During undergraduate school, while focusing on finance, I also took special interest in studying management. Constant interaction with people makes any type of management an ever-changing, thus interesting, occupation.
Towards the end of my first college year, I started working in the largest mortgage bank in my country. One of the first questions I asked during the job interview was whether the bank offers management training programs. Almost two years later, the organization’s training center publicized a tender for a new “Future Management Course”. The requirements included, among others, having commercial-banking experience, as well as a college degree – two demands I did not meet at the time. I did not let this stop me, however.
Knowing that I wanted to become a manager, I was determined to apply for the program. My supervisor supported this and gave me a recommendation for the tender, yet, he claimed that in such a large organization, applying without fulfilling all requirements was pointless. I had to persuade the admissions committee that I could handle participating in the program while completing my college education, and overcoming gaps in professional knowledge. The effort paid off. I was accepted into the program, thus creating two precedents: I became the first person to be accepted into this program before completing a college degree, and the first to do so without any previous experience. The program required that I move from the Mortgage Department to the Commercial Division, where I am currently employed as a Private Accounts Manager.
During college, I decided that when the time was right, I would acquire an MBA education. Now is the perfect time for me to do so. On the one hand, I have gained several years of work experience. On the other hand, I am still at the beginning of my career and believe that an MBA degree from a world-class business school such as Stern will help me mold an effective managerial style.
In addition to these considerations, I would like to make a career change. In my current, position I recruit new clients and market financial products. In the future, I hope to engage more with the essence of finance, rather than the marketing of it.
Upon completing my MBA, I hope to work as a financial consultant in a leading investment bank such as Goldman-Sachs or JPMorgan. More specifically, I would like to help companies develop their equity structure and financial strategy in order to maximize their financial utility. As a consultant, I will gain experience developing economic strategy by doing financial analysis, profit-cost considerations, and research regarding competing firms.
I hope to grow within my organization and become involved in the financial management of the firm, eventually reaching the position of CFO. In this role, I will be called upon to set the financial agenda of the bank, determining policy and deciding which industries to get involved in. I will be required to successfully manage dozens of people, having to motivate and guide them toward executing our strategy. Yet my aspirations do not stop there.
After gaining expertise in capital and equity finance, and acquiring leadership experience, my dream is to man senior positions in the public financial sector. I was raised on values such as actively contributing to my country’s security and future; my grandfather, a building construction contractor, helped build some of first towns in my country. He, my father and I have all been called upon to defend the country during wartime. While my grandfather built the country with a saw and hammer, I would like to build up its financial strength by developing its capital markets. I hope to assume leadership roles in such bodies as the Ministry of Treasury or the Israel Securities Authority. The path of gaining experience and expertise in international financial institutions, and then taking positions in the public sector, has been followed by a number of key figures.
My current position as a commercial banker has given me experience working with businesses from different industries, making credit decisions, motivating employees, and managing campaigns. To succeed as a financial consultant however, I will need to acquire skills in analyzing capital markets and quantitatively evaluating investment possibilities. An MBA from a program which combines a rigorous grounding in quantitative analytical tools will give me these skills.
A soldier who served on the front lines in Afghanistan. A process engineer challenged by a long series of early failures. And a female consultant whose passion became healthcare.
Three MBA applicants to Harvard Business School last year. Three students in the newest crop of MBA students at Harvard this fall. All of them answered the question now being asked of 2017-2018 applicants to Harvard: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?
The school provides minimal guidance for applicants trying to make an impression. “There is no word limit for this question,” advises HBS admissions. “We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t over think, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.”
Each of the three applicants above wrote a clear and compelling essay in their applications, essays that Poets&Quants is reprinting with permission from the MBA Essay Guide Summer 2017 Edition recently published by The Harbus, the MBA student newspaper at Harvard Business School. The guide contains 39 essays written by successful candidates who are now starting the MBA program at HBS. Proceeds from the sale of the guidebook go to benefit the non-profit foundation that supports The Harbus.
With application deadlines rapidly approaching at Harvard Business School and many other prestige MBA programs, these successful essays will, no doubt, give current candidates a bit of guidance. More importantly, the essays that follow are most likely to provide comfort, that there is no formula or singular way to craft a successful answer.
THREE SUCCESSFUL ESSAYS. THREE VERY DIFFERENT APPROACHES.
The latest edition of the MBA Essay Guide from The Harbus costs $61.49
In his 1,130-word essay, the U.S. Army applicant ties together his experiences of leading soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan together with staff postings in Army operations and logistics to paint a portrait of a dedicated and people-oriented leader.
Inspired by a selfless act from her nine-year-old mentee, this management consultant decided to challenge herself to make an impact in healthcare. In a 937-word essay, she uses a particularly difficult turnaround situation which she was put in charge of as exemplifying her strongest skills: building relationships and uniting people around a common goal.
In a 1,358-essay, a process engineer opens up to a long series of failures in his early life. By showing both vulnerability and honesty, he is able to transform this list of fruitless endeavors into a credible “badge of honor,” evidence of his resilience, determination and strength of character. It quickly becomes apparent that what appeared to be failures in the first half, actually proved to be successes or openings for new opportunities, given enough time and perseverance.
ONE APPLICANT DID 25 DRAFTS BEFORE COMING UP WITH ONE SHE LIKED ENOUGH TO SUBMIT
Behind every MBA application is a person and a story, and in this trio of representative essays the approaches taken by each candidate is as different as the essays they submitted to the admissions committee at HBS.
The engineer went through took eight drafts over two months. “I thought about what personal traits I wanted to share with the ADCOM and identified stories from my past that identified those traits,” he explains. “After two or three drafts, I’d figured out the right narrative and kept refining it, taking as much as a week to finalize each draft. My best advice is to be honest, start early, and have someone who knows what the ADCOMS are looking for to read through a couple of your drafts and give you pointers.”
The consultant estimates that she went through 25 drafts to get to her final version. “I think the most important thing with the essay is to iterate,” she advises. “Because the question is so open-ended, it is important to reflect as much as possible and give yourself the time (in my case two months) to go on the journey necessary to realize what you care most about communicating and how to do so in the most effective way. I also cannot overstate the importance of finding someone who will give you honest feedback.
(See on the following pages the complete and full MBA essays submitted to Harvard Business School)