Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Michael Christian, MIT (Sloan)

Michael Christian

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“A former Indonesian central banker aspiring to shape ASEAN’s future by investing in future digital startups.”

Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia. Now I’m living in Cambridge, MA.

Fun Fact About Yourself: When posted at Bank Indonesia’s Bali office, I witnessed how the rising tourism income on Nusa Penida Island, a major tourist destination, only benefited rich investors while doing little for its 50,000 locals. I also saw how indigenous women had to walk three hours to obtain clean water, a situation which prevented them from working day jobs and perpetuated poverty. Resolving to change this, I proposed the construction of an infrastructure that would pump the water from Tembeling spring to storage tanks up the hills of Penida and distribute it to remote villages using pipes. Equipped with a budge of tens-of-thousands of dollars, I coordinated with the local authorities to start construction. By removing the need to travel for hours, we successfully transformed the lives of indigenous women, an invaluable experience that embodies my commitment to serve the country and shapes my grand aspiration to develop an inclusive economy through investment and technology.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia. Bachelor’s in management, major in Finance.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Economist at Bank Indonesia (Central Bank of Indonesia) 2017-22

What has been your first impression of the Sloan MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Sloan story so far. My first impressions of Sloan MBA students/alumni in Indonesia were their humility & helpfulness towards MBA applicants & incoming MBAs. When I approached them prior to submitting my application, they were very helpful in reviewing my application and prepping me for the interview, despite the 11-hour US-Indonesia time difference.

My best Sloan story was organizing a public event titled, “Crack the Code of Attending MIT“ in collaboration with MIT Alumni Indonesia and Education USA (US State Dept. project in Indonesia). MIT alumni, and current and incoming students held a talk show and networking session to help hundreds of prospective applicants. After the event finished, MIT alumni held a “sendoff lunch” to officially welcome all incoming MIT students and prepare us for the exciting journey ahead.

These encounters made me feel welcomed. It was as if I was already an alumnus, although I had yet to step onto MIT Sloan ground until the end of August. Compared to other US universities, I believe that MIT’s alumni have the strongest network in Indonesia. I hope there are more stories to come when I start my MBA.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The MIT Sloan MBA lies on the perfect intersection between finance, technology & entrepreneurship.

Sloan’s finance courses, taught by distinguished faculty and Nobel Laureates, coupled with my pre-MBA experience in finance at the central bank, will sharpen my financial skills and prepare me to to transition into an investment management role within the Indonesia government.

Moreover, MIT is at the forefront of technology, where scientific breakthroughs and thought leadership are plentiful. in this digital age, technology & innovative management drives transformation in both private and public sector. I’m keen to learn about cutting-edge innovations at MIT and apply it in Indonesia’s tech landscape to develop future unicorns.

Furthermore, the MIT MBA prides itself in developing future entrepreneurs. Given that I plan to lead Indonesia’s government investment fund that supports startup financing, it’s crucial for me to develop an entrepreneur mindset by taking entrepreneurship classes and learning from the entrepreneur community at MIT and the Boston area.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan? Aside from enrolling in the Finance Track, I’m also keen to participate in MIT’s Golub Center for Finance and Policy (GCFP), a thinktank focusing on innovative, cross-disciplinary and non-partisan research and educational initiatives in the public sector field. I hope that my previous experience as a central banker from an emerging country will add some insights to GCFP’s research programs. Learning from GCFP’s distinguished faculty such as Profs. Andrew Lo and Robert Merton will polish my investment skillset as I embark on a venture capital role in Indonesia government’s new fund.

Action Learning Labs are one of MIT Sloan’s biggest attractions. Which lab interests you most? How does it fit with your interests? By enrolling in MIT’s Finance Track and taking the Finance Lab, I aim to deepen my knowledge while sharing my insights into finance, economics, and public policy. During my 5.5-year career at the Central Bank, my exposure to finance industry is more of a research role. Getting involved in the Finance Lab– especially in the investment management projects—will help me to translate the finance skills I have acquired pre-MBA and in the classroom, while solving real-world projects. These initiatives will prepare me to transition into a more hands-on investing role in Indonesia’s Investment Authority post-MBA.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? The commonly held perception of MIT is that the students are very smart but perhaps quiet and reserved. Perhaps this image is ingrained because of MIT’s strength in STEM. However, I found out that they’re indeed smart but not shy at all. All current Sloan students I approached are open, friendly, and super helpful during my application process as well as during the Zoom summer orientation.

Some are indeed introverts, but they excel in 1-on-1 communication, and they sound genuine in all of my interactions with them. They are far from antisocial or shy. Realizing that the “shy” stigma needs to be reversed, I work alongside the MIT alumni Indonesia and current MIT students to give back to the community by organizing info sessions and, in the future, charity events.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: For the past four years, I’ve been advising Bank Indonesia’s Board of Governors on setting policy rates and formulating foreign economic policy stance. My proudest achievement is safeguarding Indonesia’s economy by influencing an early policy rate cut and orchestrating several unconventional policy measures. The COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented situation where monetary authorities must take bold actions to safeguard the economy and stabilize the financial markets. I successfully advised the Board to take a preemptive rate cut in February 2020—a buffer for the forthcoming crisis—making Bank Indonesia one of the first central banks to do so.

I also orchestrated unconventional policy measures, such as the burden-sharing scheme with the Ministry of Finance to fund Indonesia’s COVID-19 spending, a bold move only deployed by four countries. I also led a bilateral repurchase agreement with the US Fed worth tens-of-billions to stabilize the Rupiah, which depreciated 20% year-to-date in March 2020. The results are that Indonesia’s economic growth and currency were among the least impacted in emerging markets in 2020.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  LBS & INSEAD

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program? Tell a compelling storyline about your life’s journey that highlights the impact you’ve made in your career and showcases your personality outside work. I’ve coached many prospective MBA applicants from Indonesia. They often encountered a difficulty in combining elements of their life into a concise, coherent, and powerful essay. The ability to summarize one’s life journey into 300-word cover letter for Sloan MBA application is critical to pass the initial screening. While the essay usually focuses on your career’s impacts, the one-minute video is where applicants could spotlight their personality and be their truest self. My video started with me playing an instrument in a place where I first learned music. I believe my approach adds another layer to my admissions profile while differentiating my application amongst others.

The last part is bringing it all together in the interview with adcomm. Since most applicants applied to multiple schools, it’s imperative to dig deeper into each school and discover each school’s uniqueness. I reached out to MIT alumni and students, asked for feedback on the two additional essays, and held mock interviews to calm my nerves. They were very helpful to me, so much so that I committed to paying it forward by helping future applicants.


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