IMD 2014 MBA Essay Tips


IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, offers a 1-year MBA program focused on general management and leadership. While there are only 90 students in each class, the diversity among that class is wide: students hail from 45 countries: 43% from throughout Europe, 26% from Asia, 11% from the Middle East and Africa, 9% from North America, 8% from South America, and 3% from Oceania (Australia/New Zealand and the surrounding islands). Unlike programs in the US, which tend to build the bulk of their classes from students aged 26-28, IMD’s average student age is 31.

Graduates of IMD tend do very well in their careers after the program: the average graduate salary is over $142,000 per year. 75% of the class join industry (including Consumer Products, Industrial Products, Technology, Healthcare, and Energy) when they graduate, 20% enter Consulting, and 5% pursue Financial Services careers. IMD enjoys a global reputation that affords its graduates some flexibility in their career destinations: while 63% of the class remain in Europe after graduating, 23% find employment in Asia, 8% in the Africa or the Middle East, and 6% in North or South America. IMD is consistently ranked among the top programs in the world: BusinessWeek ranks it #9 among international programs, the Financial Times ranks it #19, and Forbes named it the best 1-year international MBA program.

Essay Questions:

1. What do you consider to be your single most important achievement and why? (1500 characters)

Your single most important achievement should ideally show impact, leadership, and cross-cultural and cross-functional savvy. If you can’t have all the above, make sure you have at least two.

You have room here (1500 characters is approximately 250 words) for a concise story but it must engage the reader and convey the “why” and not just the “what.”

You may want to review a few of these resources before writing:

Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Essay
Leadership in Admissions, a free special report.
Insights into Common MBA Essay Topics

2. Please comment on a situation where your leadership skills proved to be inadequate and what you learned. (1500 characters)

Briefly describe the inadequacy – and make it a real one – a time when you really blew it. Take responsibility for your actions and show self-awareness. Discuss lessons learned and how you implemented those lessons successfully in similar, more recent situations. 

3. IMD develops global leaders…what does global leadership mean to you? (1500 characters)

This essay is your opportunity to briefly summarize your ideas on what it takes to be a global leader and share an example of your own cross-cultural, cross-border leadership.

4. Give us four bullet points that clearly differentiate you, that identify your unique contributions to the program. (1500 characters)

Your MBA essays up to this point are probably very professionally focused. Several of the bullet points could be personal. IMD wants to know about you as a person, as well as you as a professional. This may be a great place to inform the reader of distinctive features in your background or personal life since your resume and the other essays will have already told them about unusual aspects of your professional life. 

5. Give an example of the most unexpected thing that you’ve ever learned. (1500 characters)

I love a wild card question like this one: what a gift! Here’s your opportunity to talk about anything in your background that’s interesting as long as it highlights one of the seven qualities that the admissions committee wants to hear about. To make the essay interesting, you could start by describing the learning experience itself and then reflect on how this has changed your actions or methods since then.

A. For people who are planning to consider new jobs and/or organizations after the MBA: Please give us your short term career goal post-MBA. Which function, industry and geography do you see yourself working in? Are these changes for you, and, if so, why? How will you approach your job search? (1500 characters)

This is a forward-looking, connect-the-dots MBA goals question with a twist. To answer this question, you need to know what you want to do after you complete IMD’s short, intense program, and you also need to explain how you plan to move into that position. You need to know what IMD career services offers and how you will use and supplement those services.


B. For people who are company-sponsored, confirmed going back to their previous company, entrepreneurs planning to go back to their own firm, and/or members of a family who are planning to work for the family business after graduation: Please let us know your short-term career goals and plans after your MBA. (1500 characters)

Even when your future is “assured” with an offer or clear career path after the program, you need to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have a purpose and a plan. In this essay, you need to explain what impact you hope to make on the company and how you plan to do that.

7. Additional Optional Essay: Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee to know which has not been covered elsewhere in this application? (Optional essay). (1500 characters)

With IMD’s seven essays, this may be the one application where the optional essay is really unnecessary. Nonetheless, if you have something to explain – a low GPA, low GMAT, a gap in employment, etc. – or something to add, this is the place to do it.

If you would like professional guidance with your IMD MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the IMD MBA application.

IMD 2014 Application Deadlines

February 1, April 1, June 1, August 1 and September 1.

*While you can choose any of our application deadlines, we encourage you to apply as early as possible.
Apply for the February 1st or April 1st deadline to have the option of being interviewed in Singapore.
Apply for one of the first four deadlines if you are a citizen of a country that requires a visa process of over 6-8 weeks. (We recommend that you check with your local embassy, especially if you are bringing your family with you as this can prolong the process.)

Jennifer Bloom By is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and is available now to create an easy-to-read document that highlights your exceptionality. Creating this document now will help you see where you need to generate more content – i.e., take more action – before the fall deadlines .

  • Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for IMD, please provide the following information:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

  • guest

    IMD career services has had a disastrous performance over last few years and recruitment on campus has taken a beating.

  • guest

    Insead career staff is very proactive in networking,dining and building relationships with leading companies across various industries. If IMD has only 90 students their career services should be doing better ?

  • Inseader

    Turns out that IMD is not heeded by companies located in Switzerland as well and students join IMD with dreams of landing lucrative jobs in Switzerland only to be disappointed.

  • Simon

    Sounds like IMD needs a shakeup ! Their selection process gives preference to spouses I hear or are they having a hard time getting good candidates ? 2014 class has four spouses from previous years class and all happen to be Indians ! Most student go to IMD because they get loans upto 65K CHF without any collateral. Insead and LBS don’t have this facility but the programs are flexible for individuals and one can choose to make the most of the year as per his/her development needs and career aspirations. IMD on the other hand is rigid, does not appreciate individuality and force fits everyone into one leadership framework which is nothing but breeding resentment, provoking group conflicts and getting psychotherapy to ease the resulting stress.

    • Amazoner

      Simon, an internal email, leaked, from the class of 2013 is on the web which gives details of why he doesn’t like the leadership stream. This candidate and few others were suspended or reprimanded for voicing their feedback.