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ISB PGP Sample Essays

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ISB Application Essays for 2023-24

Essay 1: Provide an honest portrayal of yourself, emphasizing your strengths and weaknesses. Highlight the key elements that have shaped your personal journey. Give relevant illustrations as needed. (400 words max)

Essay 2: Contemplate two distinct situations—one where you experienced success and another where you faced failure. Delve into the personal and interpersonal lessons you learned from these instances. (400 words max)

Optional Essay: Given your previous experience and future aspirations, how do you plan to use the PGP at ISB to fulfil your professional goals? Note: It is not necessary for you to write this essay. Please use this space only if there is something really significant that you would like us to know. (250 words max)

ISB PGP MBA Winning Sample Essays – 1

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 and joined My Wash, as their first employee. I was super excited to feel the uncertainty of a young startup even though the risk involved was huge but I had the confidence to succeed. After 8 months, things got rough as funds dried up and we had to layoff staff. This led to an air of demotivation among the employees. I knew as operations lead, I had to believe and instill confidence in my team if My wash had to have any chance of surviving. I tried to be the source of motivation to other employees and created an emotional connect through open and honest communication with my team about the difficulties as well as achievements through town-hall meetings. My Team and I worked without salary for three months and got rewarded for our confidence and perseverance when the MyWash family got acquired by House Joy. It was a moment of great satisfaction and contentment but I believed I still had a lot to learn from a startup.

After MyWash, I joined Revv to launch and head its Bangalore operations. One of my main learnings from MyWash was the importance of delegation. In Revv, I delegated work more efficiently and focused on applying my strengths in more creative areas than before. For example, I designed and executed the first PR campaign for Revv which was a huge success and got covered in Economic Times and other national dailies.

I care for, but not fear for, my career and this has enabled me to have realistic confidence in my abilities and take calculated risks. Within a short 3 years, I have seen expansion, acquisition, faced employee strikes and threats. I believe all these experiences have given me a lot of learnings about teamwork and leadership which I can share with my class at ISB and become a valuable contributor in my peers learning.

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.

So far, I have experience in developing on ground operations strategies but now I want to move up in value-chain and learn in-depth about the nuances of broader strategic management governing business decisions. I believe the ISB PGP program is a perfect platform for me to gain in-depth knowledge of principles behind strategic management theoretically through curriculum and practically through industry collaborations which would help me land into strategy consulting domain. If given the opportunity, I am especially looking forward to be a part of the Consulting Club. The Mentor-Mentee model is an attractive opportunity for people like me to learn from alumni in reputed consulting firms. Keeping my long-term goal in mind, I also want to understand the finer details of venture capital domain. I think Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club would be a great platform for me to connect with successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and learn the intricacies and nuances of raising funds.

Since ISB can provide a well-crafted and proven path to my short-term and long-term goals, it seems to be the perfect destination for me to start nursing them.


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ISB Winning Sample Essays – 2

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? (400 words max)

“We are the sum-total of our experiences,” says the famous psychologist, Thomas Gilovich. I am a highly self-motivated person and like to take initiatives which create a positive impact in my environment.

I share a symbiotic relationship with my writing, where my thoughts find life in my words and simultaneously, my self-motivation gets fuelled. I wrote my first poem on a beautiful flower at the age of 10, which got published in Hindustan Times. Henceforth, my mother always encouraged me to pursue this hobby. As I grew up, writing became an integral part of my life because it liberated my thoughts and gave a constructive vent to my feelings and observations. I have won multiple awards for my writing with a few notable publications in Hindustan Times. Last year, I got my own book “Light in the Creek” published by Sahitya Bharti Publishing House which is one of my life’s most satisfying achievements.

The other significant aspect of my life is about taking impactful initiatives where again my mother was my first inspiration. My mother is a school teacher and she used to teach underprivileged children for free after school. That is where I also developed a liking towards the cause of teaching. During my graduation, I led the ABC initiative and personally took a pledge to sponsor and mentor 3 girls in their education. With time, I developed a special bond with them and I could notice their growing confidence because of my encouragement. I continued to support them every year and the proudest moment of my life was when all 3 of them graduated high school and went to college in pursuit of their dreams.

I have carried forward these personality traits over to my professional career where I have been successful in driving initiatives at Deloitte which have created lasting impact. For example, one of my projects for our client Omnicare was running behind schedule and budget due to manual errors in code migration process. I proposed the idea of an internal tool which can help automate the process. My senior management liked the idea and the practical initiative. I designed an application to automate the code migration process. The application helped accelerate our project execution and reduced man-hours. Later, I got an opportunity to write an internal white paper on the application for knowledge-sharing purpose and I presented the paper at Deloitte Eminence meet from where the application was approved to be used in 3 Deloitte service lines. I have also kept my passion to bring positive change in my surroundings alive by leading the Deloitte CSR team in association with Literacy India, where throughout the year we organize volunteer visits and events, trying to enlighten the lives of underprivileged children.

Hence, I believe, I will be able to add value to ISB’s class by sharing the sum-total of my diverse wonderful experiences with my classmates during discussions and I look forward to creating positive impact in ISB through student initiatives.

ISB Essay Question 2: Describe your short and long term career plans. How does the PGP fit in with those?

My short-term career plan after MBA is to move towards product management roles in the technology sector and in the long term I plan to lead a technology enterprise.

In the past 4 years, working as a technical consultant with Deloitte, I have gained excellent technical expertise, client-facing skills, and the capability to lead diverse teams. During this time, I have developed keen interest in the strategic roadmap, market research and feature definitions that go behind a product. However, I need to work on my strategic and marketing knowledge to deliver on these business objectives.

Due to recent introduction of disruptive technologies and political events like US presidential elections and Brexit, IT services industry has been navigating troubled waters. IT services players are forced to change strategy from relying on labour arbitrage and service outsourcing to developing niche product offerings. Moreover, with IT rapidly transforming into a business driver, I perceive immense opportunity in the role of a product manager.

After extensive research and detailed conversations with alumni, I believe, ISB can enrich me with this business knowledge but more importantly it would give me a chance to learn it from the best B-school professors visiting from the US, since most of the clients for IT industry are based in the US. I am especially looking forward to the specialization in Information and Technology Management which is particularly aligned with my career objectives. ISB’s PGP program will also provide me access to the vast network of the school’s alumni and faculty which will open new arenas of opportunities for me. Finally, the credibility and branding that I will receive as an ISB alumni are unmatchable and I aspire to earn that brand. Therefore, I believe, ISB’s PGP can put me ahead on the curve and help me achieve my goals.

ISB PGP MBA Winning Sample Essays – 3

ISB Essay Question 1: There will be 900 students in the class of 2021. Why should you be one of them?  (400 words max)

“There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits of your thinking,” this precisely describes my life. I am an explorer with the risk-taking appetite, grit, and persistence required to achieve my desired goals.

My expedition to discover myself has continued since childhood. I am a self-taught rhythm guitarist and giving live performances has made me confident. During my undergraduate, I followed my passion by joining multiple societies such as movie-making, adventure, and sports. However, my experience with an international society called AIESEC was most enriching. I lead multinational teams, organized and attended national and international business forums, and coordinated international exchanges to conduct language classes in local schools. As part of this initiative, I started an annual event, Balkalakar where we celebrate Children’s Day with 500+ underprivileged kids, accompanied by donation-drives of Rs. 1.5 lakh+ and 25 annual scholarships. This engagement has helped me grow holistically. 

I started my career with an Edu-tech company. Working alongside the co-founder helped me take on various roles and challenges. During management discussions, I discovered that the company was facing difficulty controlling costs and wanted a root cause analysis. I took the initiative to plan and run a company-wide ‘cost-center cost-category’ analysis which revealed that travel-desk for sales-team travel-booking was the main culprit. Change in this policy brought a 20% reduction in expenses in the next quarter. Because of its success, my analysis-methodology became a regular company exercise. It was a learning experience for me in data-analysis and insight-building which I still pursue.

Taking my learnings forward, I joined P3 for their national aerospace-training program in partnership with AIRBUS India. I traveled across 14+ states, visiting 100+ engineering-institutes and set up countrywide sales channel. I met institute management, gave seminars, and set up training channel-partners. In 12 months, we trained around 8500 students and established alliances with the National Skill Development Corporation and Indian Society for Technical Education. I facilitated the signing of MOUs for the P3-Dassault Aerospace Centre of Excellence in 5 institutes. It was humbling to share the stage with the Skill-Development Union Minister, Mr. Anant Kumar Hegde to award students who made it into aerospace-industry. 

Within a short span of 4 years, working directly with founders and senior management, I have gained first-hand business-management experience at start-ups and multinationals. Finally, with the experience of building a company from scratch at 26, I am confident of contributing value to the class of 2020.

ISB Essay Question 2: What will you be doing in 2025 and 2030? How will the ISB PGP program help you to achieve these goals?

By 2025 I see myself in a technology product management role and by 2030 I see myself leading a business unit at a major technology giant or starting something of my own.

In the past 4 years, I have been fortunate to have worked on a variety of technologies at both a product company as well as a boutique technology consulting firm. These roles required me to lead diverse teams and interface directly with clients, understanding business requirements, and ensuring the products built achieve desired results. This helped me develop an understanding of and a liking towards technical aspects of the software development life cycle, strategic thinking, market research, and design thinking that go behind a product.

Currently, India is seeing a boom in the technology sector, with companies like Paytm, OYO, Udaan, etc. taking the world by storm with products that have disrupted traditional business models. There has been a paradigm shift in major consulting firms also, such as Deloitte and Accenture, which are aggressively employing technology as a means to deliver end to end business transformations across the whole spectrum of industries. Hence, I see great potential in the technology space in India. ISB with its core courses like a strategy for the digital economy and specialization like Information and Technology Management will provide a great launchpad into this dynamic technology space. 

In my interactions with clients and MBA graduate colleagues, I have realized that I lack a firm understanding of business fundamentals, especially in finance and operations. Leading a team of 60+, I struggle to strike a balance between the day-to-day operational activities and long term direction for the company. Based on my research and alum interactions, I feel ISB with its focus on case-study based pedagogy, innovation and faculty not only from the best business schools across the world but also thought leaders in finance, economics, and technology will groom me into a well-rounded business professional. I believe undergoing the ISB’s PGP program, which focuses on interpersonal skills and critical and integrative thinking will help me develop strong vision and insights along with corresponding executable milestones.

ISB’s PGP program will provide me access to the prestigious global alumni network, which, I am confident, will open new avenues for me. Moreover, I aspire to gain credibility and the brand of being an ISB alumnus. Hence, I believe, ISB will help me achieve my goals.

ISB PGP MBA Winning Sample Essays – 4

ISB Essay Question 1: There will be 900 students in the class of 2021. Why should you be one of them?  (400 words max)

“When we fall we learn to pick our self up. Don’t be afraid to fail”. My dad said these words when I was starting Engineering, right before he had a stroke. He recovered slowly but he was never the same person again. I always looked to him for advice and when I needed him to be my rock, I had to be his.

  I was a shy and studious kid up, then but when I entered college, I started cutting class, drinking, avoiding studies, exploring a side of me that never existed. I formed a rock band, started rapping, also started a bike club. Rapping was my way of expressing myself as I felt nobody would listen if I just spoke and Biking was another way to outrun life. Looking back, I realized that without my father’s guidance, I lost my way. I fell but I have no regrets because I realized the truth in my dad’s words. My grades dipped continuously, and in the final year, I was the last to be placed at Infosys. Being the last one to get a job made me realize the lost path I was on but I believe, I have picked myself up from that point in life. 

I outperformed everyone in my training and based on my performance. I was put in the field of AI, test automation and Robotics, and my second journey began there. In my first project, I proposed to implement a new automation framework using which we completed the entire code regression five days ahead of schedule. Within a year, I was presenting audit reports, chairing stand up calls and organizing daily meetings with American Express(client). I always found the strategy discussions with Amex to be the most exciting and interesting part of my day. That’s when I realized I was leaning more towards business development. In my next job at Wells Fargo, I focused more on learning about the business aspects of the projects and my initiatives helped me won the Best Debutante Award.

In my life, I have failed, made mistakes, learned from them, overcame hurdles and proposed innovative solutions. Although looking back I think Rapping and Biking were a bad habit but those helped me develop a fearless and confident personality. Now, I believe with my life and leadership experiences I can bring value and diversity to the class of 2021.

ISB Essay Question 2: What will you be doing in 2025 and 2030? How will the ISB PGP program help you to achieve these goals?

When I started with Infosys and Wells Fargo, I was a foot soldier while coding and preparing scripts, I was a planner while planning a 10-day sprint schedule, from there I grew up to be a design thinker and a leader responsible for the team. All these roles were the defining bricks of my career. When placed one upon the other they complete the professional I am today. This incremental pattern of learning that I had will always be the foundation on which my future will be built. So with my IT consulting experience and an international client management background, in the short term, I aspire to transition into a product manager’s role at a tech firm and by 2030 I would like to have my own startup.

Though all my work experience was of immense value I feel I haven’t yet developed a strong strategic mindset and there are many evident cracks in my knowledge base when it comes to handling business as a manager. I started a factory of my own manufacturing medical equipment last year but we had to shut it down only after 4 months. I realized my mistakes like inadequate market research and misguided client targeting. I feel getting an MBA would provide me the necessary tools to overcome the basic challenges of business and operations. I wish to see my MBA experience as a bridge that connects my dreams to my goal of being successful as an industrialist and an entrepreneur.

There are few business schools other than ISB that employ the best processes when it comes to imparting a world-class business education. During my corresponded with my friend Sravya (Co PGP ’19), she especially spoke about the Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) which is hugely exciting to me. You have a chance to apply your problem-solving skills to real-world business problems which is the best possible way to learn. The annual management fest ‘Advaitha’ also sounded like the perfect vehicle for the exchange of ideas, business innovation and a great way to challenge our business acumen. Ever since school, I have discovered that pressure and competition get the best out of me and this event  seems like the perfect combination of both.

I genuinely believe that a good business school doesn’t only impart knowledge but also imparts business acumen and that’s precisely the reason why ISB could help me achieve all my dreams.

ISB PGP MBA Winning Sample Essays – 5

 ISB Essay Question 1: There will be 900 students in the class of 2021. Why should you be one of them?  (400 words max)

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

I have been blessed with many things in life but unfortunately, academic smarts were not one of them. I never developed an affinity with mathematics and couldn’t manage to get science or commerce in high school. I took up arts and was ridiculed by society friends and aunties for taking up Arts. It wasn’t a good or successful phase of life and I lost many friends, but it wasn’t a fatal failure either. I managed to graduate at the top of my class in Arts and completed an MBA in Rural Management. The biggest irony in my life is that I ended up working in the financial service industry where an affinity towards mathematics is considered to be a must-have skill.

My journey in the financial service industry started under the guidance of Mr. Ramesh Iyer (MD of Mahindra Finance). As part of the project, I lived in an Adivasi village to gather insights into villagers’ understanding of Finance. It was not the academic smarts that impressed the villagers, I had to dress up as a villager just to talk to them and develop a rapport with them. Thus, I learned the first sales lesson, i.e., developing rapport and trust with the clients.

My second learning of sales happened with a plywood manufacturer where I worked all day walking foot with a backpack loaded with plywood samples. I cold-called, gate crashed, and showed up at potential clients’ offices and faced many rejections but did not give up. I learned to turn up every day with courage, and boldness.

It’s these learnings that have held me craft a successful career at Kotak Securities, where I managed & advised “High Net worth Individuals” on their investment portfolio. I was awarded the “Star Performer” for contributing the highest cash margin of Rs.200 Crores and won a fully sponsored trip to the Maldives.

With 3 years in financial services, I have faced rejections on the face and on calls, still, I did not give up and turned up every day. I believe all these experiences have given me a lot of learnings about sales and leadership which I can share with my class at ISB and become a valuable contributor in the peer learning process.

ISB Essay Question 2: What will you be doing in 2025 and 2030? How will the ISB PGP program help you to achieve these goals?

In my stint of three years at Kotak Securities as a Relationship Manager, I have developed key professional and personal skills and learned how to deal with High Net worth Individuals (HNI’s) and advise them on investments. After my MBA from ISB, I would like to return back into the personal finance advisory space. In 2025, I would like to see myself as a Relationship Manager in the Private Banking department at a leading Investment bank like JP Morgan or Credit Suisse and in 2030 I would like to see myself at the leadership role like a Vice President of a private banking team.

My role as a Relationship Manager at Kotak, my day job revolved around bringing in new clientele for the firm, fixing meetings with HNI clients and developing a trustworthy relationship for long term engagement. Once a sale is closed I would receive a cheque of investment value. Through this, I honed my communication and client management skills. I have also developed soft skills needed to develop networks within the HNI community.

However, I feel in order to grow my career further in the industry, I need to enhance and acquire in-depth academic knowledge of finance as a subject. Also, I would like to build leadership and team coordination skills in order to lead bigger client engagements.

At ISB, I would like to pursue finance specialization and be an active member of the Finance club where I can get an opportunity to learn about the dynamics of financial instruments and investment strategies. Also, with the help of Professors like Prassana Tantri and Mrinal Mishra, I can get detailed learnings into specific financial products like derivatives to create a differential value proposition for my clients. Also, at ISB I would like to take initiative in organizing events like CEO speaker series, where I can interact and learn from industry leaders to build on my own leadership skills. And finally, the ISB’s credible brand will help in developing repute and unlock networking opportunities within the private banking community. 

After successful completion of a stint at ISB along with my prior experience in the industry, I am confident that I can achieve my desired goals and graduate as a dedicated, knowledgeable, and qualified resource suitable for a Private Banking arm at a leading Investment bank.

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