MBA essay: “Always Right”

Tell the Admission Committee about a time when it cost you to maintain your integrity and what you learned from the experience. (250 words)”

Earlier this year the unthinkable happened: a client fell in my lap. I am a business consultant. Normally I have to fight tooth-and-claw for every contract. Here I simply overheard a fellow complaining into a cell phone… then walked over and handed him my card.

He had a product to sell. He said he needed someone who could sell it. There’s a lot of things I can’t do, I said. But I can do that.

As a consultant, I have learned that my first job isn’t serving the client’s needs: it’s telling the client what their needs actually are. After examining his product, and the marginal profitability thereof, I determined that the client didn’t need a salesman. He needed a miracle.

But the client didn’t know this. And he was ready to shower me with riches – up-front riches; the best kind! – if I would agree to run his business.

I was in a great quandary. I knew that the client was going to end up unhappy. I could do all the tasks he was assigning me, but those tasks wouldn’t accomplish what he expected. Namely, to make him a millionaire overnight.

But on the other hand, he said he knew just what he wanted. Who was I to tell him otherwise? I was very well suited for the job he was offering. The fact that the job wasn’t well suited to him wasn’t any of my business. Was it?

In the end I took my dilemma to him. I tried my best to get him to change his mind. I was proud of myself. So was the client. But he assured me my fears were unfounded; we were all going to retire within the month.

Six months later and he was very unhappy. He’d sold less than a thousand units. Most of them were being returned. Small consolation that I’d told him exactly what was going to happen. Small consolation that some people have to learn their lessons the hard way.

At least I had the foreknowledge to get paid up front. That consolation cannot be understated.

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~ by davekov on 4 January 2013.

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