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ESADE MBA Sample Essays

ESADE MBA Application Essays 2023-24

Essay 1: Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this? (max 3 000 characters)

Essay 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). (max 3 000 characters)

Essay 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? (max 3 000 characters)

Essay 4: Complete two of the following four questions or statements (max 3000 characters)

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?

Essay 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. (max 3 000 characters)

ESADE Winning Sample Essays – 1

The aspect of myself that I improved the most during my career so far is to be mentally tough and goal-oriented in the face of adversity. 

In 2011, after finishing my freshman year at Northwestern University, my family and I uprooted our lives in my hometown of Istanbul, Turkey and immigrated to Canada. For a family with two daughters, the declining political climate and women’s rights in Turkey didn’t offer a bright future; Canada on the other hand, did. The experience of being an immigrant taught me to exist and thrive in a foreign environment, as well as to improve the outcomes of those who are in similar situations to mine.

I transferred to McGill University to pursue my studies in music performance. I was cast in operas led by a professor who I later found out  had racially discriminatory views. I found myself in a verbally abusive work environment and the discrimination started to take a toll on me. Things came to a head during my second year and I started having difficulty finding motivation to keep up with my workload and I felt depressed. I knew I had to do something to amend my situation. I chose to focus on the positive; the performance opportunities, scholarships and building my skill set as a professional artist. I persevered, graduated with a good GPA and many opera roles under my belt. This experience taught me to be psychologically resilient and to achieve my goals even in unfavourable circumstances. 

Reflecting on my experience, I realized I may not have been the only one facing these difficulties. Soon after a Turkish colleague of mine reached out to me for help; she received a contract from a reputable casting agency in Vienna. As she did not speak any foreign languages, she depended on her professor to interpret the conditions of the contract. The professor recommended she reject the offer due to restrictive and exploitative terms. As I read the contract myself, I saw the professor had mis-translated and mis-represented the conditions. Having to tell her that a trusted mentor was trying to cheat her out of a good contract was one of the most difficult things I had to do. It also proved to me the abuse and exploitation of emerging artists was a widespread phenomenon, not limited to one university. 

Having identified an Achilles’ heel in the performing arts sector, I decided to step in, start my own consulting firm “Mintra” and put my negotiation, networking and business skills to use. At Mintra I had the privilege of helping emerging artists negotiate contracts, prepare and submit applications to academic and professional arts institutions in Europe, North America and China; and raised funds for artists and their communities. The founding values of my company Mintra Consulting are fairness, meaningful positive impact and a belief in the possibility of a non-zero sum game. These are the values that have helped me achieve the success in my career as a singer and as a business owner. 

Growing up in Istanbul, Turkey, I was exposed to the traditional values of the Eastern Mediterranean and Islamic cultures, while pursuing a Western education that values intellectual curiosity, fact-based reasoning and openness to progressive ideas. Consequently, I adopted an outlook that reconciles a variety of viewpoints. 

From an early age, I have traveled with my parents because of their international careers where I was exposed to the way of life and customs in different countries. All this travelling seeded my love for languages and cultures. As a result, I learned 6 languages and travelled to more than 15 countries to date. This has helped me be an avid communicator and a people connector. 

I have been really lucky in life to convert my passions into a successful career as an artist. I believe music connects and heals, and enhances the human experience. As a professional musician, I believe there is great value I can add to the ESADE community in the unifying and relaxing effect of music. I also hope to bring artistic creativity and aesthetic sensibility into business practices, valuable in customer experience strategy. 

As an artist I believe in the motto “healthy body, healthy mind” and practice it by being actively involved in sports. I was licensed and competed in equestrian sports in Turkey growing up. Currently, I’m an avid weightlifter and I hope to participate in sports activities on campus and be active in organizing such events that help students meet and bond outside of academics.

At ESADE, I hope to be a link between different groups, ethnicities and disciplines and to spark meaningful conversations and connections among my classmates. I hope to bring my skills in bridging different cultures to open dialogue, yet inevitably share human universals. Now I look forward to bringing and sharing these diverse experiences with my peers in the international MBA cohort. 

 

I grew up in a family of business people, which has cultivated my entrepreneurial curiosity from a very young age. While performing internationally as an opera singer in the last five years, I simultaneously started and ran my arts management and consulting business – “Mintra Consulting Co”. As I outlined longer-term goals to expand my business, I realized the necessity of obtaining advanced business skills and expanding my professional network, which I believe could best be accomplished by pursuing an MBA. 

Post-MBA, my short-term goal is to gain corporate experience working in a strategy or operations function for an entertainment company that specializes in digital content, such as Netflix, Joyn or BritBox. In the long-term, I plan to expand my own business to encompass a digital platform for commercializing performance and conceptual arts.

 

After researching and connecting with a lot of alumni and current students, I came to the conclusion that the innovative teaching approach and inclusive academic environment at ESADE would be the perfect fit for me. The core courses such as General Management and Strategy can give me the broader foundation that I need to understand how to run and scale a business. Elective courses such as Entrepreneurial Finance can help me refine my strategy to grow my start-up. 



I’m passionate about diversity and gender equality in business. ESADE’s ranking as the best MBA program for women by the  Financial Times in 2018 and 2021 brought ESADE to the top of my list of MBA options. As a female business owner, I would love to participate in activities promoting increased participation of women in high-level international business and to run for the presidency of the Women in Business Club and EQUAL.

The excellent international reputation for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship ESADE has is another key quality I’m attracted to; if admitted, I would take full advantage of the ecosystem of labs within the Rambla of Innovation to expand my business ideas. 

These aspects combined, with an option to take part in the exchange program at LBS or HEC to expand my business network, complete an internship program, and gain exposure to many companies recruiting on-campus, makes ESADE possibly the best fit for a female entrepreneur like myself. 

I am confident that at ESADE I can grow my network, help develop novel ideas and hone my skills which can help me grow my own business. An esteemed MBA would add hard skills to my current set of soft skills and industry-specific experience and truly set me up to achieve my career goals.

  1. a) “I am most proud of taking the stage as the protagonist in the Canadian premiere of the opera “The Passenger” by Weinberg.” 

I was portraying an ex-Nazi officer’s guilt-ridden psychosees in front of a huge audience. On stage, I was performing along with a 60-piece orchestra, more than 40 chorus members, and a dozen lead singers. This opportunity was the result of the accumulation of tireless work I put in since I started singing 10 years ago.

The role required a nuanced interpretation and precise execution, as did the complex post-tonal composition of the music itself. It pushed the limits of my vocal, mental, intellectual and emotional boundaries, placing me as far away from my comfort zone as possible.

The productions that have impacted me the most and received the most heartfelt reactions from audiences have been the ones with the most thought-provoking subject matters. The opportunity to sing the lead in Weinberg’s The Passenger in its Canadian premiere last year was another one of those moments. Its significance was amplified at the backdrop of the racial justice movements, which hit home for me as an immigrant. The inevitable parallels this work draws with the events of the present-day underlines the repetition of humanity’s mistakes, which strongly resonated with audiences. 

I’m proud of bringing relevant artwork to life and creating moments on stage that pave the way for discourse, reconciliation and healing in our societies.

  1. b) “People may be surprised to learn that I used to be a professional Latin dancer.”

 

Among friends and family, I’m known for pursuing things I am passionate about and striving to achieve excellence in them. I took up social Latin dances as a hobby during my junior year of high school, I took classes at a local dance school and trained 3-4 times a week. I consistently went to local salsa festivals and danced with international dancers from all around the world. I felt a passion for building a connection to strangers through the shared language of dance. 

As a strong independent woman, it was initially difficult to follow the lead of a male partner. Through social dance, I learned how to trust a complete stranger. I loved getting to know and interpret each dance partner’s unique cues on the go and creating the most elegant moves and styling to fit it.

I continued dancing during my freshman year at Northwestern University. My schedule spanned the intellectual college campus by day and the visceral Salsa scene of the Latino minority by night. Before I knew it, I became a regular on the scene and I was recruited by two different dance companies, Latin Rhythms and Mixed Motion Arts, to be on their performance teams. I stacked up dance rehearsals on top of my university coursework and even travelled from NY to LA to perform in many international salsa festivals. 

I’m confident that my passion for learning about other cultures will allow me to connect and collaborate with different members of the ESADE community.

 

In highschool I pursued Science and Math track and took International Baccalaureate maths, physics and biology. I have a solid quantitative background and had no problems with accounting or finances while running my business.

I started my own company in 2016 and since then continued operating it simultaneously through my post-graduate education and opera singing career. This has given me valuable time management skills, in addition to the business experience I gained.

I started my professional music career in 2015, receiving a 2-month contract as a soloist at a Chinese classical music festival. As such, the work of an opera singer is often contract based, signing a new agreement for each role in different productions at different organizations. Each contract is independent and more work becomes available as a career progresses. Therefore it is difficult to quantify in the same manner as a corporate position, where a full-time position has a fixed income that is paid by the same organization. 

In this form I tried my best to fill out the employment questions above, grouping my earnings as an opera singer under one segment and those from my company in the other.



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ESADE Winning Sample Essays – 2

I started my professional journey as a Software Engineer at Accenture 10 years ago. After 4 years in the IT sector, I transitioned to the impact sector to promote education at grass root levels. Most recently, I founded ‘Waste No More’, an initiative in Indonesia that works towards eliminating hunger by donating excess food to the less privileged individuals in our society. Each phase and transition presented me with its own set of challenges and helped me grow professionally and personally. 

At Accenture, I was an individual contributor in a large global organisation. I focused primarily on backend operations and learning hard skills like programming languages. When I transitioned over to the impact sector and worked at Avanti and Atma, I was thrust into a front-end partner facing role. I had to collaborate extensively with other NPOs and foundations. There were no established processes, training modules or the financial resource. I had to learn everything on the go while simultaneously improving my client communication and management skills. I started by attending a workshop on ‘design thinking’ and ‘effective communication’ to address my skill gaps. I also volunteered to represent Atma in conferences and hosted webinars for our beneficiaries. 

I also realised that finding smarter workarounds for resource constraints will have to become my second nature. When we felt the need to implement an ERP system that was quite expensive, I took the initiative to establish a partnership with J.P. Morgan’s “Code for Good” project. They helped us develop a Salesforce solution for free. My years of perseverance and efforts paid off when I successfully forged partnerships with Oracle, Oak Foundation Switzerland and many others to create joint programs. Within a few years, I transitioned from an individual contributor working in the backend to a program leader representing my organisation externally.

Post Atma, when I moved to Indonesia and decided to start my own initiative, Waste No More, I went through another growth phase transitioning from a team leader to a founder role. I learnt how to deal with ambiguity and inspire others to join hands for a common cause. I burned the proverbial midnight oil to create a program that could achieve the intended impact. For the first time, I recruited and built my own team, which would believe in my vision and be motivated to work for it. My commitment to the cause, willingness to learn every day and use of First Principle thinking to solve problems helped me excel at all aspects of building the organisation and grow the impact to 1500 meals a week. 

 Today, I feel very humbled to have gone through these steep learning curves, which allowed me to impact 800,000+ beneficiaries through 3 non-profits in 2 countries and meet many like-minded, passionate people in the journey. I still have a lot to learn, and I look forward to deepening my understanding of businesses with impact at ESADE. 

I am a sports enthusiast, and I love diving and hiking. I am a certified open water diver and have completed 25+ treks across five countries.

After moving to Indonesia, I took up scuba diving and fell in love with it instantly. It is thrilling to see the exquisite world below water and swim with turtles or manta rays. I have been most mesmerised by the breathtaking beauty of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. When in Barcelona, I would love to organise a trip to Palamos (Boreas) with my peers where we can connect outside of the academic environment and form genuine life long bonds.

I have hiked across India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Spain, and Portugal. The most arduous hike I have ever taken was a 5-day hike in the Himalayas. On this hike, we lost one entire day due to heavy rains and had to cover up with a 17km hike the next day. Due to rain, I slipped and hurt myself. I was given an option to complete the rest of the journey on a horse so that I do not miss the beautiful sunset view from the peak. However, I was determined to complete the trek myself, and while I missed the sunset, the feeling of ending the day on my own was none-the-less exhilarating. This experience reiterated the importance of a never-give-up attitude which has helped me overcome many challenges in life. 

Each dive and hike requires extensive planning and preparation, and the process has helped me reach new heights of discipline. I aim to carry the same spirit at ESADE and look forward to connecting with people through the Sports Business Club. 

While sports has taught me to foster new relationships with people across cultures, my family values have taught me to be responsible and dependable. In 2017, when I was working on new projects at Atma, my brother-in-law fell terribly sick and was hospitalised in the Intensive Care Unit for over a month. While my sister was taking care of him, she relied on me to take care of everything else in her life. That month, I parented my sister’s 8-month old daughter, managed her house chores, and simultaneously juggled to complete all my deliverables at work. This incidence made me realise how crucial it is to balance family and work and how people at both ends count on me to be there for them. 

While speaking with Mary Granger from ESADE admissions team, we discussed the importance of working as a team at ESADE and lifting each other up. I am confident that I can be a strong pillar of my group as we grow together.

“Almost 1/3rd of the food produced in the world is wasted, while 690 million people go hungry globally.”

At Waste No More, we are working towards eliminating the hunger problem by collecting excess food from varied partners and redistributing it to the people in need. As the founder, I wear multiple hats and am involved in all core functions. However, I spend significant time growing two critical aspects of our program – building partnerships with food donors and expanding the volunteer base. Waste No More has partnered with 10+ large scale donors and distribute more than 1500 meals every week in Jakarta and its satellite city. We currently reach out to 5000+ beneficiaries across 22 communities. However, to truly make an impact in the world hunger problem would require interventions at all points of the food supply chain starting from farming. My long-term goal is to build a social enterprise mobilising technology-driven solutions for such interventions and reduce food wastage in South East Asia and Indian Subcontinent. 

I have extensive experience in leading operations at the grass-root level for social organisations. In the short term, I want to upskill myself, learn the strategic approach to continuous growth and innovation, and understand how to lead social enterprises to global success. Post MBA, I aspire to join the program operations team at an international foundation like Gates Foundation or Charities Aid Foundation to get exposure to complex operations and understand how large global organisations thrive through challenges. An MBA can help me build an academic understanding of business fundamentals and management concepts. I also hope to strengthen my leadership skills through a program focusing on diversity and well-rounded growth. Speaking with Mary, I realised an MBA from ESADE would be a perfect fit as it will open doors to explore diverse options to grow in the Impact sector apart from conventional paths. 

Tarun Kurakula (Co’22) suggested classes such as Social Entrepreneurship and International Business Strategy could be highly relevant. ESADE’s “Student First” approach that combines coursework with practise through case studies and simulations can further strengthen my grasp on business concepts. Leading Net Impact Club can help me understand the landscape of the Impact sector in Europe while developing my network with industry leaders. I would also like to participate in study tours and career treks leveraging ESADE’s partnerships worldwide. Additionally, participating in the CBI Project can help me ideate solutions for building food security leveraging technology. 

I am confident that working with a truly diverse cohort combined with ESADE’s experiential learning will help me evolve into a global leader and achieve my ambitious goal of making a pronounced contribution in solving the world’s hunger problem.

  1. “I am most proud of helping struggling kids start on a mission that will lead them out of poverty and will make their dreams come true.”

Back in 2013, when I was still working at CSGI, my watchman came to my house and explained how his eldest son had failed 3rd standard in primary school for the 2nd time. He was worried for his kids and asked for my help in teaching and motivating his kids to learn. 

While I had no formal background in teaching, I agreed to teach them the basics and see if I could motivate them. I started teaching his son and a few other 5-8-year-old kids at home for 2 hours every day. That 1 year proved to be a powerful lesson for me as well in the virtues of patience and perseverance. Capturing the imagination of students who had lost interest in studies required me to think outside the box and come up with unconventional methods of teaching. Finally, I was able to build the conceptual foundation which helped these students pass their exam and it was at that moment I decided to help many such children who struggle due to the gaps in Indian education system.

This inspired me to bid adieu to my prospering IT career and work in the social sector full time. I was teaching these kids how to learn and pass mathematics exams but in turn these kids ended up giving me much more return. I found a new purpose in life, and the confidence to create a real positive impact. However, coming from a modest family, it was not easy to convince my parents and husband of my decision to switch sectors especially when I was taking almost 70% pay cut. But with my newfound purpose in life, I was determined to chart a new course for myself.

Looking back at all the impact that I created, I feel proud and my family is now very supportive of my career and the work I am doing.

  1. “You would be surprised to learn that I am a trained kathakali dancer.( Classical Indian dance form)”

While today, I have traveled to more than 9 countries and fully ingrained in the western culture, people may find it surprising to know that I am still deeply rooted in my culture and have trained for 8 years in Indian classical dance form of Kathakali. I love to dance and after winning several local competitions, as a kid, I started to train dedicatedly in Indian Classical Dance – Kathakali. I was part of my school and college dance teams and participated in several group dance competitions. I felt this dance training has helped me gain confidence at an early age to present myself to the world.

Today, with a full time job and family, dance helps me take a break and forget about the stresses of life. Dance is universal, it present in some form in every country in the world. It helps me to bond with people, express myself and have fun on the way. The beauty is that you can never outgrow it, I look to continue dancing in some form or the other till I am 80, 90 or even 100-year old. Now I wish my 2 year old daughter, who loves music and dancing, pursues some hobby that exposes her more to the Indian cultural background.

I would like to use this opportunity and tell the admissions committee about my full-time work at Waste No More. It is a volunteer-driven organisation where we do not take any monetary donation. I have dedicated myself wholly to the benefit of society and have not taken any salary for the last 1.5 years.

I moved to Indonesia because of my husband’s relocation for work purposes. In India, I was working with non-profit organisations in the education domain. In Indonesia, I reached out to local communities to build a first-hand understanding of the education landscape in the country. However, I encountered a troubling reality – with extreme poverty and no food to feed their children, education was a luxury these families just could not afford. Hunger was a much more pressing problem in these communities. 

That’s why I changed my focus from education to hunger and started Waste No More. It was never just an organisation but a movement in my mind, one which would continue to exist even if I stopped leading it. After careful consideration of various models and looking for inspiration from other parts of the world where similar organisations exist, I narrowed down on a purely volunteer-driven model with an empowered core team. I believed this model had the most longevity and could continue to create an impact as one wasn’t committed because of any compensation. 

Our expectations from our volunteers were not just to do food collection and distribution, but also be involved in strategising, driving outreach, and all other functions of the organisation. Our expectation from our donor partners is always to donate surplus food, never money. We solely focused on growing our impact and moving away from monetary donation allowed us to add trustworthy partners who were genuinely motivated by our cause. This meant that having official employees, having a bank account or legal contracts with donor organisations was never a priority. 

COVID-19 further deprioritised the process of formalising the organisation as we focused our energy on keeping the momentum we had gathered and continuing to serve our beneficiaries in the time of their highest need. 

In future too, I wish to continue contributing to core functions as a volunteer.

ESADE Winning Sample Essays – 3

I am most proud of my work I did with the Folk musicians community in helping revive their income streams during COVID forced lockdown. While I was living away from my family in Rajasthan, due to the family dispute (mentioned in the second part of this essay), I became close to a group of folk musicians known as the Langhas. I met them for the first time when they performed at the annual Camel Festival and I simply fell in love with their music and craft. 

Everything was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the musicians community was severely hit. India was under lockdown, and the tourism and event hosting industry stopped hosting any performance events. This was disastrous for folding musicians. This is when the head of the community reached out for any help I could provide by finding more business opportunities for them. 

Along with friends, in May 2020, we organised a Zoom concert. Our biggest challenge was their region’s sparse internet access. The musicians walked to my friend’s house, 4 hours from their village, where they would have access to high speed internet. I personally worked with Sikandar- the group’s lead musician to design the campaign. I would help him to record videos on his phone showcasing their art and then edit them together to make videos that would appeal to potential donors. We promoted the concert on social media and gathered an international audience of over 100 people and raised USD 3000 for these families, a substantial amount of money in India. This effort of helping someone in the dire hour of need is what makes me proud of myself and my efforts. 

The most difficult challenge I’ve faced to date has been regaining my self-confidence after being rejected from the army due to being medically unfit.

When I was 14 years old, my family went through a massive upheaval. Tensions related to an old property dispute were boiling over. Under threat of personal harm, I was suddenly sent away to live in Bikaner, a far flung, underdeveloped town in Rajasthan. This came with huge challenges. The sudden drop in the quality of education, along with the culture shock of being in a rural environment after cosmopolitan Delhi affected my grades, motivation to study, and above all, my self confidence. I went from being a highly social kid who did extremely well in school to an introvert who was barely getting by in school. 

The final blow came when I failed the physicals for the Indian army selection procedure despite clearing the written examination because of my lack of fitness. Hitting rock bottom and clutching at straws, I discovered a local powerlifting community and started training. This was a massive turning point. I won multiple local powerlifting awards and regained my confidence. Powerlifting helped me build up a lot of mental and physical resilience and helped me discover ways of persisting and coping with adverse times. 

The most difficult challenge I’ve faced to date has been regaining my self-confidence after being rejected from the army due to being medically unfit.

When I was 14 years old, my family went through a massive upheaval. Tensions related to an old property dispute were boiling over. Under threat of personal harm, I was suddenly sent away to live in Bikaner, a far flung, underdeveloped town in Rajasthan. This came with huge challenges. The sudden drop in the quality of education, along with the culture shock of being in a rural environment after cosmopolitan Delhi affected my grades, motivation to study, and above all, my self confidence. I went from being a highly social kid who did extremely well in school to an introvert who was barely getting by in school. 

The final blow came when I failed the physicals for the Indian army selection procedure despite clearing the written examination because of my lack of fitness. Hitting rock bottom and clutching at straws, I discovered a local powerlifting community and started training. This was a massive turning point. I won multiple local powerlifting awards and regained my confidence. Powerlifting helped me build up a lot of mental and physical resilience and helped me discover ways of persisting and coping with adverse times. 

I moved back to Delhi and helped my family resolve the dispute. I decided to join the family’s food business and stayed with them for six years until it became stable and financially viable. Finally, I was free to follow my own career path. While taking the risk and striking out on my own was very empowering, after a few difficult years working in sales and business development, I now realise the importance of a good education, which is why I am now interested in doing an MBA. All these experiences have made me recognise the inherent resilience within myself and have given me the self-confidence that I am not afraid of trying new things, no matter how hard they get.

I came to know about the program through research. However, after initial interest, I spoke to alums Kemal Sandianugraha (Co’2019), Sairam Potnuru (Co’2016) and current student Tarun Kurakula (Co’2022).

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