The following essay was submitted to the Harvard MBA program by our client. The client was accepted to the program.
Four years of intense training led to this moment, and I knew what to do without thinking. As squad commander in the elite Air Force Commando Unit, I served my country during a war. I received notice that a platoon of 50 soldiers was under heavy attack, and my squad had to save them.
I had ten minutes to process the situation, devise a plan, assign tasks, communicate status to superiors, and make life-and-death decisions. We had exactly sixty seconds to execute the mission with complete precision. Bullets sailing overhead, my mind was completely focused on leading my brave men and saving the trapped soldiers.
I felt the full weight of the situation only after all soldiers were safe and able to return home to their families.
As a squad leader for three years, I often had to get my men out of dangerous situations. Planning a mission to save so many lives during wartime made this experience the most substantial in my military service.
Flying to Microsoft Headquarters, I couldn’t believe my luck! Selected as lead developer on the Microsoft Unified Communications Sync Server project, I convinced my manager to permit me to initiate collaboration with our American counterparts and persuaded a senior colleague in Washington that working with us would benefit his product.
When I first got the assignment, I knew that working with Americans could add significant insight to our development. A history of failed collaborations by senior marketing managers made my managers reluctant to approve the plan of a junior engineer like me. Undeterred, I reached across two continents and ten Microsoft ranks and convinced a senior software architect in Redmond that working with us would develop their product while stabilizing ours. Everyone finally agreed, and I went to lead the collaboration in December 2007.
In Redmond, I established relationships transcending this project, aligning both teams’ development processes and paving the way for future joint ventures.
This accomplishment gave me international experience and exposure to senior colleagues at an early stage in my career. That the partnership benefited both people and products makes it my most substantial contribution in a professional situation.
Validating My Vision
Leading a software development team to overcome obstacles and build a floral service website is an accomplishment that confirmed that creating state-of-the-art consumer products was what I wanted to do with my life.
After a month of work on our final computer science project at the University, we discovered we were going in the wrong direction. We were frustrated, but nothing gets me going like a challenge. I had a plan, and I knew I had to lead by example to motivate the group. I was always the first one in the lab and never the first to leave. I constantly improved my own task, the graphical user interface, demonstrating that I required the same commitment from myself I asked of them. Each time we met, I focused on one of the guys with a smile on his face and leveraged the opportunity by making him an ally to help me get the others motivated. I even stressed the fact that this project gave us experience with new technology that would be very beneficial in upcoming job interviews.
My team chose me to present the final project. We got a perfect score, but I received something even more substantial: a vision of my professional future.