I Gates Foundation cover letter discussion
This client wanted to transition to an organization with social impact – the Gates Foundation seemed like a great fit. She also wanted to put her background in corporate finance and operations analysis to work as an Associate in the Strategy, Innovation and Impact within the Finance division.
The Strategy, Innovation, and Impact group is the primary function supporting the creation and evaluation of our strategies, as well as exploring new paths to impact that align with our mission. This includes supporting the CEO, CFO and Chief Strategy Officer in key accountabilities that include responsibility for governance of the organization, overseeing strategy development, strategy performance measurement, portfolio management, exploring special initiatives and in managing relationships both internally and externally. The Measurement & Evaluation team is one of two key pillars of the Strategy, Innovation, and Impact group; Strategy being the other.
In the client’s original cover letter, she tries to convey her passion for the Gates Foundation’s mission and work but she struggles to concretely relate that mission to her personal feelings and experiences. It can be surprisingly difficult to break into the nonprofit world and so in this case it seemed worthwhile to dedicate the first half of the cover letter to elaborating on the client’s awareness of global issues and the principles at the heart of the Gates Foundation. The second half of the cover letter is more traditional in that it gives the reader a summary of the breadth of the client’s professional experience and then highlights some achievements that are directly related to to the requirements for this role.
II Professionally written cover letter to the Gates Foundation
Dear Strategy, Innovation, and Impact Team,
Having majored in finance and actuarial science, my first job as an analyst at John Deere Financial seemed ideal. Although my financial analysis skills were growing, on a personal level, something was missing. I’d always called the Midwest home but I found myself drawn to the new places, people and ideas that living outside of one’s country allows for. In YEAR, I heeded my inner voice and made the leap. I learned Mandarin, moved to China, worked in Shanghai for two years and traveled throughout rural China, India and Indonesia.
Abroad, my appreciation of the inequality and injustice that exist in the world evolved from abstract to concrete. In the West, happiness is closely associated with material comforts, while in the third world the people I met were filled with joy in spite of them. Their strength of character and fortitude is the bedrock on which the work of the Gates Foundation is made both possible and effective.
Each one of us wants to feel we’re a part of something bigger and more than ourselves. Promoting the mission of the Gates Foundation, in my own small way, would be an incredibly fulfilling commitment for me. What impresses me most of all is the Gates Foundation focus on long-term impact.
In my professional life, I’ve worked in corporate finance at John Deere, led operations and financial audit initiatives at COMPANY X in China and now at COMPANY Y I help clients like Coca-cola optimize promotions and understand why people are ‘predictably irrational’. At first glance those roles might seem unrelated but they’re not. What’s kept me engaged has been my passion for taking on big data sets and seeing the human behavior or business process that underlie them. I’ve also enjoyed teaching what I’ve learned to others – sometimes guiding colleagues and other times helping clients uncover practical solutions to what seem like abstract problems.
Clean drinking water, sanitation and rising tobacco use are complex problems that require multi-faceted solutions. Analyzing and improving on the grant making process and producing in-depth financial analysis as an Associate Measurement and Evaluation Officer would be natural extensions of my core interests and competencies.
For example, at COMPANY X I led our financial due diligence and audit as the owners prepared to divest. That meant analyzing areas in our business model most likely to compromise company’s financial integrity, identifying specific cash flow issues through sensitivity analysis, optimizing our supplier selection for key raw materials to increase cash flow by $500,000 and introducing a price increase of 8% which led to a 20% profit margin (up from 112%).
Likewise, my financial analysis of operations revealed that a dynamic sales dashboard would help free up cash from inventory. I began with over 100,000 data points from sales, then layered on Excel, VBA and SQL to develop a tool that helped us predict monthly sales and order materials on a just-in-time basis.
I’d be delighted to learn more about the Strategy, Innovation, and Impact Group’s current projects and needs and discuss how I could contribute to your efforts.
III Client’s original cover letter to the Gates Foundation
Dear Finance Associate Hiring Manager,
My ambition is to work for a company that that truly impacts society while operating in the efficient fashion of a private enterprise. The Gate’s Foundation epitomizes these aspirations. When I saw your opening for a Global Business Analyst, I knew that my quantitative background in pricing, strategy and operations would be a strong fit.
Over the past two years I’ve worked in an unlikely place for a food and beverage manufacturer – Shanghai, China. As an Associate with COMPANY X, a 5-year-old firm, I benefited from strong mentorship and a start-up mentality in order to build on my experience in analytics and finance.
Tobacco use in China is an issue I feel particularly passionate about. My personal experiences in Shanghai revealed that the problem is multidimensional. Smoking is ingrained in both personal and private social settings while many locals that I knew did not believe that smoking was harmful. Finally, cigarettes are so cheap that their cost is nowhere near prohibitive. I would love to play a part in tackling complex problem such as this through sensitivity analysis, modeling and visualizing data.
At COMPANY X, I conducted many such analysis. One such example was a dynamic factory shop sales dashboard. Building this report first involved exporting unformatted point of sale data from the cash register (100,000 monthly data points). Then using Excel, VBA and SQL I transformed it into a succinct reoccurring report that visually displayed our month-to-month success. This report lead to inventory bundling based on correlation analysis, predictive out of stock decisions and price-elasticity optimization.
As the steward of COMPANY X’s business plan, I have extensive financial modeling experience. Cash flow was paramount to our business and I identified key cash flow risks such as customer payment delays and opportunities to increase working capital through conducting sensitivity analysis. I also prepared and presented our business plan to potential partners and am well versed in tailoring my communication complex issues to the audience.
I’d be delighted to speak with you to learn more about your needs for a Finance Associate and discuss how my current skills could be helpful within your team.