IIM Ahmedabad Sample Essays 2023-24
Essay 1 : What career/role are you planning to pursue and why? (200-250 words)
Essay 2: How PGP in Management of IIM Ahmedabad could help you in achieving your career goals? (200-250 words)
Essay 3: How do you see yourself contributing to the IIM Ahmedabad community? (200-250 words)
IIM Ahmedabad PGPX Winning Sample Essays -1
Essay 1. Can you narrate a few incidents from your professional life that would illustrate your ability to handle volatile situations? (1000 words)
I have more than 13 years of experience spread across 5 countries. In these 13 years, I have been put in the spotlight multiple times to manage volatile situations or difficult people. I would be lying if I say I didn’t struggle in these situations and never thought of backing out. But success is like intoxication, you taste it once and you always crave for it. I believe it is the success in managing such situations that have helped me succeed in my career and rise up to be a team leader now.
One of the most peculiar and politically volatile situations I have managed happened when I was deputed to the United kingdom (UK). TCS was offered one single position in the client’s portfolio, my manager gave me the responsibility to handle the client and see if we can secure more business and expand our footprint at the client’s UK location. But on day one I realized that the entire technical portfolio of clients had individual contractors. They did not represent any company, and to keep their contracts safe, the entire technical team was at odds with me coming onboard to represent an Indian IT firm which was a clear threat to their contractor positions being offshored to India. Technical team, at every opportunity, tried to put across the message that I am not fit for the job and I had to go the extra mile to defend my every suggestion or recommendation.
Within the first month instead of working to grow our footprint, I was struggling to first ensure that TCS does not lose the contract for my position. It was a very politically charged situation where contractors wanted to defend their work scope from being Bangalored. I discussed it with my manager and figured out the best way forward would be to be patient and use diplomacy rather than superior technical knowledge. To win everyone’s trust, while raising any conflict in the meetings, I always ensured that I am also praising the technical team for their efforts and started developing personal connections over coffee and lunches. After 10 months, I was able to establish a personal connection with everyone and successfully added two more positions at the UK office for TCS. I also opened a communication channel between TCS and client leadership to improve TCS’s future prospects as well. Pleased with my achievements, my management gave me a promotion as well. I was also humbled when the entire team organized a farewell party for me when I left that project for another opportunity. This experience taught me how to work and succeed in an intimidating and unreceptive environment. I learned how sometimes you can detach your emotions and feelings while working with people. And the biggest learning of all was that don’t let perception of others affect your confidence.
Another difficult and volatile situation that I successfully navigated through, and somewhat also proud of, was when I joined Axtria as an Engagement Manager for one of their largest projects. When I joined Axtria, the project was behind schedule and we were in fire-fighting mode. To meet the deadlines, the team had to consistently put in extra hours. After more than a month of late nights, the team’s patience started to wear off and we saw clear signs of burnout among team members. We saw a few attritions, some started to take unplanned leaves, others simply refused to stay back and work extra hours. Soon things started to escalate, and deliveries got impacted. The client also started to question Axtria’s commitment and capability to deliver the project. Axtria, being a startup then, couldn’t afford a failure. Senior leadership pushed me to ensure proper delivery ele i would fail to even pass my 6 months probation period in my new job.
At the same time, I also felt responsible for my team’s well-being and the work culture being pushed by senior management. While I knew that delivering the project successfully is of paramount importance, I also had full empathy for my team. I spoke to my team with empathy to make sure they realize that I understand their situation. I divided the team into groups and distributed work such that everyone got one complimentary day off in a week. I personally stayed back with the team in the office every night. I also negotiated with leadership and our client to rebase a few deadlines. I also persuaded my leadership for a monthly team party to blow off the steam and organized a few other team bonding activities. After four months of tireless efforts, we as a team delivered the project in time. I was also able to keep the moral of the team high throughout. I can say this confidently because I received a word of appreciation from HR after my team’s connection with HR, a monthly practice that was followed in Axtria.
After the successful delivery, the client sent out an appreciation for all the effort the team put and turned around the situation. Our team received a word of appreciation from the CEO of the company. It personally felt very rewarding. Not only did I deliver the project successfully, I was also able to earn immense love and respect from my team. This experience taught me one of the greatest lessons – you can succeed only as a team and you are only as strong as your team.
Essay 2: What is so special about you that professors and peers would like to have you in the class? (500 words)
Learner by heart, leader by behavior and compassionate by nature. These are some of the qualities that I will bring to the IIMA and enrich the classroom.
Till date I have lived and worked across four countries, and travelled to more than nine countries. I have worked with people from over twelve countries and by working with people from so many different countries, I have gained true insight about the benefits of diversity in a team and how people’s working style is influenced by the culture they belong to. A German will probably want a lot of details and a well thought aggressive plan whereas a French or Italian will frown on the aggressive plan. This international experience has also given me the ability to look at the problem from multiple perspectives. Perspective allows you to be more creative in problem solving and open in the workplace. With these learnings I believe I can add immense value and enrich the classroom case discussions which can enhance my peers’ learning experience at IIM A.
More than anything, I believe international experience has given me life experiences. I always made sure that every country I visited, I went out and tried local cuisines, tried local drinks and interacted with local people. I discovered a French delicacy Foie Gras and Italian drink Sambuca like that. I loved Sambuca and hated Foie Gras. But every experiment, every experience turned into a story and while gaining all these experiences, I also made a global network of colleagues. I will use these experiences to enhance the cultural knowledge of peers and be their local guide during international immersion. I will also be able to help my peers who have international aspirations to expand their network in various countries. The ability to value alternate experience and recognize the importance of different opinions makes me an excellent team player.
The last quality which I believe would make me a valuable addition is that I am good at keeping my team motivated and have fun together even in the difficult times of a pandemic. Last year, when everyone started working from home, as a manager, I felt responsible for keeping my team motivated and connected together. I initiated a biweekly 30-minute call with my team, just to have fun where the only subject of discussion was our personal well-being and team bonding. I was surprised by how much of a crucial stress buster this became. We also organized virtual Christmas and New Year celebrations. Working hard is important but so is mental wellbeing and having fun. In a rigorous PGPX program, we will face difficult situations time and again. My ability to remain calm in stressful situations, take initiatives to be motivated and optimistic, and extend optimism to others around me makes me unique.
I strongly believe that my unique skills, excellent international perspective and ability to harvest them into something consequential makes me an invaluable asset for both professors and peers alike.
Essay 3: Do you have anything special that you would want the Admissions Committee to know? (500 words)
I was raised in a working-class family, where I had the importance of hard work and mutual respect instilled in me from the very beginning. My father had a very lavish and comfortable early childhood, however his fortune turned when my grandfather suddenly passed away. My father was only 12 years, and post my grandfather’s passing away my father had a very tough life. Through sheer hard work my father was able to make a successful career to be the superintendent of police (SP) in uttarakhand. I was both humbled and honored to hear his success after so many struggles. I was fortunate that I did not have to go through any such struggle, but his story has always helped me stay grounded and focus on working hard.
From my early childhood, I was taught to respect people. My father as a senior government officer later had access to a lot of luxuries that most people don’t have. We had a big house, chauffeur-driven cars and lots of servants. However, both me and my brother were not allowed to call any servant or driver by name. We were told that they were my father’s employees, not servants and that my father is their boss, not us. That was the first lesson of my life and foundation of what I would be for the rest of my life. I learned that no work is lesser than others and that our culture is to respect elders, not their profession. That learning instilled humility at my core. Till date I give people elder to me, be it my driver or guard at my office, due respect. I remember, my father once told me that all everyone is looking for, rich or poor, powerful or weak, potent or ineffectual, is respect. It might not mean anything to you but might mean a world to everyone. I took these words to heart.
At the same time, I also abide by the rule that I work to live, I don’t live to work. Career growth is very important, but it cannot come at the cost of personal sacrifices. I want to succeed and reach heights in my career, but not at the cost of life experience. One instance changed my perception of life. It was September 2016. Me and my wife were in Rome celebrating my wife’s birthday. There were certain street musicians playing music, families busy capturing photographs and some just soaking themselves in that moment. At that moment something inside me changed. I realized that it is the experiences that will define the life I live. 30-40 years from now, I will not remember the projects I delivered successfully, the client appreciations I got or the promotions I grabbed.
What I will remember is experiences like these, the lives I touched and the people I have. At that moment I determined that both my personal and professional life would be more than succeeding. It taught me that your success or failure does not make you better or worse than others. It also told me that few successes or few failures will not define you. What will define you is your character and the experiences you lived your life with.
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IIM Ahmedabad PGPX Winning Sample Essays – 2
Essay 1 : Can you walk us through some challenges you faced in the last three years of your work life? Please describe how you were able to overcome them. (500 words)
In my 15+ years of professional career, I distinctly remember the 2 biggest challenges which have shaped me into the empathetic leader I am today.
The first one happened in 2019 when I voluntarily used to take up duty on some holidays to help my erstwhile team with coverage on weekends. I remember, in the last quarter of CY 2019, I was on Incident Manager duty operating out of Bangalore on a weekend overseeing the technical support center operations of Bangalore and Sydney centers. I got a message that one of the female employees has lost consciousness and fallen down at Sydney center.
It was a very unexpected situation to deal with on a weekend especially in the absence of support staff in the empty offices. In my personal and professional life, I always keep my team’s and my safety as the utmost priority, and being unable to help a remote employee in a different company made me very nervous.
First of all, I tried calming down and holding up my nerves. Asked another fellow female employee on the floor to check the sick female employee quickly and take care of her while I informed and tried finding the medical support services number in Australia. I quickly got hold of the Sydney emergency line number and called for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived in around 5-10 minutes and the employee was taken to the hospital for treatment.
For handling this situation, I was appreciated by the management. For me, it was a unique challenge and a learning experience. I am happy and satisfied that I was able to keep myself calm and did the right thing during a time-critical situation. It was a lesson and experience I mentioned as a learning moment in our team meeting and encouraged all my team members to prioritize health and safety first.
The second one happened more recently. Where I am leading an effort from the Cisco Asia Pacific region for one of the product lines in my business vertical. On Dec 9th, 2021, one of the leading software foundations, alerted the global technology community about a security vulnerability discovered in the software framework that is widely used in web applications. Cisco uses it in several different products. This vulnerability has the potential to give a hacker unauthorized access to information and can lead to financial losses for the end customers.
As soon as Cisco became aware of the security vulnerability, emergency operations processes were activated. Given my expertise, I was asked to join the investigation team and provide the inputs regarding the product line I am dealing with while keeping a vigil and liaising with some of the big customers in the Asia Pacific region. As part of the investigation, I led an extensive exercise to quickly close the vulnerability.
To date, we have not detected any intrusion in the Cisco network and this high-pressure situation really brought out the team leader in me who can handle intense situations.
Essay 2 : Tell us what is special about you, which would make you a good addition to the classroom? (500 words)
One of the early failures which taught me the most on how to be a leader was when I got my first managerial role at Tata Communications Limited. As a manager, I was a bit harsh and cutthroat. I was born and brought up in an environment where pure hard work and putting in the hours was the only way forward. Because of this mindset, sometimes I used to doubt the capability of others at work, especially one of my reportees Ankit Sanghani.
Whenever I used to allocate him work, his output felt consistent but I never actually saw him putting in the hours. I developed a negative opinion about his work performance. One day he invited me for dinner at his place. That is when I saw the very humble background he came from and when I understood the context of his situation. I was able to understand that despite all the hardships he was good at collaborating and delivering consistent work which was actually good.
It was my failure to look down upon him just because he was not putting in the extra hours at the office. Over the period of time, we became best friends. At the same time, I failed to recognize that all people are not the same and if you are good at doing smart work by collaboration you can actually achieve great results, it was my personal failure as a first-time leader. Some of the key learnings out of failure were understanding the importance of collaboration, teamwork, and inclusion in diversity. This key learning, later on, set the stage for my life’s biggest achievement when I started dreaming about having a patent to my name.
Having a technology invention patented to your name is the dream of every engineer. But I know I can’t come up with something in isolation on my own. I proactively started collaborating and taking initiatives with my global colleague. I came up with 8 different ideas in the next 3 years but all were rejected by Cisco’s technical committee. Finally, on my 9th attempt as part of a team with members from Argentina and the USA, our idea was approved to be submitted and finally got patented. For the first time in my life, I went outside of India to meet my co-inventors on their invitation. One of my co-inventors happens to be a CTO at Cisco. Today I have 4 patents, 2 papers published to my name all credit to teamwork.
Currently. I am leading the delivery effort for the Dubai Expo event. For my excellent performance, I have been awarded performance awards and bonuses this year.
So given the qualities and skills that I have developed over the years such as innovative mindset, collaboration, teamwork, leadership, inclusion in diversity, and international experience, I believe I would be able to share my unique experiences bringing in a networking industry perspective with the class and it would be a good addition to the class.
Essay 3 : What will a management degree bring to you at this stage of your career? (500 words)
Life is about becoming a better version of yourself, never stop improving yourself while contributing towards the world around you in a positive way – sums up my life.
My journey started in an economically backward South Indian village in a community living well below the poverty line. My father imbibed the ethos of hard work when it came to achieving success in life and my good fortune of growing across various states which provided me the exposure to develop my soft skills in life. Today, I can speak/understand 7 languages, I have 2 patents, 2 IPs, and 2 published papers on the internet. My life story from by-cycling 40 kms every day to save bus fare to becoming a technical leader at a fortune 500 firm like Cisco is a story of hard work, perseverance, and dedication.
Over the last 15 years, I have worked close to 5 years at Tata communications limited (TCL) and then for 10 years at Cisco Systems; each step taken is to get me closer to my immediate short-term goal to transition into a Product Portfolio manager’s role. My journey began at TCL where I garnered fast track promotion based on my performance and delivered a 300% quarter-on-quarter increase in revenue as part of the pre-sales team. Now at Cisco, as a Technical Leader, I lead technical teams of 21 members and manage high value customers.
The next step in my career progression would ideally be that of a Product Portfolio Manager leading go-to-market strategy for multiple product segments. At Cisco, product portfolio management is more akin to venture capital, combining technical prowess and business acumen. Having majored in engineering, my business knowledge to date has been acquired informally through executive mentoring. Now, I especially look forward to fulfilling gaps in my business acumen and leadership perspective which have started to hinder my career progress beyond the technical leader engineering level.
After thorough research, talking to one of my friends and IIMA alumni – Rahul Parekh, I think for a technical leader like me, IIMA’s PGPX would be the perfect stepping stone to upskill my business acumen and leadership skills. I especially look forward to attending courses of the best professors like Amit Karna about Strategy and Arindam Banerjee about Marketing. I would love to join IIMA’s CIIE.co to hone my management, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills. Dedicating a year to the program, especially at this stage of a successful career and family life, is a bold but decisive investment in my future. The residential program would be ideal for personal growth and professional network.
In the long term, I would like to be in a position likely as General Manager or VP of Engineering and Operations. IIMA education at this stage of my career, coupled with my extensive experience in operations and engineering would help me not only reach my short and long-term goals but also allow me to make decisions that would bring life-changing products to market and society.