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Beauty And The Beholder

Home Country: USA
Previous Industry: Private Equity/Investment Banking

Analysis: The author chooses the theme of beauty and how it translates into every aspect of her life. Taking the reader through her rich personal experiences, she integrates elements of appreciation of beauty into her work life by drawing from experiences that have allowed her to develop a stronger attention to detail and striving to seek harmony in workplaces. She concretely ties it all together by saying how this appreciation helps her to bring unique perspectives to the table.

I am defined by my appreciation for beauty. It started young when my days were spent hiding under the tulle skirt of a wedding dress, organizing purses and tiaras on shelves and complimenting the pretty brides-to-be. I grew up in the midst of my family’s bridal business, which my [WESTERN EUROPEAN] grandparents started when they came to [NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRY]. I witnessed how satin, pearls and lace could transform someone physically. I experienced the effort that went into making someone beautiful for the best day of her life – hours working on your feet, pulling heavy garment bags, coordinating suppliers and seamstresses and managing customer expectations. Despite all the stress, my family remained dedicated to delivering the world’s most elusive product: aesthetic beauty. From this, I learned that beauty requires understanding of another’s, in this case, the customer’s, desire and commitment to produce something differentiated and fulfilling.

My understanding of beauty was further influenced by my love of old films. I would watch All About Eve and Funny Girl as routinely as most children would watch Sesame Street. I was infatuated by the elegant movements and poise that defined old Hollywood glamour. Seeking to recreate this aura, I enrolled in ballet and theater and found my voice on the stage. Through my pursuit of the perfect arabesque or high note, I learned that creating beauty requires intense focus and commitment. This has become central to my motivation and work style. I know that striving for more and pushing beyond can be difficult, but I believe each incremental improvement is a step toward perfection, and though perfection may never be attained, the discovery and passion that develops through the journey is sustaining. This intrinsic beauty is present in the joy I bring toward work and it often contributes to late nights at the office to produce quality work.

I believe my eye for detail differentiates me from many of my colleagues. While we are all able to spot busted model outputs and grammar errors, no one else notices the beautiful bouquet in the hotel lobby or the hesitation in the CEO’s voice when answering diligence questions. My understanding of beauty has evolved beyond perfect dance movements into a conversation with my environment. I pay attention, I listen and learn in an effort to understand. I have come to find that recognizing another’s motivations allows me to communicate my desires in a tailored manner that increases the odds of agreement. Like a chameleon, I examine my environment and adapt to be most effective in my space. Years of character and scene work in theater help me to identify motivations and desires. In college, my favorite activity was improvisational sketch comedy, which required constant attention, experimentation and adaptation. Now I seek yoga and experiences in nature, like hiking, to hone my attention and my ability to listen. In these moments, when the typical noise is quieted, I recognize the harmony in nature and between my mind and heart. To me, beauty is an expression of harmony.

Harmony can be an incredibly powerful tool in the workplace. I relish the feeling of working on a team and driving toward a common goal. My leadership style is to recognize my teammates’ strengths and determine how to align them in a way that propels us toward our objective. As a senior at [PRESTIGIOUS NORTH AMERICAN UNIVERSITY], I was selected to compete in the [NAME OF NORTH AMERICAN UNIVERSITY] Case Competition. I was placed on the international team with one student from [NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRY], one from [CENTRAL EUROPEAN COUNTRY], and another from [SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRY]. I was told the international team always finished last because the other teams were representing a single school and had practiced together for months. Unbothered by our stated disadvantage and how it should dictate our outcome, I focused on the process of coming together with my teammates as a working unit. We listened to one another and relied on one another’s individual strengths to create a presentation that was reflective of our four unique cultures, backgrounds and perspectives. Working 48 hours straight to solve a [NORTH AMERICAN CITY] dairy business’ strategic dilemma with people I had met only 72 hours prior was one of the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences of my life. Defying the expectations of everyone present, we won first place!

As an investor, I have learned that organizational harmony and collaboration are important. [NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM] passionately believes that selecting the right management team is core to an investment’s success. Strong management teams anticipate the customer’s needs and think strategically about the market. Exceptional management teams, however, additionally surround themselves with unique individuals that challenge their views and shore up their weaknesses. These leaders are able to drive collaboration and foster harmony within the workplace. In 2017, I was working on a partial sale proposal for [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY], our portfolio company in the video telematics sector, to a large risk management company. The sale terms were such that the acquiring company would buy half of [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY] today and partially integrate its infrastructure and personnel. It would then have the option to buy the remainder in three years. Everyone was excited about the deal, given the valuation. However, when the [NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM] partner running the deal asked me what I thought, I suggested we pass. I thought [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY]’s culture of innovation would be stifled in the acquiring company and I anticipated the operational complexity associated with leading a half-integrated team. From my perspective, this deal would have destroyed the organizational harmony that had, so far, driven [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY]’s ability to increase bookings 20% per year. We ultimately passed on this deal and completed a partial sale to an investor six months later at far better financial terms that also preserved the culture of [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY].

In summary, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the table. I look for organizational harmony and strive to create it where it does not yet exist. From the lasting memories and lessons of the bridal business, theater and recent work experience I have learned that observing, collaborating and nurturing teamwork in an investment profession can indeed be “beautiful”.

Comment: “I spent a long time brainstorming ideas. I even wrote a different essay and edited it many times. However, as the deadline approached, I kept thinking back to my conversations with alums who stressed that Harvard is looking to admit people who know themselves. With one week left in the application process, I was in a yoga class and the intention was to think about the thing that characterizes how you look at the world. That is when I realized how central my appreciation for beauty is to my life. I decided to change the essay and asked my parents and boyfriend to review it. We all agreed that the essay captured my essence. My advice would be to write about something that matters to you. When you read your essay, your reaction should be “wow I never would have thought of this before, but it is so uniquely me”.

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