2016 IMD Essay Tips

Click here to read other school specific essay tips.IMD, the International Institute for Management Development, 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 3-year average graduate salary is $131,800. 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 remains in Europe after graduating, 22% find employment in Asia, 6% in the Africa or the Middle East, and 9% 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 #12, and Forbes named it the best 1-year international MBA program.

IMD scaled way back this year, trimming their application from 7 essays to just 3, but there are other areas in the application form that will require additional short answers as well.

IMD was recently buffeted by major changes in administrative personnel and direction. For details, please see “5 Key IMD Officials Resign.” Now, to the IMD essay tips for 2016:

Essay 1:

Describe yourself in two hundred words or less [200 words]

I recommend covering just one or two major attributes in this short essay, sharing two separate anecdotes or one example that demonstrates both traits. Some of the qualities that IMD values in its students are an international outlook, desire to make a difference, commitment to learning from others, a broad understanding and appreciation of moral issues, and effective leadership. While you do not need to use these terms specifically, essays that reveal these qualities will appeal to the admissions committee.

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Essay 2:

Give an example of a time when you were confronted with an unrecoverable event. How did it affect you and what were your greatest learnings? [300 words]

“Unrecoverable event” is a euphemism for failure. You need to choose an event in which you could have done better. I often see applicants implicitly or explicitly blame others in their essays for what went wrong. Unfortunately, not accepting responsibility for the failure will indicate to the admissions committee that you are emotionally immature and incapable of owning your role in the failure. Focus instead on what personal and professional insights would have been helpful to you and how you have worked to gain and apply those since this event.

Essay 3:

On your 75th birthday someone close to you presents your laudatio (tribute). It can be a friend, colleague, family member etc. Please describe in detail what this person would say about you and your life. [300 words]

This is your chance to share some of the accomplishments you have achieved in your life so far and others that you aspire to achieve before you turn 75. Instead of dreaming of enormous accomplishments in the future that have no grounding in what you have been doing so far, go ahead and talk about some of your achievements to date and how they set you on the path to the accomplishments you intend to talk about on your 75th birthday. Applicants may also use this essay to describe their long-term career and life goals – describing those goals as if they have come to fruition.

Short answer questions from throughout the application:

What is your career goal post IMD? [200 characters]

200 characters is typically just a bit more than 2 lines of text, so you don’t have much room here to explain the role you would like to secure after graduating from IMD. While one-third of the class changes their function, industry, and geography after graduating from IMD, 93% change only one of these areas and 74% change only two: your short-term goal needs to connect in some way to what you’ve been doing until now to be a credible transition. It should include the function you want to perform, the industry in which you want to perform it, and geographic location if relevant.

What are the skills you need to develop in order to achieve your goal? [200 characters]

Again, this allows only a short response. Successful applicants will research their intended short-term goal to understand the business skills and knowledge they need to succeed and discuss those that the IMD MBA education focuses on.

Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee to know which has not been covered elsewhere in this application? If you would like to comment on career gaps, education, GMAT/GRE, a disability or illness, please use this space. (Optional) [300 words]

Now that the IMD application is so short, it seems inevitable that critical experiences have been left out. Even if you have to write about a career/education gap or test score issue, I recommend doing so briefly to allow you to cover another success story in this essay. The goal of using this space is to share another facet of your background and convince the admissions team that you have a wealth of interesting experiences to share with the class.   

Administrative questions:

Your responses to these questions will not be taken into consideration in the admissions process. 

1.  How do you intend to finance your MBA at IMD? What would your budget be?  [300 words]

Funding the MBA is expensive, and IMD wants to know that you have considered this before you embark. 300 words is ample space to elaborate on your financial resources.

2.  Why are you applying to IMD? What other programs have you considered / are you considering? [300 words]

While the header for this section informs applicants that their responses will not be taken into consideration in the admissions process, I highly recommend going into detail about what makes IMD an ideal program for you. Go ahead and share the insight that you have gained from current students and alumni about what makes IMD special. The second element of the question is useful for IMD to know who their peers are, which helps them tweak their own marketing and recruiting efforts.

Application deadlines are at 23:59 pm CET (Switzerland) time in the following order:

Within a maximum of 6 weeks, you will be informed whether you have been selected to be interviewed for further evaluation or if your application has been unsuccessful.

February 1
April 1
June 1
August 1
September 1

If you would like professional guidance with your IMD MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and consulting  or our application package which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the IMD MBA application. Sign up now through the end of February and get an additional 10% off.

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Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes
Maximizing Your MBA Application: 5 Tips for Succinct Essays
• Business and Science Meet: Insights of an IMD Grad and Former Medical Doctor 

NUS MBA 2015 Essay Tips

See other school specific b-school essay tips! National University of Singapore (NUS) hosts approximately 100 students each year in its full-time MBA program – 91% of those students come from outside of Singapore, representing 18 countries. The curriculum concentrates on global business with a focus on Asia in particular, and the program successfully places graduates in a variety of functions: 22% of the class enters consulting, 24% finance/accounting, 14% general management, 22% sales/marketing (with the remainder entering HR, Operations, and other functions).

Contrary to the global trend, NUS has not reduced the number of essay questions it asks of applicants this year. My tips are below in blue.

NUS has some short answer questions that you need to address, including:

Why is it important for you to embark on your MBA now?  [500 characters]

This is a very brief (500 characters is about 5 lines of typical text) opportunity for you to explain what is happening in your professional and personal life that make now the right time to pursue this education and what business skills and knowledge you need to reach the goals you have set before you.

Essays

1.  We would like you to tell us about your post-MBA immediate career goals and how your professional experiences have prepared you to achieve these goals. You may do so by a 300 words written essay or a two-minute video.

If you feel comfortable in front of a camera or know how to create fun graphic videos, the two-minute video offers you an opportunity to say a lot more than the 300-word essay can (in a practice session, I was able to read 430+ words with a calm, storytelling demeanor in the 2 minutes).  Once you’ve decided on the delivery medium, the content of this essay will be straightforward: NUS wants to hear what job you will aiming for when you graduate and what skills and network you have already gained that have prepared you for that path.

2.  The mission of NUS Business School is to advance knowledge and develop leaders so as to serve business and society. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities.  [300 words]

The phrasing of this question can be confusing, but what they are really asking for here are examples from your past when you advanced the mission of a business, organization, or society at large. Ideally, your examples of advancing a business will also have some benefit to society – minimizing waste, improving relationships with the surrounding community, for example – but that isn’t a requirement.  

Given the word limit, you probably could provide 2-3 examples.

3.   (Only applicable to re-applicants) Please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please do also explain your motivation for re-applying to NUS. [300 words]

This is a gift to re-applicants: you’re being granted 300 extra words to make the case that you are ready for the NUS education. Briefly comment on any improvement in your GMAT score and/or GPA, then shine the spotlight on the ways in which you have developed your leadership skills and made a greater impact on your company or community since you last applied. How has this year helped you see ever more clearly how the NUS MBA will help you reach your goals more quickly and effectively?

4.  Tell us something interesting or unique about yourself which you think would be helpful for the Admission Committee to better evaluate your candidacy. [300 words]

I have a love-hate relationship with open-ended questions like this: on the one hand they are great for people with something truly unique in their background that doesn’t fit into any of the traditional MBA application essays; on the other hand, they strike intense fear in the hearts of most applicants in need of a more direct question!

As you analyze your profile, identify the one aspect that best distinguishes you from your peers: are you a great leader, community activist, analyst, athlete, or team builder? You may wish to ask your boss, peers, and friends what they think is really special about you, but you should only write the essay about a quality that is beneficial to the NUS program. Talking about something superfluous like your cooking skills or antique collection isn’t useful unless you use that skill to build community or make an impact in some way.

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

Full-Time NUS MBA Application Dates

NUS deadlines

 
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Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right
NUS: A Small But Mighty Academic Powerhouse in Asia
An NUS MBA Shares Her Story

ESADE MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Esade PicThe ESADE (pronounced eh-SAH-day) MBA program in Barcelona, Spain, is a great option for applicants looking for a program that requires fewer than 2 years out of the job market but also provides an internship and even an international exchange option. ESADE offers a 12-month MBA, a 15-month option that includes an internship or exchange program, and an 18-month option that includes both an internship and an international exchange opportunity. Graduates do well: 91% secure a position within 3 months of graduating, increasing their salaries by an average of 67% over their pre-MBA earnings. This really is an international student body: the 170 students in the class of 2013 hailed from 43 countries, and 60% of them choose to work outside of Spain upon graduation.

Attach your CV or Resume: The ESADE application form does not prompt the applicant to describe his/her accomplishments in each position, but allows space for a job description for each role. Savvy applicants will make sure that their resume/CV highlights the initiatives they led and the impact they made in each role.

Personal essays (Each question is limited to 2000 characters including spaces, 30 lines approximately.) Frankly, in my experience, 2000 characters is only approximately 20 lines, around 300 words for each essay. My tips are below in blue.

1.  Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this?
ESADE provides a “transformative” experience, but to benefit from it fully, students must be open to transforming. This essay provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you recognize areas in which you can improve, and then take action to do so. Among the most important aspects to ESADE are leadership, teamwork, and organizational skills. The second part of the question is asking for applicants to analyze what enabled them to make these improvements: personality traits, introspection, trusted mentors, and even a comprehensive professional evaluation system may be among the tools that applicants have found most useful. Sharing a story or two in this essay that show both the improvement and the tools/values at work will engage the reader and set a tone of interest for your entire application.

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2.  How will your background, values and non work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have accomplished)
ESADE has only 170 students in each class, so each of them must be active to create a lively campus. This essay offers applicants an opportunity to demonstrate how they have helped create community in the past – on campus, in professional and social organizations, in their neighborhood, even in their family life. If an example from a professional environment is the one that best illustrates a personal quality, then, yes, feel free to use it.

3.  What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals?
This is a standard goals question. Applicants need to demonstrate that their goals are ambitious but fully realizable. Anyone whose goals are not seen as reasonable cannot be accepted because they will graduate unhappy at the discovery of that reality – after losing 12-18 months of their lives and €60,000 of their hard-earned (or borrowed!) money.

4.  Complete two of the following four questions or statements (1000 characters per response)

a.  I am most proud of…
b.  People may be surprised to learn that I…
c.  What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?
d.  Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
All of these essay prompts aim to discover any interesting aspects of your background, both professional and personal. These provide applicants a chance to round out the admissions committee’s understanding of who they are, what obstacles they have faced in their lives, and what they’ve accomplished. These are very brief essays of approximately 150 words each.

5.  Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information.
If you need to explain any of the standard issues – your direct manager doesn’t know you’re applying so you couldn’t ask him to write a recommendation, you completed your coursework in December but did not receive your diploma until the following May, etc. – then this is the place to make those clarifications. If you do not need to use this space for any of those mundane topics, then feel free to fill it with an example of your leadership, maturity, or innovation to provide further evidence of your fit with ESADE.

If you would like professional guidance with your ESADE MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the ESADE application.  Sign up now through the end of February and get an additional 10% off.

THE MBA ADMISSIONS TIMELINE

In order to secure a place on the Full Time MBA and an ESADE Scholarship, we strongly recommend applying early. Taking the visa application process into consideration, we recommend that non-EU citizens submit their completed application no later than (15 June 2015).
Have our MBA admissions experts critique your ESADE application!

Applications should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CET (Central European Time) on the date in question. Applications are considered complete once the Online Application and all supporting documents have been received.

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Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs with their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 16 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Why ESADE: An Interview with An Admitted Student
Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right
Leadership in Admissions

CEIBS 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here for more school-specific MBA essay tips!

Demonstrate that your goals fit the range of outcomes for the CEIBS program.

CEIBS (China Europe International Business School, pronounced “Seebs”), located in Shanghai, is the longest-running MBA program in China, boasting the largest MBA alumni pool in China and over 10,000 alumni around the world. Ranked by the Financial Times as the best in China and 11th in the world, the program focuses on endowing students with a global business perspective plus a local Chinese cultural understanding. The curriculum places a great emphasis on understanding international business and how to apply these skills in China, in particular on endowing students with soft skills like interpersonal communication, strategy development, and an integrated management perspective that allows graduates to solve challenging business problems across functional business lines. Program graduates seem to do quite well: the average salary for graduates after 3 years is over $149,000.

CEIBS’s essay questions can cause some anxiety because of the choices applicants have for questions 2 and 3.

My comments and advice are in blue below:

1. Discuss your post-MBA career aspirations and explain how you plan to achieve them. (300 words) *

This is a straightforward career goal question. You need to demonstrate that your goals fit the range of outcomes for the CEIBS program: if your expectations are not aligned, the admissions committee cannot accept you since you will graduate unhappy – and possibly unemployed!

The second part of the question about how you plan to achieve these goals is also critical: you must demonstrate your insight into the skills and knowledge you will gain from the CEIBS program and also your understanding of the network, pavement pounding, and ladder climbing that you will need to do to reach your goals.

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2. For question 2(a) and 2(b), you only need to answer one of the two questions.

2(a). CEIBS is situated in Shanghai – a truly global city, and the economic center of the world’s fastest growing economy. Given its unique location, how do you anticipate that Shanghai will differentiate your MBA experience and contribute to your goals? (400 words) *

Applicants excited to learn in Shanghai will do well to answer this question since their passion will be reflected in their response. CEIBS’s location in Shanghai allows it to offer experiential learning programs with many companies that have corporate offices in the city. CEIBS also hosts many local companies for on-campus presentations and recruiting; professors are experts in the Chinese economy, finance, and politics; and important personages are able to speak on campus because of its location. Demonstrate not only your knowledge of these rich offerings but also how they will help you reach your learning and career goals.

2(b). Discuss a situation where you have demonstrated significant leadership ability. (400 words) *

This is a nice straightforward leadership question. Applicants who choose to answer this question should discuss a situation in which they summoned exceptional contributions from others to overcome challenging obstacles and produce extraordinary results. Given CEIBS’s focus on international business and China context, if you have a choice of a situation that took place in Asia – or required an understanding of cultural differences with team members from/in Asia, that might be the ideal anecdote to share.

3. For question 3(a) and 3(b), you only need to answer one of the two questions.

3(a). Many would argue that entrepreneurship is not necessarily a state of being, but a state of mind. Describe an entrepreneurial experience where you went against the grain or conventional way of thinking, to discover and create new value. (400 words). *

The premise of this essay is that entrepreneurship is a state of mind: it isn’t necessarily just starting a business but may also describe a situation in which you introduce something that didn’t exist before. People with entrepreneurial mindsets start new business streams in their current companies, they see opportunities and they seize them. Applicants who have an experience in which they thought outside of the box to generate value will do well to share those anecdotes here.

3(b). Identify up to 3 trends, big or small, that you see unfolding in the next decade. Discuss how the(se) trend(s) will affect you and how you plan to deal with them both on campus and in the future. (400 words) *

Look into your crystal ball – and/or read what global pundits are predicting – and choose three trends that will affect you professionally and/or personally. A strong answer to this question will not only discuss the trend but will try to determine the ways in which it will affect how consumers use products, how those products are distributed, and how the CEIBS curriculum and extracurricular programming will help prepare the applicant to thrive in these changing environments. This essay may also draw on past experiences in which you recognized and capitalized on an emerging trend.

4. (Optional) Is there any other information that you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admission Committee in evaluating your application?(200 words). Re-applicants are suggested to describe the progress you have made since your previous application.

If you feel that the above essays provide a full picture of your experiences, then there is no need to write anything here. However, I never like to leave space unfilled. Assess the answers you provide in the required essays and identify an area of your background that you weren’t able to include elsewhere: your intercultural ability, your success in an extracurricular activity – particularly since the application form only allows you to list the names of the activities you have taken part in with no description of your roles in them – or an explanation of decisions you have made in your career path are just some of the many interesting facets of your background you can share here. I encourage you to use this space fully.

Application Form:

Keep in mind that CEIBS does not request a copy of your current CV/resume in the application. The only area of the application where an applicant may describe his work experience is in the Work Experience section, which requests data about dates of employment and salary and allows 40 words each for 4 responsibilities to describe each position (that’s approximately 160 words to describe each role). This is actually a fine amount of space; just be sure to use it to describe your work and impact. Don’t make the mistake of simply filling in some general responsibilities and losing the opportunity to share details about your initiatives and impacts.

If you would like professional guidance with your CEIBS MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the CEIBS application. Sign up now through the end of February and get an additional 10% off.

Application for entry into the MBA2017 is round based. The MBA Admissions Office will process applications according to the below dates. The final application deadline for admission is Mar. 23, 2015.

Round

Application Deadline

Decision by

1

Nov. 5, 2014

Dec. 10, 2014

2

Jan. 14, 2015

Mar. 11, 2015

3

Mar. 23, 2015

Apr. 29, 2015

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Jennifer Bloom

By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

• School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
• Why MBA? 
• 7 Signs an Experience Belongs in Your Application Essays

HKUST 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

HKUST aims to educate global leaders with cultural insight and strong Chinese business understanding. HKUST prides itself on the large percentage of career function and industry changes that its graduates are able to make: 77% of grads switch job functions and 67% change industries from their pre-MBA role after HKUST. Its essay questions aim to understand your goals and what you can contribute to the class. My tips are in blue below:

Essay Questions: 

1. Tell us about your short-term and long-term career goals after the MBA, and why you think HKUST MBA would be a good fit for you. (max 7500 characters, ~500 words)

To answer this question well, you need to know what direction you want to take your career in after the MBA. While a career change is likely, applicants need to convey how their career and experiences until now have prepared them for these ambitions. They must also explain how the HKUST MBA will complement those experiences to enable them to succeed in reaching and performing well in their target roles. To explain why HKUST’s curriculum is a good fit for you will require an understanding of HKUST’s three-tiered core curriculum and insight into some of the areas you will want to explore in the 40+% of the HKUST MBA that are electives. And it will almost certainly require some discussion of why the Chinese context, global perspectives, and management insight that HKUST offers will be critical to your advancement.

2. Our mission is to inspire and transform individuals to be future business leaders for Asia and the world. We embrace diversity, and are looking for ambitious and open-minded candidates with a passion to contribute. With your background and professional experience, what unique values can you bring in to enrich the learning experience at HKUST MBA? (max 7500 characters, ~500 words)

With just 100-120 students each year, HKUST aims to include a diverse range of backgrounds and industries in the class. You don’t want to be pigeon-holed as a generic consultant or financier: you need to demonstrate in this essay that you are a worldly candidate with experiences that your classmates will be eager to hear about and learn from – and that you have the personal qualities that will allow you to share those experiences. The best essays will include two or three examples of values adhered to, experiences gained, and/or achievements accomplished that demonstrate that you are ambitious, possess a wealth of experience, and are personable.

Application form:

Keep in mind that HKUST does not have a place to upload your current CV/resume. The only area of the application where you may describe your work experience is in the Work Experience section of the application, which requests data about dates of employment and salary and allows 1000 characters to describe each position (that’s approximately 150 words to describe each role). This is actually a fine amount of space; just be sure to use it to describe your work and impact. Don’t make the mistake of simply filling in some general responsibilities and losing the opportunity to share details about your initiatives and impacts.

If you would like professional guidance with your HKUST 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 HKUST application.

The HKUST MBA program intake 2015 will start in August 2015.

Below is the admissions timetable:

Application Deadline Decision Notification
 Round 1  November 13, 2014  January 9, 2015
 Round 2  January 13, 2015  March 13, 2015
 Round 3  March 13, 2015  May 8, 2015

*International students requiring student visa to study in Hong Kong are strongly recommended to apply for the first or second round to allow sufficient time for visa application once they are admitted.

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Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

• Why MBA?
• 2015 MBA Application Essay Tips
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your MBA Application Essays