What matters most to you and why?
I must confess that, until I read this application question, I had never given much thought to determining exactly what I consider most important in my life. I believe I am one of many applicants who confront this question without a ready-made answer, and I am astonished by the realization that so many of us lead our lives without reflecting on our roles. That is all the more perplexing when we consider that many of these individuals are businesspeople, that is, individuals entrusted with disseminating their companies' visions and missions. So I took some time over the past few weeks to reflect on my personal history, present context, and future plans. By carefully analyzing my actions, attitudes, and behaviors, I have finally come up with a solid answer to this complex question. My priority, to put it rather succinctly, is a lifelong pursuit to improve myself as a human being. Greek philosophers divided the human essence into a trilogy of mind, spirit, and body, and I find this a useful framework to break my life down into its three major dimensions: professional, spiritual, and personal. In my quest for self-improvement, I seek to make progress in each of those areas. THE PROFESSIONAL DIMENSION
For me, work itself is not a goal unto itself; rather, it is a mean to achieve my objectives. Nevertheless, it is a very important aspect of my life; on average, after all, 40% of our time is spent on duty. Besides financial rewards, work gives me the opportunity to refine and share knowledge, build relationships, help people, overcome personal challenges, grow as a professional, and participate in a social environment. For example, I feel proud of my ability to work with different people, even if they are difficult to deal with. When I was an Executive Trainee in HSBC, I supervised the work of a younger trainee, Aline, in the Credit Scoring Team. After her first weeks at work, everybody considered Aline a person with good performance but with a difficult personality. Although I agreed that she exhibited an overly aggressive behavior, I managed to conquer her respect. Even though I consider myself an usually impatient individual, I learned the importance of tolerance—two months after I left HSBC, I heard that she had been fired for her attitude. My flexibility is related to my eagerness to contribute to the learning environment of my workplace. While working in the Commercial Department of Samarco, for instance, I was part of a team that developed an Intranet site to inform our colleagues about the market, customers, and competitors. At HSBC, I co-founded a study group to learn about the financial market. Although those initiatives were valuable, another important accomplishment taught me how professional determination and adaptability can result in rewards of a more personal nature. In 1997, I started working as a teacher at a new computer school. In order to attract new students, the school set low fees and granted scholarships. Thus, students were usually poor, not very well educated, and responsible for supporting their families. They placed their hopes for a better life on learning computer skills. At first, I was intimidated. I had no previous work experience, and teaching a class of 24 would be a challenge unto itself. As classes went by, I developed a great relationship with the students. I often spent extra time with them and became a sort of counselor. Seeing them progress from hardly using a mouse to creating complex worksheets just four months later was enormously rewarding. Many found better jobs or were promoted. In the last class, they gave me the most precious thank-you card I have ever received: it was simple, yet heart-felt. Besides improving my communication skills and sharing my knowledge, I learned to work with people from different backgrounds and to establish nurturing relationships. Most importantly, I proved to myself that I can be useful to my community, and I...
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