The ISB PGP (MBA)
Rankings | Class Profile | Employment Report | Sample Essays | Interview Questions
The Indian School of Business (ISB) develops global leaders. It gives an insight on emerging economies and their unique business challenges.
This carefully-crafted one-year programme incorporates practical industry applications with a rigorous, cutting-edge, research-based curriculum. This has transformed several mid-career professionals to global business leaders of today and tomorrow. The PGP is meant to hone your skills and challenge conventional wisdom.
The academic model at ISB seeks to create global leaders in business and society. A student of the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) is exposed to a variety of learning methods, be it team-based learning or individual case studies. As a student, you can decide your own academic gradient, based on your work experience, academic background and your appetite for a challenge.
ISB Essay Question 1: If we were to admit just one more candidate to the Postgraduate Programme (PGP) at the ISB, why should it be you? (500 Words)
“Noone told you when to run, you missed the starting gun” – Pink Floyd
“There are two paths you can go by but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Led Zeppelin
The above lines define my life in a nutshell. I come from a family where access to best education guidance was scarce due to which I didn’t even get to know about IIT-JEE till late – missed the starting gun.
But then after a late start, BITS Pilani happened and I was left with no regrets. After Graduation, I joined Reliance Industries (RIL). From the start, I was demotivated to see the rigidity of the monotonous 9-5 job. There was very little scope to take initiatives, learn and outshine. I always wanted to be in a role where I can take initiatives, implement my ideas and learn from my failures and successes. In 2015, startup ecosystem in India was on boom and I felt a startup would be a perfect place for me – time to change the road I was on.
I thereby quit RIL …continue reading here.
ISB Essay Question 2: Describe your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those?
My immediate post-PGP goal is to join a large consulting firm or a corporate house in Strategy and Operations domain. I have three and a half years of work experience, mostly in early stage startups, where I have tasted good success in team building, running on ground operations and managing unit economics.
But I always felt most challenged and excited during brainstorming sessions on business strategy with start-up founders. I believe, a strategy consulting role would provide me exposure to diverse sets of challenging situations faced by various businesses and would require me to come up with novel solutions. Such experiences would be helpful in tackling similar challenges while pursuing my entrepreneurial ambitions in long term…Continue Reading Here
The ISB interview was scheduled for the afternoon. I reached with about an hour to spare and that’s plenty!
My panel was running behind the schedule, thanks to some board meeting they had to attend. But this gave me a chance to interact with a bunch of other candidates (well-spoken people!)
I was jittery when I arrived but we all quickly got immersed in a chat and by the time they called me in for the interview, I was feeling very at ease.
Given that the interviews are almost unpredictable, one piece of advice that would always work is to interact with the other candidates. Nothing settles you down as well as this does. And who doesn’t want to make new friends?
The interview started with a light moment, thankfully, and from there it was all business. It was a two-member panel, the nicest people I have met in a while. They were very well spoken and paid great attention to everything I had to say, even when it was prolonged.
1. (As expected) Take us through your profile: I was preparing to deliver my 30 second pitch, but it somehow turned into a longer response (close to 5 minutes)
Guys so keep a longer introduction ready, just in case!
2. A long discussion ensued here about some of my career decisions. They wanted to know the reasoning behind choices I have made. They seemed to nod in agreement even when I wasn’t completely convinced with my responses (not complaining!)
3. My current work is in Business Intelligence and I am relatively new to this field, and they wanted to know if this was a deliberate shift, at this point in my career (I have around 6 years of IT and social experience)
4. The exact nature of my current work (very exact here)
5. Post MBA career goals: This area took up the most part of the discussion. We have debated many possibilities about my goals (the industry, function etc.)…Continue Reading Here
ISB PGP Application Essays
ISB Essay 1: There will be 900 students in the class of 2021. Why should you be one of them? (400 words max)
How to approach this essay: There are many ways to approach this essay. But we recommend telling two stories that showcase your personality. Pick one personal story and one work-related story, so that it presents a holistic picture of your personality. Now, if you’ve mentioned some achievements in your profile, you might think you shouldn’t talk about the same stuff again. But here’s the thing: Sometimes, the story behind an achievement can reveal a lot that the achievement itself does not. The story can talk about what makes something an achievement rather than it simply being something you once did. But more importantly, the story can show the AdCom what drives you, what you’re capable of, and what makes you who you are. And that’s what they’re expecting from this essay, too. The question then is, how do you tell these stories for maximum effect? We recommend that you should use the START framework to tell your stories in the best manner possible. The START framework is: Situation: Explain the background in which this story takes place Task: Even if you achieved something as a result of team work, mention what your specific contribution was Action: Write about what steps you took to complete your task Results: Elaborate on the direct outcomes of your actions Takeaways: Talk about what you learned from that experience Before you start writing the essays, sit down with a bunch of post-it notes and do this:
Write down everything you would like to say about yourself, one idea on each post-it. Ask your friends or family for help if you have trouble recollecting stories that highlight your strengths.
Structure: To ensure that your stories make a great impression, you will need to structure them carefully. Since there are two stories in your essay, here’s a format that we recommend you should follow:
- Introduction – 50 words. This is the preamble to the essay.
- Story #1 – 150 words. Set the context, describe the incident, and highlight the personality trait you want to emphasize through the story.
- Story #2 – 150 words. Repeat what you did for story #2.
- Closing – 50 words. In this conclusion, try to come back full circle and tie this to what you opened the essay with.
Note that a well-rounded essay will get you extra brownie points for driving the central point home.
Things to Avoid: If there is stuff you have mentioned in detail elsewhere in your application then do not rewrite it here. Just focus on the subjective parts of the story so you can reveal the person behind the numbers. Explaining in too much detail – Wasting valuable space explaining the problem in so much detail that you are left with no space to explain your personal takeaways and contribution. Remember that the details can be explained in the interview.
Stuffing – Trying to mention too many qualities and ending up with nothing memorable. For example, if you say you are empathetic, creative, passionate, honest, responsible, kind, courageous, self-aware, a life-long learner, a good listener, a strong leader… You get the drift, right? It’ll never work! Stick to just 2-3 adjectives and drive home the point. Keep in mind that there is a word limit to this essay. You have to be able to say everything you need to within that much.
Essay Question 2: What will you be doing in 2025 and 2030? How will the ISB PGP help you to achieve these goals? (400 words)
How to approach this essay: There are three parts to this essay:
- Your 2025 Goal
- Your 2030 Goal, and
- How you think ISB’s PGP will help you.
So, you need to figure out three answers.For the first answer, you need to start by identifying your career goal for 2025. Here are 2 things to think about to help you arrive at your answer:
Function: Figure out the role in which you see yourself. Do you want to be in Consulting, Finance, Marketing, Operations, or HR? Pick any one you like!
Industry: Since any function will have applications in every industry, pick out which one you want to be in, too.Once you elaborate on your 2025 goal, the 2030 goal becomes sort of self-evident.That will take care of the second part of the question. We recommend not getting into too much detail on the 2030 goal because you can only write 400 words. The AdCom will be okay with getting an idea that you know where you’re heading. To address the third part of the question, spend some time researching how ISB will help you meet your goals. Remember, ISB also wants prospective candidates to know that it can help them meet their goals. So, a significant amount of their own content could give you the answer to how this PGP will help you. Read what the ISB website says and go with the flow from there on. Soon enough, you will have answers to the “what you need to say” part of this essay. Now, we move on to talking about how you should say it for maximum effect.
Structure: The three things to talk about in this essay are your 2025 goal, your 2030 goal, and how the PGP will help you to achieve them.
To do justice to each answer, here’s how we suggest you should divide your essay:
- Career Goals – 150 to 200 words
- How this PGP will help you achieve your goals – 200 to 250 words
Since this is a rather direct question, you can get straight to the point in your answer. Talk about the job you want to do and the kind of company you want to be working for in 2025. It’s critical to mention the function, industry, company size, and location you’ve thought of.
Don’t get into too much detail about the 2030 goal; just make sure that it logically follows your 2025 goal. Try to wrap up both the answers within 200 words.
The next part is the most important; it’s about how ISB’s PGP will help you. Start by talking about the tools you will need to have to achieve your goal. For example, if you have a background in marketing, you’ll need to understand how Finance, Operations, and Logistics work to get into a management role. So, you need cross-functional knowledge. Similarly, you also need leadership and team management skills. Talk about how the PGP will help you gain these things. Say something about how ISB’s vast network and brand value will help speed up the whole process of achieving your goals. Conclude with a single line that summarizes the essence of what your essay is about.
Things to Avoid: There are many obvious things that aren’t even worth mentioning here, like making grammatical mistakes or typographical errors. We’re assuming you’ll be avoiding those things. Here’s the slightly less obvious stuff you need to actively avoid doing:
Set Unrealistic Goals – Make sure your career goal is lofty enough to make ISB believe that you wouldn’t achieve it without their PGP. But make sure that it’s also realistic enough that it sounds like it can be done. This makes it all easier to believe and makes you look like a person with a plan.
Repeat Things – Reiterating something for emphasis is quite different from repeating the same thing. When you reiterate, it is adding more value or significance. But repeating is where you’re adding nothing new by saying the same thing. There isn’t enough space for you to do this here!
Be Vague – Whether it is in your praise for ISB or in your description of your career goals, make sure you’re specific. Wanting to “dedicate the year to learning, self-discovery, and exploration of possible careers” may sound very cool, but it shows the exact absence of focus that ISB will want to avoid