studied abroad during my senior year and missed summer internship recruitment, which put me at a disadvantage to my classmates during full-time recruiting. Six months and 30+ rejection letters later, I took a contractor role at UBS in trading room operations. I struggled to see a clear career path forward.

I was responsible for handling transaction settlement for our private clients. With the same, repetitive daily routines, I soon reached the plateau of my growth. Reaching out to my supervisor for advice, I learned that she paved her own way to the head of operations from a team administration position. She encouraged me that many leaders started from a small beachhead and bootstrapped their way to success. Inspired by her words, I committed myself to find ways to accelerate my impact, even if it is beyond the immediate scope of my role.

To begin, I turned to a colleague in the finance department to teach me Excel modelling and macro applications skills. After months of practice, I not only automated my data-entry tasks, but also created programmed dashboards for our entire unit. Impressed with my work, my manager referred me to other teams to help build new tools for operations improvement. Through this work, I connected with managers from multiple departments and gained a breadth of understanding in UBS’s business that very few employees had. The next year, I transferred to contract analyst in the Business Management department, which owned strategic planning of our wealth management business.

My new position allowed me to take the lead in driving various office initiatives, giving me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge across all aspects of UBS’s value chain, strengthen my project management capabilities, and expand my professional network. In a project to upskill our client advisors, the coaching and suggestions I received from investment, product, and marketing divisions helped me develop an end-to-end client advisory playbook that has been successfully deployed across all sales teams and boosted annual client conversion rate by 20%. A year later, I applied for full-time project officer in the APAC core team to drive cross-region digital transformation. Recognizing my contributions in the office, my local managers gave me unanimous support and helped me land this job.

All of us will face setbacks in our career. I overcame one early on, which gave me the grit to take any opportunity, no matter how small, and turn it into something bigger. Because of my journey, and the help from my mentors and friends along the way, I have a deep belief in paying it forward. From coaching junior colleagues at work to hosting a financial education bootcamp for children in poverty, I am always looking out for ways to help others find their path to growth. That is the spirit I will bring to Tepper – to collaborate, support and be inclusive of every classmate I meet – so that we can accelerate our impact as one community, during our two years in Pittsburgh and beyond.

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