Goals Essay- Before

Briefly assess your career progress to date.

Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management.

(500 to 750 words)

The meteoric adoption of social media, the introduction of tablets and smartphones as new channels to consume the media and the continued rise of online marketing spend in contrast to the decline of traditional television and radio spend has made life very difficult for marketers. The digital media industry is filled with companies trying to address these demands and in the process creating niche markets. My goal is to be an entrepreneur in the digital marketing technology space. Working for an advertising technology company, whose products are the conduits for 90% of all advertising spend in the industry; my current job provides the best platform for my future endeavors.

Upon graduation with a Masters in Computer Science, I started my career as a Research Programmer at the University of Illinois. Being part of a small team meant my responsibilities ranged from advising the professors on the next generation of instructional technology to architecting software solutions that will be used by 40,000+ students. The variety of work helped me become a well-rounded individual professionally and it did not take long for the IT director to notice my unique skill-set and tasked me with leading a multi-campus team in the implementation of a student portal.

The transition from working for a non-profit to a startup software company trying to build the next generation media buying system was very rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to help architect the digital buying system which played a vital role in transforming the company to a market leader in the space. The system currently handles more than 50% of all US online advertising spend. One of the major issues faced by the company was the lack of Technical personnel, who had a deep understanding of the products that were offered and who could act as liaison between the technical team and various business units. I knew I could fill in this void and I took it upon myself to learn the entire product suite that was offered. The move was opportunistic and it paid off; I was recently offered a Product Manager role.

As the product manager leading the company’s external integrations and API strategy, I need to evaluate potential partners based on not only their revenue potential but also their technology compatibility. Recently, I was given the responsibility of managing our relationship with all our Ad Serving partners. We already had several established partners and the process to onboard a new partner and manage their relationship was very well defined, so my job should have been very simple. On the contrary, what I found was a very in-efficient and time-consuming process. As my first action item, I went through all the communication that was happening between our development team and our partners. Thanks to my formal education in Computer Science and prior experience in database architecture I was able to quantify the issues in hand and make sense of the technical details.

Our development team was spending inordinate amount of time answering unnecessary questions and creating test data to help the partners with their testing. I found out that the Ad Serving partners did not have access to the documentation of our services and the documents they had access to, was not up to date, which led them to reach out to our development team. In addition, the partners did not have access to our testing API, which would enable them to create their own testing data instead of relying on our development team. To remedy the situation, I started with the help of our Marketing team to launch a defined go to market plan for our Ad Server API product and target all our Ad Serving partners. My proposal was to launch a developer website where partners can go to get all their technical questions answered and also equip them with creating their own test data. I faced a similar situation when working for the University of Illinois, back then we launched a support portal to reduce our technical support hours by more than 60%, so I knew this would work. I also did a cost analysis of all our prior partner integrations and proposed a technology fee to be charged for all future partner onboarding to cover the upfront costs.

It is evident from this one example, how my prior experience as a technologist has helped me in providing solutions and helped me perform my role current role as a product manager. My blend of product and technical skills together with the marketing, operations and management skills from a Kellogg MBA will help me land a senior product role in the digital marketing industry post MBA and ultimately will enable me to be an entrepreneur.

I am drawn to the practical group based learning professed by the Kellogg MBA program. There is no better way to learn than to learn by practice, as part of team. I look forward to solving real world problems in the industry with the help of fellow students from multiple disciplines. I am particularly attracted to the experiential learning opportunities provided by the Nuvention program. To learn that some of the projects started through the Nuvention program went on to become successful companies, some even in the digital technology space, further attests to the fact that Kellogg is the right place for me.

Multi-channel attribution, lack of consistent measurement and reporting standards and discrepancy resolution are some of the issues facing the digital marketing world, on which I plan to have discussions both in and outside the classroom with the students and professors. I am excited that I will be able to directly apply the findings from such discussions and provide solutions to the industry through my current role. I hope I have made clear why the Kellogg MBA program will enable me to achieve my career goals as well as how I will contribute to the betterment of the program, I see this as the start of a symbiotic relationship.

(993 words)

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