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My name is ————-

I started writing this essay on a piece of paper, but that’s exactly what I’m not.

Let me introduce myself properly.

I am my parents’ child.

My parents are a driving force in my ambition to make this world a better place. My dream of pioneering my own Ed-Tech start-up first began at my kitchen table, where my parents – an educational strategist and a high-tech executive – would share stories about their work.

My dad, a farmer turned president of a $2B market cap tech company, showed me that determination succeeds in any environment, from the fields to the boardroom. My mom, an education innovator and social justice advocate impressed upon me the importance of proper and equal education for all. My parents showed me that a profession is more than advancing just yourself or your family – it’s about advancing society.

I am determined to reach and exceed my parents’ achievements, in my own way, by combining the passions born from my life’s biggest influences – education, technology, and management.

I’m driven by the desire to use technology and open source principles to improve education in remote and rural areas around the world.

I am a global citizen.

Just before I entered first grade, my father was tapped by a former army commander to work in high tech in Boston. My view morphed from the rolling hills of our town to skyscrapers, the songs of birds replaced by honking taxis.

Two days after arriving in America, I found myself in a public classroom, without a single friend or a word of English to my name.

Feeling embarrassed and confused in a class led me to spend my afternoons memorizing the ABCs and scanning books in English. I forced my parents to give me English lessons every night when they returned home from work. After a year, I felt completely at home, and I even mentored new foreign arrivals, preparing them for what to expect at school and helping them to practice English.

We moved back to my town after six years in Boston, but the experience abroad was foundational. Rooting for the Celtics became as much a part of my anatomy as Brazilian asado – Boston added another layer to my identity.

Acclimating to a foreign culture at such a young age opened me in ways that have been essential to my personal and professional growth. Long afternoons of learning made me an independent learner – a skill I use often at work today, mastering new programming languages and conducting in-depth research at my employer’s innovation center.

Overcoming my language barrier at a young age taught me to be patient, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and instilled the value of mentorship. These insights helped me to become a highly cooperative person whom others feel they can trust.

I am a leader.

I first learned to lead as captain of my high school basketball team, leading my team to a national championship against all odds. We had less talent, less experienced, and we were (on average) 4 centimeters shorter than our opponents. In the end, our teamwork and friendship prevailed. After winning the championship, I was invited to scrimmage with the national team. I insisted they allow my entire team to come.

Becoming national champions showed me the value of persistence and never underestimating your own abilities or the abilities of your team. This was especially instructive when serving as a paratrooper; I suffered a serious back injury from long treks with heavy equipment. My commanders presented me with two options: take a desk job, or sign an extra year beyond my mandatory service to attend Officers’ School and afterward lead an elite unit for special operations and technology development. Determined to make the most of my service in spite of my injury, I chose the latter.

Just like the basketball team, I led, my first project started as something of a lost cause: I was handed responsibility for developing a $2.8M thermal tracking device alongside a world-leading military contractor. The project was over a year behind schedule, manned by an exhausted, frustrated team.

I never doubted that we would reach the ambitious 8-month goal the army had set. I created a comprehensive Gantt to meet development, finance, logistics, and HR benchmarks. I worked hard toward creating cohesion between the army and civilian team members.

When additional product features required more capital to develop, I used my nights off to create marketing campaigns that I pitched to higher-ranking officers – to countless colonels and even a brigadier general. I solicited private donations from dozens of international donors, tailoring each presentation to their cultural preferences and priorities.  I raised $1M in the capital, we met our deadline, and our unit became the go-to unit for product development and for special tech operations. After the release of the thermal tracking device, I led 7 additional projects with budgets totaling $4M.

I believe that Ed-Tech is the future.  

Growing up in an immigrant community, I developed a close understanding of what it meant to live in a poor, remote part of a country. Teaching at-risk teenagers and elementary school orphans in Thailand brought meaning to my mother’s words, “Education is the distance between have and have-not.” Technology is the only way to shorten this distance.

I intend to leverage my technological skills, experience as an educator, and the business acumen I’ll acquire at Harvard to create Ed-Tech products to increase access to education through low-cost applications based on collaborative knowledge sharing and big data analytics.

My tech achievements thus far give me the confidence that I am ready to bring my own products to the public.

I developed a start-up company, an online platform for professional development and recruiting. I drew capital for the entire project with nothing more than belief in my idea and very convincing PowerPoint presentations. Today, My company has thousands of users and is the main professional development platform for several multi-million-dollar tech firms.

Global change begins from local change, and my country is a fertile testing ground. After my MBA, and hopefully following success as a product manager with an Ed-Tech firm, I intend to pilot my own projects in my country’s periphery, targeting underserved populations.

Harvard is my calling.

More than being located in my beloved childhood hometown, Harvard Business School is the place that piqued my interest in management sciences. I had the opportunity to accompany my dad to HBS courses while he was studying in the Advanced Manager’s Program. Sitting in the AMP courses ignited my interest in case studies (I ended up reading every study in my father’s folder!), and I enjoyed in-depth discussions with professors like Richard Vietor and Guhan Subramanian. I am fortunate to be able to continue my interaction with HBS through reading articles and case studies on the IBM learning portal.

Harvard is the quintessential learning experience. Through innovations in EdTech, I believe the Harvard standard can become a worldwide education standard.

I’m an adventurer, a risk-taker, a challenge seeker. I’m an educator, a leader, an entrepreneur, and a social innovator.

I’m not just my past, I am my future; and I’m about to embark on a new chapter of my life, with you, at Harvard.

Beyond the achievements written in my CV, I would like you to know more about who I am through three important lessons I have learned. The first lesson I learned from my parents, the second from my soldiers, and the last lesson I learned from my comrades.

From my parents, I learned the importance of dedication to my goals. I am the eldest of five siblings, and until I reached junior high all five of us slept together in the same room. Even with limited financial resources, our parents promoted personal development and insisted we all learn to play an instrument and master at least one sport: I played piano and practiced judo. Music and sports taught us to set our goals and to keep improving in order to achieve them. As a result, I grew up to be very mission-driven: quickly analyzing the main factors involved in reaching a personal goal and aligning them around the objective. With the ability to clearly visualize the goals of my organization or the needs of my community, I am able to take initiative, identify opportunities and drive everyone involved towards achieving them.

As a graduate of the Defense Force’s technological leadership program, I saw the need for combat officers with technological expertise. Therefore, although most of my program classmates pursued roles as developers or engineers, I elected to fill a demanding role in a field unit, where I could contribute my knowledge and understand first-hand the technological needs of our fighting forces. I saw my opportunity to make an impact as a combat officer in a highly technological and elite operational unit of the Artillery Corps.

From my soldiers, I learned that in order to be an effective leader, I need to listen to my subordinates and constantly work to improve them and myself. Serving as a platoon commander I made it a practice to have weekly personal conversations with each of my subordinate commanders during which each of us would provide candid and constructive feedback to the other. Thus, I was able to achieve great trust through and use their feedback to improve as a commander. I believe these conversations created a winning team, in which my subordinates flourished. Most of them were promoted to platoon sergeant.

As a platoon commander, I was concerned that the training we received fell short of meeting operational requirements on the field. When I attributed this in part to inadequate simulator time during officers’ training, I convinced my superiors to assign me to command the officers’ course in order to make sure that future officers would be qualified to face the challenges they were about to encounter. Moreover, my experience in music, where the independent practice was a key to improvement, inspired me to include more independent practice in the training plan, nearly doubling simulator time without overtaxing the instructors. My efforts were acknowledged when I was rewarded the ‘Officers Excellence Award’ by the unit commander for my contribution as the officers’ course commander.

Finally, I discovered through my military comrades what I want to do with my life and career. As a commander, I had the privilege of working with many amazing people, but I also saw too many cases where people with tremendous talent were blocked from fulfilling their potential due to socio-economic circumstances. This seems to be a particularly serious problem in my country, which was ranked as the fourth most unequal society among OECD countries. I met one soldier who finished high school without taking his final matriculation exams in math because he had to work to support his family. I helped prepare him for the exams, which he completed with excellent grades, and he helped me to understand the challenges so many people face.

Inspired by these soldiers, I began to volunteer for the Movement for the Quality of Governance, an organization boasting 17,000 members that promote increased moral standards in the public service and politics in my country. Researching market aspects that affect equal opportunities has helped me understand that what my country needs most is the creation of opportunities.

Local startups have seen many successes during the last decade. However, a very large portion of our society is unable to take part of that phenomenon, as many successful startups are sold without creating sustainable jobs in the country. Thus, innovation in my country translates into big wealth for the few most talented but has little effect on the lives of the majority of the middle class.

In the long run, I envision myself starting and managing a sustainable, international business in the field of automated transportation. I am passionate about extending economic opportunities to populations who need it most, and I expect the field of automated transportation to have a great impact by spreading affordable transportation and creating new job opportunities for workers around the globe and in my country.

In order to lead in an ever-changing world, my business would have to predict and meet global demands, engage in continuous innovation, and incorporate the finest management practices. I need an HBS MBA to improve my expertise in these three areas. As a post-MBA step towards my goal, I intend to lead the efforts towards self-driving vehicles in a global corpora, where I will contribute a multidisciplinary view that merges technological and business knowledge, while I prepare to start my own business in the field.

At HBS I will take advantage of the many opportunities offered such as the ‘FIELD Global Immersion’, where I will be able to study relevant global topics first-hand. I am especially interested in studying the unique transportation and economic needs of emerging markets such as India or Brazil, which would affect the future demand for automated transportation and where automated transportation can serve as a much-needed engine of progress. I have the necessary technical and leadership background to be this kind of leader, and an HBS MBA will bring me one giant step closer to achieving it.

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am a product of the experiences I have had, people I have met, and adventures I have embarked on. All of these factors combined have been the driving force behind me pursuing my dream.

Growing up I was surrounded by sexism and discrimination as part of my daily life, as they are ingrained in society there. Surrounded by such an environment has always affected me, especially being exposed to stories of sexual violence and femicides. To contextualize the seriousness of the situation, eleven women are killed daily because of their gender; every 2.3 minutes, a woman or girl is raped, and 59.4% of women have suffered violence within their last relationship. I was 20 years old when I came across these statistics and promised myself that I would dedicate my life to helping reduce gender violence within my own country.

Due to my capacities and context, I felt passionate about promoting gender equality in places within my reach, and therefore started volunteering in schools that provided education to girls in marginalized communities. Within this framework, I met a ten-year-old girl who had witnessed gender violence within her home during childhood. She shared with me her desire to escape the cycle of domestic violence and her hopes to have a better education and more opportunities than her mother had.

As soon as I started working, I used my monthly salary to support her studies and help provide a more secure environment for her and her mother. It brings me enormous joy and fulfillment to say that today she is studying at one of the top universities with a 100% scholarship, and her mom has become financially independent to leave behind an abusive husband. To me, she represents only the beginning.

After joining my family business, I knew I could go a step further; I made it my mission for the company to take a stand against gender violence and provide the necessary support to victims.

Eager to ensure a significant long-lasting impact, I look forward to when I will take over as company CEO and further my social footprint by empowering female employees and providing them with the necessary tools to be financially independent so they can escape gender violence within their homes. Ultimately, I hope that my family company will be the blueprint for other companies to follow by granting equal employment opportunity to millions of women so they can live free of gender injustice.

USC Marshall´s program can help me achieve my life and career goal. Through the “Graduate Women in Business,” I can collaborate with my peers to develop my path of furthering my career within the family business. I aspire to set the example of how empowering women can cause a positive ripple effect within the company and the different communities in which we operate. I´m excited to share my story with Marshall´s community and see how being part of a community based on collaboration can help me reduce gender violence within my country.

Thinking about my own education and how far it has brought me, I have always been drawn to volunteering activities that impact girl-child education. In doing so, I’ve consistently walked away with my own valuable lessons.

A few years back, I learned that 30% of girls in my country don’t attend school when menstruating, unable to afford sanitary products. Dismayed, I convinced my company to donate menstrual cups and volunteered to teach underprivileged girls how to use them. I subsequently realised there was a social stigma around this method that needed to be overcome. Meeting with the girls regularly, I managed to convince the majority to consider this solution. This was a profound educational experience for me, improving my ability to connect with and relate to people from different backgrounds.

In another initiative, I conducted a community coding course for underprivileged high school girls. Seeing how they approached the work opened my eyes to their user experience. I learned that people approach technology with the mindset and perspective born of the environment in which they were raised. This was a pivotal moment for me, and I realized that if I want to create products that truly serve people’s needs, I must take the time and effort to understand the end-users.

These experiences have motivated me to stay engaged in my community. I would love to join the Social Impact OBN and the Africa Business Alliance at Oxford SBS to better understand how to initiate change and create an impact across my continent.

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.”  André  Gide (1869-1951)

A failed family business of logistics forced my father to take a trucker’s job. Assisting my father in my childhood exposed me to the field of logistics from a very young age. I realized that the world’s greatest advancements and innovations mean nothing if products cannot reach consumers due to a broken supply chain. This realization made me passionate about the supply chain and logistics industry.

As an adult, I wanted to discover new lands and new opportunities. As André Gide professed, I did leave the shore when I joined Merchant Navy. My sailor role aligned perfectly with my desire to gain supply chain experience on a larger scale. Thanks to my prior experience since childhood, operations skills came naturally to me, and I achieved promotions and responsibility faster than usual.

Collaborating with top management on-board, saving failing management or a ship from sinking and saving catastrophic damages, or developing leadership and abilities of others, I realized a true sense of a leader’s impact to change the world around. Presently, I lead a 25-person crew to carry out operations for over $2bln worth of oil & gas on a single ship. Further, I intend to leverage my experience and lead an organization of hundreds of such ships to create an even more meaningful impact by innovating corporate social responsibilities issues in shipping such as clean energy, seafarers violation and criminalization.

Harvard U

Harvard University

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