Interview with Arun Prasad: An Accepted EMBA Applicant

Download free: Against the Odds: MBA Admissions for Indian ApplicantsThis interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Arun Prasad who will be starting at IIM-Calcutta’s PGPEX-VLM Executive Program in the fall.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?

Arun: My name is Arun Prasad. I’m from Bangalore, India. I did my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from MVJ College of Engineering, Bangalore. I presently work for Cessna Aircraft Company in Bangalore. I have about 6 years of work experience in Design, Analysis and Manufacturing.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to IIM-Calcutta’s PGPEX-VLM Executive Program! Why did you choose that program? How is it the best program for you?

Arun: Thank you. I’ve always wanted to do a program that has a right balance between technical and management side of business. Something like a dual degree program. My initial Google search pointed me towards the MIT’s LGO (Leaders for Global Operations) and this happened to be my dream school. There were a couple of other schools like the Michigan Ross Tauber Institute and Kellogg’s MMM program and of course the PGPEX-VLM program.

I made a decision to choose PGPEX-VLM on various factors such as “Program Fit,” post MBA career goals, Batch size, Cost and Duration of the Program, Return on Investment, etc.

PGPEX-VLM (Visionary Leadership in Manufacturing) happens to be the perfect blend of technical competence along with right management and business skills. PGPEX-VLM is jointly conducted by IIM-Calcutta, IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras along with few industry consortiums like the CII, JICA and the governments of India and Japan.

IIM-Calcutta, which is one of the country’s best and oldest B-school imparts the Business and Management skills whereas the IIT’s, which is the country’s best technical institution (IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Madras) imparts the technical skills. So, PGPEX-VLM just happened to be the right program for me and I did not apply anywhere else.

Accepted: What is your current job? Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA — will you stay in your current industry and move to another field?

Arun: I work as a Manufacturing Engineer for Cessna. I do the Process Planning for Aircraft Sheet metal components and assemblies. It’s a purely technical role that I am in. Somewhere within me there is an itching that I want to do something more than planning how to manufacture Aircraft parts. I felt I must be associated with an operations role or on the strategy side of business. Though I work as a part of the Integrated Supply Chain in Cessna, I’m not involved in making Supply Chain decisions. This is when I gave a thought of doing a MBA and PGPEX-VLM happened to be the right program for me.

Post MBA, I would wish to venture into the Supply Chain side of business and I’m looking at few consulting positions as well. One of the reasons I chose Supply Chain is that, irrespective of industry, there are always challenges. I am highly interested in Defense Procurement as well.

Accepted: Can you talk about your experience with online courses? How has taken MOOCs influenced your Executive MBA goals?

Arun: Online courses are really cool. It all started when I saw a TED talk show of Daphne Koller (Founder of Coursera). Being a working professional, I’ve always felt the need to learn and keep learning. These MOOCs are a boon for working professionals. It is such a great platform to take the world’s best course, right at your home, at your convenience, and for free!! I signed up for a couple of courses from Wharton, University of Michigan and Stanford and I was awed. The same course is taught by the same professors for regular full time MBA students at top b-schools though a little variations do exists considering class size.

I’m the kind of a person who first likes to try and then decide. I took these MOOCs to have a firsthand experience of what to expect in a b-school and whether the subjects/concepts resonate with my thinking. It did. So, taking these MOOC has had an influence in my decision to pursue an MBA program.

Accepted: What would you say was your greatest challenge in the application process? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?

Arun: PGPEX-VLM is one unique program and so is the application. Apart from regular MBA application elements like test scores, essays, and interviews, PGPEX-VLM has a aptitude test that tests the candidates on the fundamentals of Engineering (after all, it’s a techno-managerial program). The aptitude test had a wide range of topics from higher mathematics, to differentiation and integration to matrices and statistics to mechanical engineering to electronics to electrical engineering to even computer science concepts. Pretty much everything that falls under engineering. This was my greatest challenge. So, I started reviewing my engineering fundamentals and my GRE preparation helped me the verbal and quant section. I also took help from my fiancé, Gayathri, who is pursuing her Masters in Electronics engineering to review electronics and electrical engineering fundamentals :). So, I had taken lot of time to review engineering fundamentals.

Another challenging area for me was essays. There were 2 essays and this was a challenging part for me. Firstly because I was very new to this and then there were tons of consultants who supposedly offer services for reviewing and editing essays for top b-schools. Going through the testimonials of these essay editing admission consultants was quite intimating. The only investment I did was I bought MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham. I think instructions in that are pretty clear and straightforward. I read that book a hundred times before I drafted my essays and kept fine-tuning it for a month. I showed it to my family and got their feedback. My father-in-law’s feedback proved to be highly useful and many changes were incorporated based on his suggestions. So, to review essays, one need not really take help of essay editing services. Family and friends could offer the best critique and sometimes bring in a fresh look that sometimes others easily miss out.

Accepted: Can you share some EMBA application tips with our readers? What are some tools or resources that you used to help guide you through the process?

Arun: 1. Self Introspection: Before choosing to do a MBA/EMBA program, a lot of introspection is to be done. There is a significant amount of cost and time involved in a MBA program. So, it’s worth to do introspection till we find clear answers. Just keep asking yourself if an MBA is something that you really want to do. Why MBA? Why not something else? Why now? What would happen if I didn’t do an MBA? This type of introspection and self-interrogation could lead to some clear answers.

2. B-School Selection Matrix: We all know that top b-schools follow a holistic approach in selecting candidates for their programs. Like, no admission decision is made solely on GPA or GMAT score or essays. Similarly, while choosing a program, as candidates, we need to have a holistic and a realistic approach, not just ranking of the b-school. Various factors to consider for a b-school before joining is whether it’s a one-year MBA or a two-year MBA, location (India or abroad), class size, class diversity, post MBA goals, “Program Fit”, cost of the program, return on investment. I had written a blog post titled “B-School Selection Matrix” in which I evaluate various b-schools of my choice and make a qualitative decision. It’s like, I design my own personalized b-school rankings.

3. Profile Building: The decision to pursue an MBA most likely shouldn’t be an overnight decision and it’s not possible to build an MBA profile overnight. I think profile building should be the first step in preparing your b-school application even ahead of taking the GMAT. You just need to get into the league of MBA applications, be aware of various schools, follow admission officers’ blogs and even applicant and student blogs, sign up for newsletters, etc. I had written a blog post titled “MBA profile Building” on this. Those who have weak communication can sign up for few courses to improve communication. Those having problems with GMAT should change their browser home page to Those who haven’t had a chance to display leadership skills at their workplace, may choose to organize a few events or show leadership skills in other events, like even sports. So, profile building is a long evolving process and one must start early and invest time on this.

When it comes to resources, I had purchased MBA Admission for Smarties by Linda Abraham. This book is great. I had also purchased Beyond MBA Hype by Sameer Kamat. There are some great resources out there on the net. I religiously followed blogs and used to attend several webinars. So, following these blogs, network of current students, following the newsletters of your target schools, following admission officer’s blog – these are some priceless resources and one must make use of these as much as possible.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?

Arun: The idea and thought that I must write a blog can be attributed to I have seen several hundred applicant bloggers and student bloggers who have been sharing their experience. So, I decided to have my own blog.

I don’t have a target audience as such, but I write about GRE, higher education, MBA, MOOC, etc. So, if anyone is thinking about writing their own blog and needs some source of inspiration – they are my target audience!!

I have largely benefited from reading these blogs. Reading these blogs and the experiences have kept me going at difficult times and they serve as a source of motivation. Learning from others experience is one of the best learning ever. I follow a lot of applicant bloggers and benefit from their blog. So, this has been my biggest benefit from blogging.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.

You can read more about Arun’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Aroundynamics.  Thank you Arun for sharing your story with us!

MBA admissions tips for Indian applicants! [Download Free]

2015 Best Business Schools Ranked by U.S. News

Check out our MBA Admissions 101 pages!U.S. News released its annual best b-school rankings, and we’re here to provide all the top rankings all in one spot!

2015 Best MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. Harvard Business School (1)
1. Stanford GSB (2)
1. Wharton (3)
4. Chicago Booth (6)
5. MIT Sloan (4)
6. Northwestern Kellogg (4)
7. UC Berkeley – Haas (7)
8. Columbia (8)
9. Dartmouth Tuck (9)
10. NYU Stern (10)

2015 Best Executive MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. Wharton (1)
2. Chicago Booth (2)
3. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
4. Duke Fuqua (4)
5. Columbia (4)
6. NYU Stern (6)
7. Michigan Ross (8)
8. UCLA Anderson (7)
9. UC Berkeley – Haas (10)
9. UNC Kenan-Flagler (9)
11. USC Marshall

2015 Best Part-Time MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. UC Berkeley – Haas (1)
2. Chicago Booth (2)
3. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
4. NYU Stern (4)
4. UCLA Anderson (5)
6. Texas McCombs (7)
7. Michigan Ross (6)
8. Indiana Kelley (9)
9. Ohio State Fisher (8)
10. CMU Tepper (9)

Wondering how much rankings should play a roll in determining where you apply? Watch the video below for Linda Abraham’s answer:

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Tips for Executive MBA Reapplicants

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA: Expert Advice for the Rising Executive

Work on putting together that “superstar” profile.

If you have been rejected from an Executive MBA program, it often comes down to one of three reasons (or combination thereof):

1) Your academic record was not strong enough to convince the admissions committee you could handle the rigor of an EMBA program,

2) Your work experience was not sufficient/relevant enough yet to be considered a solid addition to the program, or,

3) You did not show adequate interest in the program to warrant an offer of admission.

All of these reasons can be mitigated, with time or effort on your part. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee of admission, but by taking a hard look and assessing your situation, you can make yourself a much stronger candidate by addressing the pertinent issues.

Academic Record

A low GPA in and of itself is not a reason to ding an applicant. What tends to concern schools is when a transcript shows consistently low grades in subjects that are important to have competence in to do well in an MBA program – quantitative subjects in particular. If you do have quantitative weakness, enroll in an Algebra or Statistics course (or both) at a local college – a “real” class as opposed to online would be preferred. Get strong grades, and submit that transcript with your new application. In the optional essay, express how you recognize the admissions committee might have been concerned about your quantitative abilities, but the new grades should allay any concerns. Also lay out any additional plans you may have prior to joining the program to bolster your skills – MBA Math, for example.

Work Experience

In this situation, time and more leadership experience are probably the two best ways to enhance your application. The average years of work experience in an EMBA program is typically 10-15. Some schools specifically state the minimum years of experience necessary to apply. While I was at Cornell, we never seriously considered anyone with less than five years of experience, and when we did admit someone on that lower end of the scale, there was a clear indication the individual was a superstar at his or her organization. So, if you are in the lower range of experience, seek out more high-profile leadership opportunities, and work on putting together that “superstar” profile.

Program Interest

Admissions committees realize most applicants consider multiple options, as they should, and most have a clear first choice school. What tends to bother admissions folks is when it’s obvious an applicant is only applying to a school because it’s a brand name and would be an “ok” fallback.

How can they tell an applicant’s lack of interest? It’s pretty easy – never came to an information session, never visited the campus, never reached out to anyone on the admissions committee, and/or put reasons like “location” and “reputation” in their essay as to why he/she would like to come to the school. With EMBA classes quite small compared to fulltime programs, it is a distinct possibility an applicant with stellar qualifications could be dinged – why offer a spot to someone who clearly has no real interest in attending? If you feel this might be why you were rejected, this reason can be mitigated or eliminated as well. Reach out to admissions committee members and ask questions that show you’ve both done your homework and are thinking seriously about their school. Start sending signals indicating your sincere interest.

Not sure where your application might be lacking? The good news about most Executive MBA programs is that with smaller applicant pools, admissions officers typically have more time to devote to individual applicants. Therefore, make a call and see if you can receive feedback on your application.

Furthermore we here at Accepted are always available to provide a critical analysis of your EMBA application and help you develop a game plan for the future.

Download our free special report

Jennifer WeldJen Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.

Kellogg Launches EMBA Program in Beijing

Learn how to Create an Outstanding Application to Top Executive MBA Programs

This week Kellogg announced the launch of its new EMBA program in collaboration with the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in Beijing and Shanghai.

The new program will join the ranks of other Kellogg’s EMBA global network partnerships (including HKUST in Hong Kong, York University in Toronto, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and programs in Miami and Chicago).

The Guanghua-Kellogg program is a 22-month program commencing in September 2014, and is designed for executives with 8-10 years of experience.

The curriculum will cover topics on the following themes:

• Megatrends and opportunities
• Analytical skills and decision-making
• Strategic leadership
• Globalization
• Understanding stakeholders

Dean Sally Blount says about the new partnership:

We’re thrilled to partner with the Guanghua School of Management to provide executive-level management education in China. Through our unique global EMBA network, which will now include Guanghua, we offer students a distinctive learning experience, preparing them to lead in the complex global economy.

See the Kellogg press release for more details.

Learn how to Create an Outstanding Application to Top Executive MBA Programs

Cornell 2014 Executive MBA 2014 Essay Tips

Cornell JohnsonThe Cornell Executive MBA Program has three required essay questions and one optional question in its application.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is brevity. While no one is going to be counting individual words, the guideline of short word count is a clear indicator to work on clarity of thought with all of your answers. Cornell interviews every applicant to its program, so if you are concerned that your answers are too concise in essay format, rest assured you will have the opportunity to discuss them further in the interview.

1. In a concise statement, indicate why you are seeking admission into an Executive MBA Program. Specifically, what are your short and long-term career goals? And, how will an MBA from Johnson at Cornell University help you achieve your goals? (Please limit your response to 400 words.)*

The first part of this question asks “Why EMBA?” By making the choice to go after an EMBA, you are of course signaling you will keep your job while going to school. Therefore, be sure to link your past/current career experience with your short and long term goals in the context of how (and why) this type of format works best for you. When answering the “Why Cornell?” portion of the question, be convincing about the reasons Cornell is the best choice for you, and show you have done your homework – “location” and “reputation” won’t cut it. The admissions committee wants to know what you anticipate the program will be like, what you will get out of it, how the program fits with your career vision, and what the entire experience means to you as a person.

2. A key benefit of being in an Executive MBA Program is having the ability to learn from your classmates, or peers. How will you contribute to this learning environment? Specifically, what unique strengths and experiences will you bring to both the class and your learning team? (Please limit your response to 250 words.)*

The admissions committee is looking for students who will enrich the class with their contributions as much as the curriculum taught. Focus on unique experiences you have had either in your professional or personal life, and if possible, link those experiences to how they will contribute to particular courses or topics.

Imagine that the admissions committee is reviewing your application side by side with someone with a similar basic profile to yours (technology consultant, for example) – what will make them choose you?

3. List your participation in civic, business, or professional organizations.

This question is purposely open to interpretation. If you would just like to list what organizations you are affiliated with that is fine, however if you would like to go into some detail about particular activities that are important to you, that is good, too. There is no word limit, however the more succinct, the better.

4. (Optional): Do you believe your academic record is an accurate reflection of your ability? If not, please explain, limiting the response to 250 words or less.

If you are hoping the admissions committee will miss the fact that you flunked algebra three times before passing, or you had to withdraw for a semester, think again. The committee WILL catch whatever that nagging something is that concerns you from your transcript, so here is the opportunity to talk about it. Be as candid as possible! It is much better to be upfront about the situation here than be on the defensive about it in an interview.

Want to learn how to ace your EMBA applications?

Jennifer Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.

NYU Stern Executive MBA 2014 Essay Tips

NYU_SternReflecting the character of the university at large, NYU Stern has always sought applicants who bring not just requisite accomplishment, but also intellectual energy and engagement with the world – people who have a point of view and are willing to express it. Stern’s EMBA essay questions are consistent with these values. While they cover the standard concerns, they also draw out your ability to self-reflect and to understand yourself in relation to others. The key to acing these essays is not just to write competent and logical essays, but also to present a point of view, a message, a distinctive perspective that will enrich the EMBA community at NYU Stern. 


Applicants are required to respond to essay prompts 1, 2 and 3. The following essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes. Your essays should be written entirely by you. Please note the following:

Please adhere to the essay word limits provided for each question. Word limits apply to the total essay question. For example, your response to Essay 2 should answer both part (a) and part (b) with a maximum of 750 words.

1. Describe your short- and long-term career goals and how the NYU Stern Executive MBA program will help you accomplish them. (500-750 words, double-spaced) 

One simple, straightforward, and effective way to structure this essay is to start with where you are in your career now. This opening  sets the context and conveys a little about your current situation, emphasizing what is impressive and/or distinctive about it. Then discuss how the EMBA education will enable you to achieve your immediate goals in your current role and  later your intermediate and longer-term goals, which should logically flow out of this present role.

In describing your goals, clarify why you would take that step or pursue that role. In discussing how the program will benefit you, be specific: describe the skills and knowledge you need to acquire and how the program provides them. Also refer to the structure, curriculum, and/or special features of the program, noting how you will benefit from them. Finally, resist the temptation to detail your career progress — limit yourself to points relevant to your goals.

2. High functioning study groups help to navigate the academics of the NYU Stern Executive MBA program. Students are placed in groups of four to six students, each with a diverse mix of professional backgrounds and skill sets. (500-750 words, double-spaced)

a) What role(s) do you see yourself playing within your study group?

b) What can your group learn from you?

Think about your strengths as a team member – and identify a few actual, illustrative examples from your work (at least one fairly recent).  Use these examples as the basis for answering (a). 

Part (b) allows you to be more wide-ranging in your chosen points; i.e., you might discuss not just your team performance but other aspects of your work.  Perhaps the group can benefit from some specific aspects of your industry practices, or from your experience in a geographic region, as well as from things like your teamwork and leadership.  However, don’t just assert that they can learn from this or that experience; discuss the potential lessons.

3. The NYU Stern Executive MBA program’s curriculum is designed with a strong global focus. Stern is committed to helping students develop a deeper set of professional skills, and a broader perspective of the role of business in the world. (500-750 words, double-spaced)

a) What is a significant contemporary issue on which you, as a business leader, would like to have an impact?

b) Why is it important to you?

c) How could you leverage your skills and resources to address the issue?

The most important advice here: select an issue that you truly care and are knowledgeable about. You may research some fine points, but responses to this question that are entirely constructed of research on a topic don’t work.

A simple and effective structure for this essay is to follow the a-b-c points. First talk about the issue in personal as well as objective terms, i.e., how you came to learn and/or care about it, perhaps what experience you’ve had with it if relevant. Take a stand; avoid being bland or abstract. Then describe how as a business leader you can address this issue in concrete terms. This last part will vary greatly from person to person – for some your work will directly address this issue; for others work will be divorced from it, and you will indirectly use your business leadership role as a bully pulpit, as a prominent and influential community leader/volunteer, etc.

Optional Additional Essays:

Optional Additional Essay:

Please provide any additional information of which you would like the Admissions Committee to be aware. This may include additional details on your academic/quantitative preparedness through educational or professional experience, further explanation of academic history, current or past gaps in employment, or any other information relevant to your application. (500 word limit, double-spaced)

This question’s wording indicates that you can use it not just to explain a problem (low GMAT, employment gap) but also to present new material that you think will enhance your application. However, if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there should be a darn good reason; not just a nice-to-know.

First, succinctly explain any points that need explaining. Then, if there is something you feel is important that you haven’t had a chance to discuss elsewhere, write about it, noting why it’s essential to a full understanding of your candidacy.

Optional Scholarship Essay:

The NYU Stern Executive MBA program offers a limited number of scholarships each year to applicants receiving minimal or no financial sponsorship. There are many more qualified candidates than there are scholarships available. Scholarships are determined at the time of admission and communicated in the letter of admission if awarded. If you wish to be considered for a scholarship, please respond to the following:

Why should the Admissions Committee invest in you as a business leader?

This essay is essentially your portrait – your candidacy at a glance. Do not just list accomplishments that repeat your resume, repeat qualities described in essay 2, or repeat the goals in the goals essay. Also, don’t present every possible reason you think the adcom should invest in you.  Focus on points that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly and also (c) enhance rather than repeat the application. Developing an overarching message or theme for this essay before you write it will help you shape and select the content.

If you would like help with these NYU EMBA essays, please consider Accepted’s EMBA admissions consulting and EMBA essay editing services.

DeadlinesApplications to Stern’s Executive MBA Program are considered on a rolling basis.

For the class beginning in August: early deadline is March 1, final deadline is May 1.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with

The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders

Listen to the full interview!Do you need an advanced business education, but a full time MBA isn’t a good option for you? There is a fabulous option that you just may not have heard about yet.

Want to know more?

Listen to the recording of our recent interview with Mike Hochleutner – Director of the Stanford MSx Program, Stanford’s ‘one-year, full-time Masters of Science degree program for experienced leaders.’

00:02:31 – Stanford’s MSx program: What it is, whom it’s for, and how it came about.

00:05:58 – The evolution of the program & the influence of entrepreneurship.

00:10:23 – What the name change signified.

00:12:42 – Recent improvements to the program.

00:14:16 – Places to go and people to meet: the MSx trips.

00:20:28 – What the Stanford MSx Fellows have in common.

00:24:14 – The difference between the Stanford MBA and the MSx program.

00:27:54 – Career changing and career services.

00:34:19 – Sponsored students and career resources.

00:36:04 – 3 tips for developing leadership qualities in yourself.

00:41:58 – Want to apply to the MSx program? Here is what they are looking for.

00:47:27 – Goals! Why you need to know why you are doing what you are doing.

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know.

*Theme music is courtesy of

Relevant Links:

•  Ace the EMBAa free special report.
•  Executive MBA Application Essay Tips for Top Programs
•  Stanford Graduate School School of Business
Stanford MSx for Experienced Leaders

Related Shows:

•  Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
•  Global Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
•  Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship
•  Interview with Anne Perigo, UM Master in Entrepreneurship
Interview with Duke’s Sheryle Dirks

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:

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2014 Kellogg Executive MBA Admissions Tips

Check out our MBA Admissions 101 page!The Kellogg Executive MBA questions are among the most comprehensive, thorough, and numerous of any EMBA application. It takes significant effort to put together a strong set of Kellogg EMBA essays, and that fact weeds out potential students who are not seriously interested in this competitive program. Moreover, the questions encompass almost every basic type: goals, behavioral (the experience and your reflection on it), evaluative (greatest skills and talents). It offers more than one optional essay. This set of essays requires the writer to wear different hats and excel at different types of self-analysis. Not least, the messages and contents of the essays should be coordinated to strategically and holistically create a picture of you that is vivid, distinguishing, and multifaceted without being contradictory or jumbled. Note that there are no word limits, therefore use your judgment; don’t write all 1,000 word essays. Depending on the question and what you have to say, 400-750 is a good range to target.


JOB DESCRIPTION: Describe the unit for which you are responsible and relate it to the total organization in terms of size, scope, and autonomy of responsibility. What human resources, budget, and capital investment are you responsible for? Please describe your position.

A straightforward question – it contains several components, so be sure to answer all of them. Try to work in an anecdote or two somewhere, for example, if part of your role is to troubleshoot issues with global clients, give a brief example.

1. Why have you elected to apply to the Kellogg School Executive MBA Program?

This essay should discuss your interest in the Kellogg program as a means to acquire the learning you seek in light of your goals. Clarify why you are pursuing the executive program specifically. You can also discuss other benefits that relate to personal preferences such as environment and the program’s schedule, structure, and location. Be specific and add thoughtful discussion, don’t just reiterate points from the website. If possible, cite conversations with students or alumni, including relevant insights you’ve gained from them.

2. What are your goals and objectives and how will a Kellogg Executive MBA help you achieve these? Please feel free to discuss both personal and professional goals.

Discuss your goals in specific terms: industry, likely positions, which company or companies, possibly where, what you expect to do, possibly challenges you anticipate. Also discuss what you want to accomplish short- and long-term. To make the essay truly compelling, also show how your goals are rooted in your experience, what motivates your goals, and your vision for your goals. Finally, discuss the learning needs these goals engender and summarize how the Kellogg MBA meets them, saving the greater detail for essay 1.

3. Discuss a professional situation that did not end successfully. Why did you or your peers consider the situation to have negative results? How did you resolve the situation? Did it change your management style? If so, how?

In selecting the story to discuss, use something relatively recent (even though unsuccessful, it can still show you at work in an engaging context and at a decision making level with high accountability), and something substantive. Be frank about your role as it may have contributed to the lack of success. For structure, keep it simple: first tell the story, and then address the remaining questions. The last part, about how it may have changed your management style, is a good opportunity to show you’ve not only learned from the experience but applied the learning, by briefly citing a specific example of your improved management style.

4. What do you consider to be your greatest skills and talents? How will you use these to contribute to an Executive MBA class as well as to a study group?

First, what not to do: strain to find some unique skill or talent that no one else possesses in an effort to differentiate yourself. It doesn’t exist. Rather, look inward – whether it’s creativity, initiative, leadership, strategic thinking, interpersonal astuteness, analytic capability, mentoring/coaching – it’s the details and stories of how you manifest this quality that will make this essay exciting while strategically supporting and enhancing the other essays. Select 2-3 skills/talents that differ from each other (i.e., don’t do quant skills and analytic skills, or communication skills and interpersonal skills) and tell a quick story or anecdote illustrating each. Finally, for each, comment on how it will help you contribute by giving an example – these comments can be short, as they story itself will really convey how the skill or talent will let you contribute.

5. Describe how your relevant global experiences have influenced you professionally. (Optional)

This is a great essay for most people to answer – if you’ve had any global experience, it can only have influenced you professionally. If you’ve had a lot of global experiences, don’t just do a survey of them and don’t feel you must write about all of them. Select the most meaningful experiences and tell the stories, and then explaining the influence on you.

6. Is there anything else that you would like to add to help us in evaluating your candidacy? (Optional)

This question invites you to present new material that you think will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment). As far as non-necessary points, keep in mind that if you are making the adcom read more, there should be a clear value to the information. Finally, considering the many essays, keep it short.

7. Describe any major reports, instructional materials, or manuals that you have prepared or any research, inventions, or other creative work. (Optional)

Note, “major.” Do not wrack your brain for every report or training material you’ve contributed to. If you have numerous patents, ditto. Focus on the most important ones of whatever type of material you are describing. A nice format is an annotated bullet list.

8. Please list the business/professional/community organizations in which you are active. (Optional)

Note “are active.” Not “were active.”

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Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with

MBA Admissions Decisions: Should You Go Full-Time or Part-Time?

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Full-time or Part-time?

When I was applying to b-school, I contemplated part-time vs. full-time, and one of my best friends, Colleen, had to make the same decision at the same time.

Ultimately, I decided to attend the full-time program at the University of Michigan. Colleen decided to attend a part-time program at the University of Michigan. We shared 60% of the same classes, 40% of the same professors and even had a class together (Michigan offered, at the time, courses where they reserved half the registrations for full-time students and half the registrations for part-time students). Since that time, they dramatically changed the full-time curriculum and it is unlikely that we would overlap now like we did then. However, I graduated two years before Colleen with a unique internship, an opportunity to begin a new career and a lot of debt. Colleen advanced quickly with the company that hired her upon our graduation from college and graduated without debt because her company sponsored her education. We both have the same degree.

Now as an consultant and as a former Admissions Director and Dean of full-time, part-time and EMBA programs, I lend you my insight and guidance from the other side of the table in this brief analysis of programs.

Full-time programs: Traditional full-time programs are the media darlings of MBA programs. A school’s reputation relies mostly on its full-time program rankings. They consume the largest portion of the school’s budget, and they rarely make revenue for a school. More than 90% of all scholarships and fellowships are dedicated to full-time students. Full-time programs are perfect for career-changers in the 23-30 year old age range that can afford the opportunity cost of leaving work to immerse themselves in education and experience. If you choose this experience, you will feel like you are an undergraduate again with clubs and activities, but the workload will be greater. You will have access to on-campus recruiting (I always recommend you conduct your own off-campus job search in parallel with on-campus recruiting), company presentations, fellowships and scholarships and a lot of fun. Full-time students prioritize the job search and school. Family often gets the short stick, but there are typically resources to support a spouse. If you are single, it’s a great opportunity to form a romantic relationship. My grad school roommate found the love of her life in our core operations course.

Part-time programs: Part-time programs are the cash cow of MBA programs and have to live in the shadow of their smaller full-time counterpart. They take very few resources, but they often share the same faculty as the full-time program. Many professors would rather teach at night or on the weekend to lighten their teaching load and dedicate their days to research. Schools will also complement the faculty with adjuncts in part-time programs. Aggregated, the part-time applicant pool is not as competitive or as diverse in terms of admissions as schools typically receive fewer applications, and they are limited to their immediate region and the industries that dominate that industry. Furthermore, schools have the capacity to serve at least as many and often more students than their full-time counterpart.

As much as schools say the quality of the full-time students and the part-time students are the same, the quality is dependent on location and how that location generates applications. Bigger cities have an easier time of attracting great applicants to their part-time program and can maintain higher quality standards, but full-time programs generate applications from around the globe and it’s much easier to pick and choose candidates for admission.

Part-time programs are perfect for the 24-35 year old career enhancer, but rarely serve the career changer. Part-timers typically do not have the same access to comprehensive career services as full-time programs because company presentations and interviews are typically held during the day. At one school for whom I worked, we dedicated one career services staff member to all of our professional programs (part-time, EMBA, on-line) serving over 1000 students and 5 career services staff to the small 200-student full-time program.

Part-time students can often get full or partial sponsorship from their company lessening the financial burden, but do not typically have access to fellowships or scholarships from the school. It typically takes students longer than 2 years to complete a part-time program and part-time students prioritize work first, school second and again, family gets the short end stick. Part-time students often feel like the stepchild of the full-time counterparts.

EMBA programs: EMBA programs are also lucrative for schools, but they typically are not as large as full-time programs, and schools charge a premium to attend an EMBA program. They are perfect for students in the 30-year-old to 42-year-old age range that have been supervising employees and that have the support of their executive management to attend a program because executives view these students as fast-trackers in their company. These programs are typically held every other weekend and offer no fellowships or scholarships because schools expect the student’s company to sponsor the student partially or completely. EMBA students typically prioritize work first, family second and school last. While EMBA students may cross from technical supervisory roles to business supervisory roles in their companies, EMBA programs do not cater to the career changer only the career enhancer. Schools take care of their EMBA students for their tuition premium. However, these students rarely interact with either the part-time or full-time students, but bond well with their cohort and the faculty.

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

University of Virginia Darden Executive MBA 2014 Admissions Tips

UVA DardenGiven that the Darden EMBA application presents only one essay question to answer, the balance of your application – the online form, the resume, the recommendations, the interview – all carry even more weight than they do in most EMBA applications that contain several questions (usually including one pertaining to your goals).  The application as a whole must show that you are at the appropriate level in terms of organizational position and experience to both benefit from the Darden EMBA and contribute substantially to its program.  Moreover, to be competitive you should also show that you are a high performer relative to peers.  


Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself? (500 words maximum)  

The question may sound a bit daunting, but it is essentially asking for a story.  “Your thought process” is simply your narrating an experience – the story – through the lens of your perspective as it happened.  The “pivot points” – your decision points – are the most important points in this story, so when you get to these parts of the story, briefly include why you decided to do B.  After you complete the story narrative, culminating the outcome, add a short paragraph briefly explaining how this experience gave you insight about yourself – note what this new insight/learning is, and relate it back to the story. With only 500 words to work with, I suggest keeping the structure simple. Devote about the first two-thirds to telling the story, and conclude with the reflection.  This learning should be meaningful and significant – they are asking this question because they value your ability to grow and respond and adapt, and also your ability to self-critique and self-reflect. 

With only one essay, selecting the topic – the work situation or complex problem – should be done strategically.  The topic can show you advantageously – perhaps working in an underrepresented industry or function, or shouldering a difficult decision, or influencing executive decision makers, or grappling with issues of high importance.  It should be fairly recent.

UVA Darden EMBA Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decisions Released
Dec 15, 2013, Jan 30, 2014
Jan 15, 2014 Feb 28 2014
Feb 15, 2014 March 28 2014
March 15, 2014 April 30,2014
April 15, 2014 May 13, 2014
May 15, 2014 June 18, 2014
June 15, 2014 July 2, 2014

If you would like help with Darden’s executive MBA essay, please consider’s MBA admissions consulting and MBA essay editing services

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with