A Personal Statement: Why NUS Management

This is the fifth edition of Indonesia Mengglobal Essay Clinic, our effort to provide tangible help for Indonesian applicants to US colleges. This essay clinic is not meant to showcase ‘the perfect essay’, but by analyzing other people’s essays (what works, what does not work, what’s good, what’s bad), we hope you can learn how to write an effective application essay and how to continuously improve your own essay. We also accept essay submissions. Click here to learn how to participate.

Note on the Essay

This essay was submitted to Indonesia Mengglobal through this form. This essay is part of an application to to National University of Singapore (NUS)’s MSc in Management program.

The Essay

Prompt:  “A Letter of Motivation (no more than 500 words) outlining the reasons why you want to enroll in the program(National University of Singapore).”

It was 2008 when I purchased my first share of stock. Ever since, I’ve invested a major chunk of my cash in stocks and my passion on investment has blossomed. Two years ago, I eventually carved an ambitious goal: to establish a distressed private equity firm in Indonesia before I turn 30 in November 2024. Mathematically-speaking, the potential is enormous; Current private equity funds invested in Indonesia is hovering around $3 billion within the bracket of Indonesia’s $400 billion stock exchange market capitalization and $1 trillion GDP. Taking deeper enclosure, there’s an untapped opportunity of Indonesia’s myriad of distressed firms given none of the private equities is a distressed private equity.

Bearing that in mind, post-MSc, I plan to work as an analyst for a distressed private equity in Singapore with extensive track record on thriving corporate turnaround andrestructuring. I aim to be promoted to the senior associate position by 2017 andprincipal position by 2019. The major takeaway within this duration is a steep learning curve on robust distressed investing platform, chiefly pertaining to strategies of detecting viable opportunities, valuing distressed companies, and ramping up their value. In 2021-2023 I’ll work in Indonesia as managing director. Developing network with qualified colleagues and clients is the main theme of this stage. Commencing 2023, I’ll sharpen my focus on preparing the establishment of the hedge fund, primarily by the virtue of search for partners to co-found the private equity.

In a bid to attain my aspired career trajectory, pursuing the NUS Msc in Management will equip me with the platform to do so. To peel the onion deeper, my major areas of interest are value investing, corporate finance and financial risk management. I aim to ask challenging questions on analyzing financial statement of a distressed firm in Valuation of Mergers and Acquisitions course. In the course, I look forward to debate with the lecturers and other students on strategies of restructuring distressed firmsand reversing destruction of corporate value. Quantitative risk management is another pivotal course whereby I will delve on various firms’ strategies in managing the upside and downside risk of a firm with severe financial pitfall in countenance.

To augment into it, I’ll bring into the class discussions a unique perspective stemming from experience of reading various finance literatures and investing in Indonesia’s stock exchange, one of Asia’s most vibrant stock exchanges in recent years. To name some are how the recent global economics have peculiarly impacted Indonesia’s investment climate as well as corporate practice in Indonesia which is not necessarily aligned with the prominent finance models.

Outside the class, I’ll complete my ‘NUS Experience’ by joining the seminars to deepen my acumen on recent issues. To pamper, I’ll play basketball with the basketball club and read in the Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library. I’ll also eye a leadership position in the International Student Society to hone my leadership skill. Henceforth, I’ll be an asset of NUS community and I hope to see myself in NUS this September!


Feedback from Andrego Halim

Paragraph 1

What is good about the first paragraph is that the author demonstrates his/her knowledge about the opportunity that lies within the distressed private equity sector in Indonesia.

Regrettably, this paragraph does not give enough details on author’s past, which will be critical before he/she goes into details on the ambitious goal section in the next paragraph. Author’s motivation/passion was merely described from these two sentences: “It was 2008 when I purchased my first share of stock. Ever since, I’ve invested a major chunk of my cash in stocks and my passion on investment has blossomed”. The author should expand on other sub topics regarding his/her first purchase of stocks especially on how it has shaped the author’s way of thinking today. For example, how the author obtained the knowledge when deciding stocks to buy, what obstacle/risk/issue that the author encountered and how the author resolved it, what lesson/mistake that the author has learned, and so on. It is also unclear why the author carved his ambitious goals two years ago. Did something exciting happen that year that the author forgot to include?

Paragraph 2

In the second paragraph, the author goes into great details on his/her 10-year vision. The author’s well-defined timeline sounds like a good career plan if the introduction part is solid. Sadly, the missing substance from first paragraph might have weakened this vision to be less realistic.

Paragraph 3

In the third paragraph, the author tries to explain why he/she chooses NUS program. Unfortunately, “Mergers and Acquisition” and “Quantitative Risk Management” courses are generally offered in many other well-respected business schools. Therefore, the author’s approach of describing the course selection is a bit too generalized and is not unique enough. This should be the part where the author needs to research further on what makes NUS Business School different compared to other business schools and why this specific “Msc in Management” program is perfectly tailored to author’s need.

There’s plenty of better approach that can be done: rank, location, professors, student services, etc. The author can elaborate on NUS’ Business school rank as top 5 in Asia and its location in Singapore as an important business hub within proximity to Indonesia.

Paragraph 4

In adding values to the class discussion, the author would like to utilize his knowledge on Indonesian stock and private equity sector. However, the author already did this on the first paragraph and repeating similar attempt in yet another paragraph will make it repetitive. Besides, with NUS’ close proximity to Indonesia, there will be a lot of other Indonesian students applying to the program. This makes the author less distinctive compared to others in terms of Indonesian-specific knowledge.

Instead, the author may need to add other types of feature, something else that has not been introduced before and can make him/her stand out among other applicants. It can be a leadership experience, a faculty award, an internship, a competition, student exchange program, field trips, and many more. Similar to what has been mentioned in the first paragraph’s comments above, highlight how the experience has shaped the author’s personality and traits in a more in-depth level. The “show-not-tell” rule applies well here.

Paragraph 5

A lot of people play basketball, come to seminars, and read in a library; these exemplify no uniqueness of the author. In sum, the last paragraph is ineffective to close a personal statement. It is better to allocate this space to create a solid concluding paragraph that highlights 2-3 key ideas from prior paragraphs concisely and creates a memorable impression.


Despite of the author’s tone that shows great confidence and knowledge on his/her subjects, some substances are missing in the writing to demonstrate the specific traits of the author. Speaking of grammar, the author could have done a better job. Apostrophes must not be used to shorten “I have” to “I’ve” or “I will” to “I’ll” in formal writing. Some compound sentences are a bit confusing, such as the one in fourth paragraph.

Photo: NUS Cultural Center from Wikimedia


  1. I have worked both at a PE firm (in Jakarta) and a BB investment bank (in NYC). I will also be working at a BB investment bank in Singapore this year.

    My two cents:

    1. Establishing a PE firm before 30 is impossible (unless you have a super connection, i.e. your uncle is the x-th richest guy in Indonesia).

    2. Being an MD before 30, is almost impossible. Usually, MD also sits as a member of the investment committee, which represents the LP (investor). So unless you are a relative to the LP, it will be extremely difficult to be an MD of a PE firm before 30.

    My opinion is you should write a realistic essay.


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