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Rotterdam Erasmus Essay 1: How do you see your career developing and how will this programme help you achieve your goals?
My career has seen a rapid advancement to the position of CFO of XX, a real estate development company and its group companies. In my position I reported directly to senior management and was responsible for coordinating the activity of the Financial Department. In this role I had to collaborate with various departments within the company as well as with numerous external entities like consulting firms. I was in charge of finance for the consisting of 15 Romanian and Austrian companies and 10 offshore companies.
The biggest project to date that I have coordinated and administrated was the "XX" project, an office building of 8.300 sqm, situated in the financial center or Romania's capital city.
Following these experiences, I have come to believe that at this juncture in my career a management education will help me integrate all the skills I have previously acquired into a coherent framework.
After finishing the MBA, in the short term, I see myself either taking up a management position in a large real estate company in Europe, focusing mainly on development projects, or joining a private equity fund that is particularly focused on real estate.
In the long term I would like to leverage both my personal and professional skills and build upon my management skill sets gained in Rotterdam and transition myself into an entrepreneur. I do believe that this MBA program will help accelerate my career path and more importantly evolve me as a global manager of repute.
I have come to realize that all too often I had to rely on my creativity rather than previously tested management frameworks and at times this has put a considerable burden on my shoulders. As an example I could mention that I have created and implemented a managerial tool for preparing and executing the budget as well as a tool that was suitable for illustrating and following the investment activities. I am convinced that in order for me to evolve towards becoming a good management professional I will need the skill sets provided by a management degree such as the one offered at Rotterdam School of Management.
I think that the cross-industry and cross-functional perspective as well as the pan geographic perspective that I will gain from my peers will be invaluable. I am particularly enthusiastic about the alumni network that RSM has created over the years. It would be a great opportunity to interact and learn from alumni spread across the globe and also to share and get to know various market and industry perspectives from them. I am specifically interested to interact with alumni and corporate professionals from the Benelux region as I am looking to building a career in this region going forward.
I am also looking forward to actively participate in the finance, consulting and real estate clubs at RSM. Connecting with big corporations and top management professionals is an important way of learning and interacting with the industry leaders.
I believe that RSM will be an inflection point in my life both professionally and personally.
Rotterdam Erasmus Essay 2: Describe your favorite hobby, pastime or sport and explain how it reflects your personality.
I believe that a right balance between work and physical fitness is an essential part of my life. I practice swimming three times a week on regular basis and I go mountain climbing once a year with a close group of friends. I am a strong advocate of the fact that sport is a very good starting point where one can develop important personal traits like leadership, commitment, consistency and mutual trust. Sports also help me rejuvenate my energy and bring me the needed vigor and vitality.
I am convinced that in order to be able to help others and also be an active part of a team, either in business or in life, first I have to constantly improve my performance and set high standards of excellence to myself. I am following this belief through my swimming practice where I am constantly researching for new methods to improve my style and setting time limits to improve my speed and strength.
Physical fitness helps me tackle the challenges of mountain climbing. In time I have managed to bring together a team of four mountaineers and in a couple of years we set our goal to tackle the highest mountain peak in Romania: Moldoveanu, with a height of 2544 meters. Even though we were all pursuing the same goal we were all quite different in the manner of our communication, attitude and behavior. Our team did not have an assigned leader. We were all on the same level and we were tackling this task for the first time. However, a great thing happened. Every one of us assumed leadership during various parts of the journey, according to his skills and endurance level. My role stood out especially at the beginning of the trip when the mountain seemed much stronger than us and set to overcome us. We were just beginning to climb and the road ahead seemed endless. I led the way and set the pace, so that in the second day, when keeping the same rhythm, the climb seemed more approachable.
The success of the team has been the outcome of the efficient employment of each of its member’s qualities in order to understand, motivate and guide the others. I had my biggest achievement when we reached the peak and we could enjoy the view from the top of the country.
This hobby clearly reflects my personality in many different ways. It set a clear goal to reach and a challenge to overcome. I have earned valuable experiences in how to coordinate teams in critical situations and helped me to advance my ability to identify critical facts and prioritize tasks accordingly. However, I realized that one particularly difficult and complex task required me to learn how to be a team player and also be a part of the team when someone else’s experience was greater. This experience taught me both facets of being a team player - ready to lead and ready to be led.
Rotterdam Erasmus Essay 3 : Describe the most difficult decision you have made and its personal effect on you.
The “XX” office building is one of the most important achievements of my company. We managed to provide a high quality office building to clients in a time of economic downfall and uncertainty.
A clear objective during the construction phase was to strictly follow the construction schedule in order to keep in sync with the conditions laid out in the prelease agreements signed with our tenants.
Six months after the start of the project, the negative effects of the global financial crisis reshaped the Romanian real estate market. Considering the business dynamics and market permeability, my new objective was to rationalize the cost structure of our office-building project so that the value for the investing parties would not diminish considerably. Keeping in mind that our schedule for the construction was going in line with the drawdowns from the loan facility, there was a limited time frame in which I could readjust the cost and also improve the viability of the project.
As the representative of the company I had to strengthen business relationships with all key partners such as law firms, financial institutions construction advisors and also important one’s like the bank and general constructor.
I tried to get all the parties to agree to the new conditions. Most of them were reluctant to rationalize costs. Even the bank that fully understood the economic ground realities failed to heed our request. Time was running out and quick turnaround on this was to be made in terms of a decision.
I consulted with the investing partners explaining that only two possible outcomes existed. One was to adapt to the new market realities and the other was to declare the project as unviable. I notified the bank that considering the new economic conditions the project was no longer efficient and that I was prepared to declare bankruptcy if the bank did not agree to reconsider it’s conditions. I also notified them that we were negotiating with all the other key partners involved and that everyone expressed their desire to move forward, but under a set of new, reevaluated conditions.
The step of assuming the possibility of failure proved to be the most difficult. Although we finally managed to reach a common understanding with the bank and key partners, the construction schedule of our project slipped by three weeks. The delay was a necessary evil in order to keep the project viable.
I have learned that in any project I must always look for ways to constantly keep costs under control, look for red flags, and build an inherent risk mitigation plan while at the same time be uncompromising on quality.
On a personal level an important lesson learnt in this process was to develop multiple backup plans in order to support the business if one’s of the strategies fails. I have also learned that it takes a clear view of the task at hand, great courage, and determination to adopt a drastic course of action and sustain it in front of the investing partners.
Rotterdam Erasmus Essay 4 : Please feel free to supply any additional information that you believe would be helpful to the Admissions Committee in making the final decision on your application (optional).
Compared to my peers and friends I have enjoyed an accelerated career path. Because of the pace at which things have unraveled I have had the opportunity to interact with people from across levels in the organization. At the MBA program I can bring different perspectives to the same issue. I can talk about how a particular issue will be perceived at the lower part of the organization and how the management would perceive it.
I have worked with people from different functions in my organization. I have a good view on different aspects of business and I believe these experiences can bring value to the classroom and case study discussions.
I have worked with teams outside my organization and outside my country of residence. I have collaborated with PWC, KPMG and XX Consultants LTD on matters concerning the creation of offshore structures to improve our fiscal efficiency. I have learned about double treaty agreements between Romania and other countries. I became aware of the financial flow between national and non-national companies. These experiences will allow me to share my breadth of experience regarding the financial world and also about tax and trade laws between different countries.
As a Deputy CFO I have accepted the high responsibility of liaising with all the department managers during the audit process to prepare the way for the selling of the former XX to YY in the spring of 2008. I received good comments from the auditors and the managing partners. This was a marquee deal in the real estate sector and my involvement led to the success of this deal.
As a CFO I have taken on the challenge to create and operate the structure of ZZ, the new company created by the former founders of XX.
I have consulted extensively with PWC on the task of improving the tax efficiency of our investment projects. I have successfully put this strategy into practice by coordinating the implementation of the new shareholder structure, by setting up the financial cash flow within the new structure and by extending my collaboration with trans-national consulting companies.
I was the official representative of the “XX” 8.300 sqm office-building project. I have ensured financing for this project by engaging a loan facility of 12 million Euros from a renowned bank in Romania. I have contracted and supervised the activity of the general constructor, architects, consulting companies and third party contractors..During the execution of this project I was instrumental in developing strong relationships with real estate agencies. I have negotiated and signed lease agreements with large brands like XX, YY and ZZ.
Over time I have been helping my family run their XX practice and the management of retirement homes in France. I have been providing financial counseling and management advice on running this venture. Through this venture I have been exposed to the challenges and vagaries of running a business. By virtue of this consulting experience, I can also bring about an entrepreneurial perspective to the class.