1. Your reason for choosing the programme
2. Positions of responsibility you have held and how these have helped any subsequent endeavours
3. Achievements in your life of which you are most proud and what you have learned from these.
Hi all, I have been asked to upload SOP in a file not exceeding 2 MB. I do not know how long the SOPs should be. How much time will the adcom will be able to spend on the SOP. In a MS Word font size 11.5 and line spacing 1. it comes around 5 pages. Inputs on the length highly appreciated.
Here goes my SOP.
A banyan tree provides shade for everyone but doesn't let a blade of grass grow under it. With my family business expanding like a banyan tree, I decided, even in high school, not to become yet another root which would never be remembered. Though my father asked me to pursue commerce, I developed a strong passion for computers which secured me a place at the state's top university. I knew I had to ultimately connect back to business, but I wanted to do it my way.
My strong technical acumen secured me my first internship, during my 2nd semester at university, developing a portal for the Ministry of Higher Education to serve state-owned institutions. Selected for a 5 member team from among thousands of graduates, and with no prior experience handling real-time complex projects, I contributed my expertise in creative technology analysis. Working with directors (representatives from the Ministry), technical experts, CEOs of vendors, and end-users including clerics, school principals and faculty, gave me new insights into collaborative team work and effective communication.
While working with the project's vendors I was in the loop with CEOs of start-ups, some of whom were recent college graduates. I admired their enthusiasm, their spirit to connect their education with business, and their obvious pride in company ownership; I was fascinated by their business cards. This admiration was further fuelled when I attended a guest lecture by Suhas Gopinath, acclaimed as the youngest CEO when he founded his company Globals Inc. at the age of 14. I knew I would start my own IT company.
After much research and analysis of successful self-made entrepreneurs (keeping my family out of the loop), I decided to build products and services targeting SMEs to enhance their business activities. With a few hundred dollars of pocket money as the initial investment and my hostel room as my first office, I founded, with my friend, BHASH Software Labs. With India's mobile user base growing at 25% per year, we decided to take advantage of the emerging mobile application developments and mobile marketing services, to reach out to mass market of SMEs.
Heading the business division of the company, I began to realize how much work entrepreneurs put in to make great companies. Experimenting with my marketing skills, I conducted extensive market research to obtain a deep understanding of our potential clients as well as competitors. After several sleepless nights and debates over late night coffee I came up with a business strategy. Our first target was the retail segment. With the effective strategies in place and value-added services, our customer base started to expand.
Within 3 months we had to expand to our next office, a nearby garage. I hired our first employee. We soon found the need to address business issues like sustainability, budgeting, auditing and taxation. With a stable recurring customer base, but limited budgeting capabilities and office infrastructure, I realized that without further expansion large ad campaigns, lavish meetings, and hence corporate customers were out of reach for us.
To give our products more visibility and to compete with larger companies, I came up with the innovative idea of SMS partnering, wherein we partnered with premier institutions' technical and cultural events, marketing their festivals in our SMS and mobile marketing platform. Our first partnership with IIM Mumbai found us a place in Forbes, alongside Microsoft, Google, Deliotte, P&G and Unilever. Our partnership gave us a slot in sponsorship presentation wherein I briefed MBA grads and highly placed executive guests about our products. Subsequent partnerships continued to give us new dimensions as a marketing company.
Our momentum grew. I recruited 9 additional sales and marketing employees. As our retail customer base expanded, the market, previously dominated by a few monopolistic companies, heard our voice too. We were the company with the largest retail base in our state. We started expanding our retail reach to neighboring states. To strengthen our retail base, gain customer loyalty and a larger market share, we conducted business development workshops for our resellers. This personal connection improved customer loyalty and expanded the resellers' business as well.
We received an offer from a competitor for many times our investment. With the balance between academics and business becoming difficult, we decided to sell. My family was immensely proud of the achievement.
After the success of my start-up, a wave of start-up companies began in our campus dorms. I saw another opportunity, and worked with the Vice Chancellor of my University to revamp the school's Entrepreneurship cell, adding more representation from experts from various domains. Actively participating in strategy meetings of various start-ups founded by other university students was invaluable.
The quest for new experiments in different business scenarios led me to an internship at XXX Mills, working with top management on new business models to regain their lost monopoly on fast moving consumer goods. Along with top management and MBA graduates, I worked to analyze competitors' business models and proposed a new distributorship model and marketing strategy that turned the situation around. This internship gave me an opportunity to deal with huge working capital, and help lift a failing enterprise. My contribution and insights was highly appreciated by management.
During my final semester of college, our department's long-standing request for a separate student's association became a reality. Because of my rapport among the students, I was chosen to be the first president. My first initiative was the idea of hosting a national technical festival, which I called XXX, to enable a better connection between students, faculty, alumni, experts, and industry. Originally considered impractical due to time constraints, we decided to go for it.
This was another experiment for me, leading a team of 200 students to market and host the event. Since it was the first edition of the event, marketing was the greatest challenge. We used innovative marketing platforms such as promotions in theatres, flash mobs at malls, and rallies on campus to promote the event. We hosted online events weeks before the actual event, and received participants from across 36 countries, including professionals from top IT firms across the globe. The event received a foot fall of 3000 students. Our sponsors, originally quite skeptical, were very much convinced about the outreach of the event and highly appreciated my team.
I was then given the additional responsibility of becoming the placement representative for my class, presenting facts and figures to effectively market the talent pool of my university to new recruiters who enquired. I also solicited several new recruiters - Morgan Stanley, Pepsico, Directi, and Mahindra and Mahindra.
All my undergraduate endeavors gave me new thought processes about businesses and organizations. First, I recognized the need to make my community a better place. I began volunteering my services to integrate Sri Lankan Tamil refugees into the local job market, negotiating with labour unions to gain them recognition and entitlement to rights and benefits. It is a rewarding task, and one that I will continue.
Second, I began to realize what it had cost my father to build such an organization; I decided to start my career in our family's company, joining XXX Fin Corp, where I now work as a management trainee. To move forward now and succeed I must learn more sophisticated management skills. Extensive research has made it crystal clear that Imperial's programme is a perfect fit. There is no better place than London, a world cultural capital, Europe's business capital, and one of the leading financial centres, to obtain a business education which will develop life-long professional relationships and excellent finance industry networking.
XXX's reputation for innovation in business models and entrepreneurial culture is globally known. The profiles of recent speakers are very impressive. The course has a perfect blend of finance modules and leadership training required in the dynamic world of global business. The course is well structured to connect theory and practical skills. The Business Simulation exercise, business plan competition and the management essay in the second half of the course put the theory learned in the first half into practice.
An XXX MSc degree will fast-track my learning curve in the practical skills needed to climb the conventional management ladder, such as marketing, finance, strategy, operations and leadership. Through case studies, group discussions and interactions with a class of experienced individuals from diverse backgrounds, I will be able to widen my perspective on real-life practical cases.
Surrounding myself with like-minded intellectually engaging individuals from diverse backgrounds who share the same passion and desire about the subject will allow for a valuable exchange of views and business perspectives from different cultural contexts.
I will collaborate with other motivated students from departments on all 7 campuses, alumni and experts to establish strong networks with grads from engineering, science and medicine, as well as getting involved in the Entrepreneurship, Private Equity and Venture Capital Clubs. I will take advantage of the India Business Club as well, to connect with my fellow countrymen.
Of equal importance, XXX's career services are very effective. With an alumni network of more than 10,000 people from 110 countries I can only imagine the networking opportunities across the globe that will help my long term career plans.
The XXX badge on my figurative lapel will put me on a list that contains many elite managers. It will be indeed be an honor to share alumni space with Cyrus Mistry, next Chairman of Tata Sons, one of India's biggest industrial conglomerates. I am also a great fan of Mr. Steve Jobs; he was right when he said that to be successful one should learn to connect the dots. The right education at XXX will provide the tools to convert my ideas to implementation, to connect the dots.