Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Michael Christian, MIT (Sloan)

“A former Indonesian central banker who aspires to shape ASEAN’s future by investing in future digital startups.”

Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia. Now I live in Cambridge, MA.

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was posted in the Bali office of Bank Indonesia, I witnessed how the increasing tourism income on Nusa Penida Island, a major tourist destination, benefited only wealthy investors while doing little for its 50,000 inhabitants. I also saw how indigenous women had to walk three hours to get clean water, a situation that prevented them from working day labor and perpetuated poverty. To change this, I proposed the construction of an infrastructure that would pump the water from the Tembeling spring into storage tanks on the hills of Penida and distribute it with the help of pipes to remote villages. Equipped with a budge of tens-of-thousands of dollars, I coordinated with the local authorities to start construction. By removing the need to travel for hours, we have successfully transformed the lives of indigenous women, a valuable experience that embodies my commitment to serve the country and shapes my great aspiration to create an inclusive economy through investment in technology develop.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia. Bachelor in Management, Major in Finance.

Last employer and job title: Economist at Bank Indonesia (Central Bank of Indonesia) 2017-22

What has been your first impression of the Sloan MBA students and alumni you have met so far. Tell us your best Sloan story so far. My first impressions of Sloan MBA students/alumni in Indonesia were their humility & helpfulness towards MBA applicants & incoming MBAs. When I reached out to them before submitting my application, they were very helpful in reviewing my application and preparing me for the interview, despite the 11-hour US-Indonesia time difference.

My best Sloan story was organizing a public event titled “Crack the Code of Attending MIT” in collaboration with MIT Alumni Indonesia and Education USA (US State Dept. Project in Indonesia). MIT alumni, and current and incoming students held a talk show and networking session to help hundreds of potential applicants. After the event finished, MIT alumni held a “sendoff luncheon” to officially welcome all incoming MIT students and prepare us for the exciting journey.

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These meetings made me feel welcomed. It was as if I were already an alumnus, even though I would still be walking on the MIT Sloan grounds until the end of August. Compared to other US universities, I believe that MIT alumni have the strongest network in Indonesia. I hope there are more stories to come when I start my MBA.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The MIT Sloan MBA is at the perfect intersection between finance, technology & entrepreneurship.

Sloan’s finance courses, taught by distinguished faculty and Nobel laureates, coupled with my pre-MBA experience in central bank finance, will sharpen my financial skills and prepare me to move into an investment management role in the Indonesian government.

Furthermore, MIT is at the forefront of technology, where scientific breakthroughs and thought leadership abound. in this digital age, technology & innovative management is driving transformation in both the private and public sectors. I am excited to learn about cutting-edge innovations at MIT and apply it in the Indonesian tech landscape to develop future unicorns.

In addition, the MIT MBA prides itself on developing future entrepreneurs. Since I plan to lead the Indonesia government investment fund that supports startup financing, it is crucial for me to develop an entrepreneurial mindset by taking entrepreneurship courses and learning from the entrepreneurial community at MIT in the Boston area.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan? In addition to registering for the Finance Track, I am also keen to join MIT’s Golub Center for Finance and Policy (GCFP), a think tank that focuses on innovative, cross-disciplinary and non-partisan research and education initiatives in the public sector field. I hope that my previous experience as a central banker from an emerging country will add some insight to the research programs of the GCFP. Learning from the distinguished faculty of the GCFP such as Profs. Andrew Lo and Robert Merton will polish my investment skills as I start a venture capital role in the Indonesian government’s new fund.

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Action Learning Labs are one of the biggest attractions of MIT Sloan. Which lab interests you the most? How does it fit with your interests? By enrolling in the MIT Finance Track and taking the Finance Lab, I aim to deepen my knowledge while sharing my insights into finance, economics, and public policy. During my 5.5-year career at the central bank, my exposure to the financial industry has been more of a research role. Engaging in the finance lab—especially in the investment management projects—helps me translate the financial skills I acquired pre-MBA into the classroom while solving real-world projects. These initiatives will prepare me to move into a more hands-on investment role at the Indonesia Investment Authority post-MBA.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program so far reinforced or strengthened those early impressions? The commonly held perception of MIT is that students are very smart but perhaps quiet and reserved. Perhaps this image is entrenched because of MIT’s strength in STEM. However, I found out that they are smart but not shy at all. All of the current Sloan students I have approached have been open, friendly, and super helpful during my application process as well as during Zoom Summer Orientation.

Some may be introverts, but they excel in 1-on-1 communication, and they sound genuine in all my interactions with them. They are far from antisocial or shy. I realize that the “shy” stigma needs to be reversed, I work alongside MIT alumni Indonesia and current MIT students to give back to the community by organizing info sessions and in the future organizing charity events.

Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: For the past four years, I have advised the Board of Directors of Bank Indonesia to set policy rates and formulate foreign policy. My proudest achievement is protecting Indonesia’s economy by influencing an early policy increase and orchestrating some unconventional policy measures. The COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented situation where monetary authorities must take bold action to protect the economy and stabilize financial markets. I successfully advised the board to cut a preemptive rate in February 2020 – a buffer for the coming crisis – making Bank Indonesia one of the first central banks.

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I also orchestrated unconventional political measures, such as the burden scheme with the Ministry of Finance to finance Indonesia’s COVID-19 expenses, a bold move deployed by only four countries. I also led a bilateral repurchase agreement with the US Fed worth ten billion to stabilize the rupiah, which depreciated 20% in March 2020. emerging markets in 2020.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? LBS & INSEAD

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to the MIT Sloan MBA program? Tell a compelling story line about your life journey that highlights the impact you’ve made in your career and shows your personality outside of work. I have coached many prospective MBA applicants from Indonesia. They often encountered a difficulty in combining elements of their lives into a concise, coherent and powerful essay. The ability to summarize one’s life journey in 300-word cover letter for Sloan MBA application is critical to pass the initial screening. While the essay usually focuses on the impact of your career, the one-minute video is where applicants emphasize their personality and be their true selves. My video started with me playing an instrument in a place where I first learned music. I believe my approach adds another layer to my admissions profile while differentiating my application among others.

The last part brings everything together in the interview with adcomm. Since most applicants applied to multiple schools, it is necessary to dig deeper into each school and discover the uniqueness of each school. I reached out to MIT alumni and students, asked for feedback on the two additional essays, and conducted mock interviews to calm my nerves. They have been very helpful to me, so much so that I have committed to pay it forward by helping future applicants.



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