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HKUST MBA Sample Essay 2023-24

Essay 1: What are your strengths? Please also share an example of how you have used your strengths to make a difference at work or outside of work. (350 words)

Essay 2: What are your long term and short term goals? How do you plan to use HKUST’s MBA to achieve these goals? (350 words)

Optional Essay: What else would you like the admissions committee to know about you and your application? (250 words)

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HKUST MBA Sample Essays

HKUST Essay 1: The HKUST MBA mission is to inspire and transform individuals to be future business leaders for Asia and the world. We embrace diversity and are looking for ambitious and open-minded candidates with a passion to contribute. It is the first day of orientation. Please introduce yourself to your classmates, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life. (500 words maximum)

At age 16, I attended a boarding school where my classmates came from extremely wealthy families. The first year, I barely spoke, afraid my uncouth accent would give away my small-town upbringing. Over time, I cultivated genuine friendships and learned that the foundations of meaningful relationships lie in honesty. In business, it is key to delivering customer service. Maintaining AAP’s legacy of customer service was the reason behind my decision to scrap the incentive system for agents and replace it with a fixed salary. Given the bigger ticket sizes of commercial deals, many agents had exclusively started chasing them while ignoring residential rent clients that comprise 60% of our client base. To avoid a dip in performance, I compensated lack of incentive pay with a biannual contest. 

I was shy growing up and learned to speak up because of the exposure I had to travel. It gave me perspective and made me open-minded. My time in Kathmandu, when I spent 3 months in an orphanage tutoring underprivileged children, is perhaps most memorable – the image of a four-year-old Pramila getting up to hurriedly wash her dishes and finish her chores before school is etched in my memory. My experiences meeting people from different backgrounds taught me to value others’ opinions because their prism of looking at a problem could be so different from my own. Today, in meetings, I make sure that I ask people who are not speaking up to contribute.

My background in tutoring has also impacted my leadership style. I identify as a coach-style leader. When I joined POPxo, a late-stage startup – processes were not defined, reporting structure was haphazard – leading to confusion amongst stakeholders and redundancy in content. I established a Kanban system to align stakeholders. Within the Social Media team, I established procedures targeted at team building, such as cheering on others’ accomplishments, weekly lunches, and feedback sessions where team members shared 1 positive and 1 negative feedback about another’s content vertical. The quality of content improved, and we celebrated individual successes as a team. That year, we generated the most traffic for the e-commerce wing via our channels (~85%) and delivered the most successful Amazon India fashion Week in company history. Simplifying convoluted structures led to a more efficient system beneficial across multiple cross-functional teams. There was also a visible change in the attitude of team members, and one member got promoted shortly after. 

My professional background in content management has strengthened my storytelling ability, and I can present my ideas in a way that best suits my audience. In my current role, it helps me break down solutions for clients in the best possible way – with graphs, visuals, and relatable analogies.

My experiences have shaped me into the person I am today: someone who puts the customer first, is persistent in the face of challenges, genuinely cares about the progress of her team, is methodical in her approach to work, creative in presentation, and thrives on constructive criticism.

Essay 2: Tell us about your post-MBA goals and based on that, why is the HKUST MBA the ideal program for you, and how do you plan to engage and enrich our community? (500 words)*

Back when I was a teenager, I was waiting for my father in his office as he finalized the terms of an agreement with 3 customers, who were from different generations in the same family. My father explained that that wasn’t unusual as he has worked with some of his customers for 25+ years. The value of creating lasting customer relationships has since stayed with me.

I started my career on the sales floor of a denim brand where I learned to read the needs of a customer through physical interaction. As sales moved online, I transitioned to the e-commerce industry, where I used my creative acumen in content to drive sales. I then spent a little over a year understanding the underpinnings of social-media-led commerce, thereafter returning to my real estate roots.

As Director of the Commercial Department, I have led my family-owned real estate firm’s digital transformation by instituting security measures to safeguard the database, establishing a social media presence to serve as a lead generation channel, and optimizing pre-existing channels to drive +30% customer acquisition. To diversify, I have established a marketing consultancy for retail clients. 

In the long run, I want to extend our operations to Southeast Asia and enter the real estate development and investment space while continuing to focus on marketing consultancy. ASEAN countries, ranked first for overseas property investment, present tremendous opportunities for a real estate firm. Hong Kong, with easy access to the capital and the ASEAN region, is thus ideally located. The HKUST MBA, an Asian program with a Western outlook, will help me immerse myself in Asian business culture. By pursuing the Business Technology & Analysis MBA track, I want to strengthen my digital competencies so I can eventually transform the business into a wholly automated framework. Tsinghua’s Mandarin training would help me bridge the language barrier. Additionally, HKUST’s GNAM membership will help me build a network of working professionals beyond the MBA cohort and alumni.

Post-MBA, I want to work in a commercial real estates firm such as JLL or Colliers in business development and expansion role (Transaction Manager/ Strategic Planner) so I can gain from their institutional knowledge of having established themselves in multiple markets, learn what goes into running a multinational real estate firm, and establish a network of local real estate professionals in Southeast Asia.

My experience living abroad and leading teams from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds has given me the ability to thrive in multicultural environments. My core values of radical honesty and transparency and my strong desire to share and receive feedback can help me and the HKUST cohort in our journeys to be better business people. I hope to bring these values to the General Management Club, and my passion for inclusivity to the Mosaic club. I am also keen to use my background in content management in an editorial capacity for HKUST’s Must Have MBA blog.

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