LBS Executive MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Click here to learn more about LBSIn the LBS EMBA website landing page, a short introduction to the program includes the words “transform,” “transition,” and “catalyst.”  Also, “accelerate” and “propel.”  This is a clear message from the adcom: the program goes beyond conveying necessary skills for senior managers; it is for people who have a dynamic sense of their future and a willingness to change and grow, as well as to study and learn.  Your essays should mirror and convey this dynamic sense, this energy, this vigor.

Question 1: How has the scope of your management experience affected your career objectives? (500 word max)

This is a goals question, albeit rather indirect.  And the question itself reflects the dynamic perspective: rather than “what” your career goals are, it asks you to present them as a part of an ongoing process.  

It’s an essay for which the most work might come before you write it – in the preliminary thinking process.  Make it an exercise: FIRST, define your career objectives (short and longer term).  SECOND, identify what factors influenced the development of those objectives.  THIRD, of those factors, single out those related (directly and/or indirectly) to your management experience.  Now, you’ve got the raw material for your essay.

In the actual essay, you could start with career objectives and work back to portray the related management experience – or vice versa.  Either way, be specific in all aspects – make your goals concrete, and use anecdote and detail in describing the influential management experience.

Question 2: What was your response to a piece of feedback that you have received regarding an area of weakness?  (500 words max)

The adcom wants to see how frankly you portray the feedback and your own shortcoming, and how insightfully you contextualize your experience.  Secondarily, it’s about change –did you grow and change as a result of the feedback?

This essay will be most compelling and engaging if written as a story.  Start right in with the story’s setting – where, who, when (ideally make it a fairly recent experience, and one that holds some meaningful stakes).  Then progress through the story, highlighting not just what you and the other party said and did, but also your thinking as the story progresses.  Finally, give a short example of how you have applied this feedback (or your learning from this feedback experience) subsequently – in other words, how you grew.

Question 3 (500 words max):  Please choose ONE essay from the following two options:

If you could choose any three people who have ever lived to join you for dinner, who would you invite and why?

OR

If you were on the cover of any publication in 10 years, what would the headline and the content of the article be?

If the first two questions are rooted in real-world, concrete experience, this question urges you to “play” a little and use your imagination, wit, creativity, and possibly broader passions in answering.

Which should you answer?  Both are equally good; it depends on which serves your needs and interest best.

There are various viable and effective approaches to this essay. One is “gut instinct” and personal appeal.  I.e., if one of these questions strikes a chord with you, engages you, and you have an idea that you like, probably it will be an effective essay.   Go with it!  BUT, do apply some objective, focused analysis as well.  Ensure that your content truly illuminates you in some new and fresh way relevant to the application, and do use detail and example to make your essay credible and vivid.  

Another approach is strategic.  If your imagination isn’t tickled by these questions, instead analyze and plan.  What relevant and interesting aspects of your profile aren’t yet portrayed (or portrayed adequately) in the application?  Identify one or two such points, and work back from that to find suitable topics for one of the two questions.  BUT: don’t be too heavy handed with the essay, which wouldn’t align with the question’s tone.

Random pitfalls:

• If you choose the first question, please don’t use very obvious or overly angelic people (I’ve seen this essay answered with Gandhi and Mother Teresa more often than I can believe over 15 years.)  Rather, discuss people who show your creative thinking and/or are personally meaning to you.

• If you choose the second question, don’t turn the essay into a second goals essay.  Ensure that it extends the portrayal of you in some way.

 Deadlines:

For September 2015 and January 2016 start:  Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis within 2 weeks of receipt.  A final decision will come 6 to 8 weeks after submission.

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

Ace the EMBA
• School-Specific EMBA Application Essay Tips
• The GMAT and EMBA Programs

Global EMBA 2015 Essay Tips

Click here to learn more EMBA essay tips

You need to know what “global leader” means to you.

The Global EMBA has 2 program options: EMBA-Global Americas & Europe which combines the strengths of Columbia University and London Business School; and EMBA-Global Asia, with Columbia University, London Business School, and Hong Kong University Business School.  

Of course all MBA and EMBA applications are about “fit.”  The Global EMBA is too – just more so.  This adcom really focuses on fit, because the program is so unique and intense.  And the concept of “global leader” is a critical part of that fit.  How it’s embodied will be unique to each applicant; ensure that your essays reflect your own mindset and vision of global leadership.  

The adcom also looks for applicants who truly understand and will make productive use of this distinctive educational opportunity, which comprises multiple campuses and schools each with its own particular focus, opportunities, and areas of excellence.  

The three essay questions vary in approach, thus requiring you to present yourself effectively from different angles.  There’s a fairly classic goals essay, a “story” (behavioral) essay, and an open “statement.”  The challenge is to employ a consistent individual voice while also adapting it to the various essay types.

EMBA GLOBAL ESSAY QUESTIONS

Essay 1 (maximum 500 words)

Why do you wish to participate in the EMBA-Global programme? What do you hope to experience and how will participation in this programme help you to achieve your objectives?

Here’s that goals question.  First a note about the nuance of the question: notice the words wish, hope, experience, and participate/participation.  These words imply an immersive, personal, community, collaborative orientation.  In the essay (and indeed throughout the application) show how you fit with this holistic approach.

Structure: I’ve found that it’s intuitive and logical to start the essay by discussing your goals – the objectives at the very end of the question.  (And add a word about what motivates them.)  You will then naturally move into what you hope to experience from the program, because your professional goals create your learning needs.  This part can (indeed should) include a personal component as well.  To address participation, discuss elements beyond the classroom where you will learn and contribute, such as clubs, social interactions, etc.

Essay 2 (maximum 500 words)

Please describe a situation either work or personal where you faced a particular challenge. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience about your own strengths and personal development needs?

This is the story.  I suggest selecting a topic that’s relatively recent.  Make it a situation with some significant stakes, and one that yielded meaningful insight, growth, and change.  

Structure: Jump right into the story.  Avoid preambles that give away the ending!  This straightforward approach grips the reader and frees up space for detail and narrative, which is the way to grip the reader.  As you walk through what happened, highlight your actions and add in snippets of what you were thinking (and even feeling).  Conclude with a paragraph reflecting on what you learned about your strengths and development needs.

Personal statement (maximum 500 words)

Please tell us about yourself and your background. How do you embody the characteristics of a future global leader? The objective of this statement is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally.

First, think.  Selecting content is not so easy when faced with an open question such as this.  There is no one formula that will work for everyone.  Some people might best focus on aspects of their cultural milieu and its formative influence on their values and perspective.  Others might focus on pivotal experiences during university, others yet on influential role model(s) or relationships.  Many people will appropriately discuss more than one of these things.

The adcom knows that the term “global leader” is abstract and that it will be manifested uniquely in each “real” global leader.  So rather than trying to fit your experiences to the concept of global leader, work from the other direction: start with your experiences and background and elucidate how they will help make you a unique, individual global leader.  

Last but not least, you need to know what “global leader” means to you and what kind of global leader you aspire to be.  You can’t just use the phrase without defining it for the adcom.   You have to create the picture.

Remaining deadlines:

EMBA Global Americas & Europe:  02 March 2015

EMBA-Global Asia:  20 March 2015
Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!
Cindy Tokumitsu

By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

• School-Specific Executive MBA Essay Tips
• The GMAT and EMBA Programs
• Tips for Executive MBA Reapplicants

Cornell 2015 Executive MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Check out some more EMBA application essay tips!The 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 1000 characters.)*

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 1000 characters.)*

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 1000 characters.

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.

Application Timelines:  

Both of Cornell’s Executive MBA Programs operate on a rolling admissions basis. Therefore they do not adhere to strict application deadlines. With that said, they do encourage applicants to move forward at their earliest convenience to avoid potential seat capacity or timing restrictions.

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!

Jennifer Weld

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

Related Resources:

•   EMBA 2015 Essay Tips
•   There is No Place Like Ithaca
•   The GMAT and EMBA Programs

MBA Interview with Stanford MSx Student Erik Moon

Get the scoop on the Stanford MSx Program! This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Erik Moon, a recent graduate from Stanford MSx.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Where did you go to business school?

Erik: First of all, I’m a bit older than the typical MBA student. I’m in my early 40s and have nearly 20 years of experience in product management, project management and operations in telecom, data centers and corporate IT. I’ve spent about half my career in Silicon Valley and the other half in Northern Virginia – so the two primary schools I was interested in were UVA / Darden and Stanford GSB.

I did my undergrad (BS Economics) as well as a masters degree (MS Information Systems) at George Washington University in Washington DC. I just graduated (2014) from the Stanford MSx program (previously known as the Sloan Fellows program). It is a full-time one-year program for experienced professionals. The summer / fall quarters are spent taking mostly core classes (like an MBA 1st year) and the winter / spring quarters are mostly electives (like an MBA 2nd year).

Accepted: What’s the difference between Stanford Sloan and Stanford’s MSx degree? 

Erik: Same thing… The Sloan program has almost 60 years of history as a degree program for experienced professionals. The program has changed significantly in the last few years to make the curriculum more flexible and incorporate the opportunity for many more electives than in years past. It is a 4-quarter full-time degree program, so Stanford doesn’t like to call it an EMBA – so students are not able to continue work while taking classes, but many students (approx 30%) are sponsored by their employers.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Stanford? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Erik: That is a huge question! My favorite thing about Stanford has to be the optimism – the students all expect to be doing great things some day. People don’t come to Stanford just to slowly climb into middle management. The GSB motto – Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world. – is not an exaggeration…

If I could change one thing, I would want to increase awareness of the MSx program. It is a hidden gem that many people have simply never heard of in their b-school search. I think the branding (not wanting to call the program an EMBA) makes it very confusing. When mid-career applicants ask if Stanford GSB has an EMBA, the first answer is “NO” – then these applicants simply look elsewhere. But if they ask the right question – “Does Stanford GSB have a mid-career graduate business degree program?” – they would find the best “executive-level” business degree at the best b-school in the world.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known when you started the program?

Erik: Since it is only a 1-year program, it is important to understand exactly what you want to get out of your short time on campus and quickly figure out how to get it. It requires a lot of initiative and focus when there are lots of life changes and distractions all around. You can’t sit back and expect all the good things to come to you – students need to actively seek opportunities and grab it.

That said, Stanford GSB has an acronym – FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out – there are so many events, clubs, guest speakers, presentations, brown-bag-lunches and other things happening that it is really easy to get frustrated or swamped. You have to come to the realization that you will never be able to attend everything. Again, important to quickly determined what you will get the best value for your time and prioritize!

Accepted: Can you tell us about Stanford’s unusual six-point grading system?

Erik: I blogged about this here: http://sloanlife.com/2014/08/02/gsb-grades-the-elusive-h/

Bottom line: Get your highest possible marks as early as possible and anchor your GPA nice and high while you’re taking relatively straightforward core classes. This affords you the freedom to later take classes you WANT to take and not worry at all about the grades.

Accepted: Were you involved in any clubs on campus? How central to student life is club involvement?

Erik: Not at all central, but the clubs are great ways to find other students with similar interests (and usually get a lot of free food / beer). I mostly spent my time with Entrepreneurship Club and High Tech Club. Participation is completely optional and you could certainly get by with never attending a club event…

Accepted: Now that you’ve graduated, what are you up to?

Erik: I’m currently working on a startup – Hinted.com – we’re building a platform for personal and professional feedback.

Accepetd: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the b-school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Erik: I should have gotten off my ass and applied sooner… I could easily have done this 3-4 years ago… The GMATs were a perfect excuse for me to procrastinate. In retrospect, should have just bitten the bullet a long time ago when the quant material was a lot more fresh in my mind.

Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our business school applicant readers?

Erik: Apply to the best school you know you will get into first (and that you would be willing to go to) – and apply early! This will take off all the pressure. Once you have this acceptance, you can go pursue the dream schools top down, instead of inching upwards. This is the approach I took – I first applied to UVA Darden GEMBA and was accepted. I was completely willing to take that program – but then I started realizing that maybe I should try getting into more exclusive programs. I applied to Stanford MSx and intended to apply to Wharton San Francisco. I was accepted into Stanford and didn’t even have to fill out another application.

Also, if you want to go to a top school, don’t even bother applying until you can post a 700 GMAT or better. The application process is simply too competitive.

You also need to distinguish yourself in some way. You can have a 750 GMAT, a 3.9 GPA and great work experience and not look like an interesting candidate. Find something interesting about yourself where you can truly say that you have world-class talent / skills / experience to differentiate yourself.

Don’t hold back – you are your own best advocate – your b-school application is not the time for modesty (but don’t lie either). Demonstrate how you will take what Stanford (or other school) will give you and leverage that to give back to the community.

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

You can read more about Erik’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Sloan Life. Thank you Erik for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business! Click here to learn more!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders
• What Stanford is Looking for: Personal Qualities and Contributions
• Stanford GSB 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips

MIT Sloan 2015 Executive MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here to download a free copy of "Ace the EMBA"

This set of essay questions shows that MIT seeks applicants who have a vision for the career they are building, who understand the impacts of their actions, and who have the judgment and practical skills to effectively handle the challenges that will come at them like fastballs in a World Series.  The essays are your main means to show that you possess, as MIT’s website states, “strong leadership performance, global perspective, functional expertise, and innovation.”  While the statement of purpose challenges you to succinctly create your portrait as an applicant, the three essay questions, each in its own way, probe how you create value while responding to various types of challenges.

In an overall plan for the essays, the statement of purpose works as a context, a positioner, an opening pitch, a frame.  You will describe specific experiences in each of the three essays, so strategically try to select experiences that are different, to give a comprehensive view.  Also, usually it’s advisable to discuss recent experiences, to allow the adcom to see you working at a high level and showing what you’ll bring to the table.

Statement of purpose:

Please provide a statement indicating your qualifications, why you are pursuing the MIT Executive MBA Program, and what you will contribute to the program. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This is your portrait – your candidacy at a glance.  It should convey a vivid, immediate sense of you as a person and as a candidate.  It should go beyond just facts to present a point of view and a message.  Decide your message first, before drafting the essay, and let it guide you in selecting and elaborating the content details.

Beware of a potential pitfall: in discussing qualifications, do not repeat your resume in prose format.  Also, don’t present all your qualifications.  Select carefully, focusing on those that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly and also (c) reflect your message. Make a short, meaningful point about each qualification, such as the insight it lends or its influence on you, supported by a fact or example.

For why you are pursuing the MBA, of course you’ll discuss your professional goals and objectives.  Focus not only on what you want to do, but also on what you want to accomplish for the organization and/or its customers/market.

The contributions you mention should reference your own experience from work or outside work; think of what about you would be most meaningful and interesting to prospective classmates.  This element of your response is an opportunity to show that you understand the program.

Essays:

1. The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to “develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world.” Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing this mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

In answering this question, clarify what “principled, innovative leader” and “improving the world” mean to you.  These points represent your point of view, your “vision” – they should be short, but without them this essay lacks focus.  The bulk of the essay will focus on action – your examples of past work and activities that make the case for how you have been and will continue to be a principled, innovative leader who improves the world.  They key to making this a gripping, memorable essay is strong experiences and examples combined with your reflection on them pertaining to the essay’s theme.  End by briefly discussing how you will build on these experiences to be such a leader in the future.

2. During your career, what is the hardest challenge that you have had to solve? Consider examples when more than one viable solution was present. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

There are really two points this question asks about: how you define and respond to a major challenge, and your decision-making process in selecting the solution.  Choose your topic accordingly.  With just 500 words, structure the essay simply: narrate the challenge as a brief story, portraying your thought process as you encounter it.  As you approach the solution part of the story, describe the solution options and your determination of which to take.  In writing the essay, clarify why you consider it the “hardest challenge” – is it one that was extraordinarily complex, one that had no desirable solution, one that had huge stakes, etc.? 

3. Tell us about a time within the past three years when you had to give difficult feedback to a peer. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This question is a straightforward inquiry into your interpersonal skills, judgment, leadership, and (again) decision making.  It’s one thing to give difficult feedback to a subordinate – something you probably do as part of your supervisory role.  It’s another thing altogether to give such feedback to a peer – someone you don’t manage and whose performance you aren’t accountable for.  If possible, make the essay do “double duty” by selecting a story that also portrays you performing at a high level in a significant role.   Think about the topic and how your actions align with and complement the other essays.

Optional Essay.

As part of the MIT Executive MBA curriculum, you will participate in Organizations Lab (O-Lab). This Action Learning course focuses on making a substantive improvement in the performance of your organization, usually by fixing one of its processes.

Identify something, within your organization, upon which to improve. (This does not have to be a large change initiative, small improvements to a process can have a big impact). Please describe the change and why you might choose it? This can be something you have tried to improve in the past and has yet to be realized (whether based on lack of expertise or tools).

Should you do this optional essay? I believe yes. It’s an opportunity to further demonstrate your organizational awareness, possibly highlight important elements of your role, and show your perceptiveness. A key element here will be your perspective on change and its potential impact(s). Select an issue that has an interesting, challenging dimension. Consider the experiences you describe in the other essays and make sure this one isn’t redundant – it should reflect a new facet of your experience. Keep it short – certainly under 500 words. And keep it simple: describe the issue you’d like to improve (and why), and then very briefly reflect on why it’s challenging. You may suggest a possible solution or approaches to solutions, but you don’t have to “solve” it. MIT is interested in your thought process here.

Deadlines:

Application Opens: November 14, 2014

Round 1 Deadline: February 17, 2015 (11:59pm EST)

Round 2 Deadline: June 1, 2015 (11:59pm EDT)

If you would like help with MIT Sloan’s executive MBA essays, please consider Accepted.com’s Executive MBA packages or our hourly consulting/editing services.

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!


Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Related Resources:

• School-Specific Executive MBA Essay Tips
• Tips for Executive MBA Reapplicants
• The GMAT and EMBA Programs