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Columbia Executive MBA Application Essays 2024-25

The first short answer and Essays 1 and 2 are required.

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for a media company”
“Continue my career within investor relations”
“Launch a data-management start-up”

Short Answer Question 2:

For those that do not live in the NY tri-state area, please briefly share your plans for attending class from that distance. (50 words maximum)

Essay 1:
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words maximum)

Essay 2:
Please describe a professional situation where you faced a particular challenge. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience about your own strengths and personal development needs? (500 words maximum)

Optional Essay:
Is there something else you feel would be helpful for the Admissions Committee to know? An optional third essay will allow you to discuss any topics that do not fall within the purview of the required essays. These might include, but are not limited to:

Adverse circumstances in your background
An exciting side venture in which you are working
Areas of concern in your academic record
Or just a fun fact!
This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (500 words maximum)

Columbia Executive MBA Winning Sample Essay -1

Essay 1
Throughout my 12-year career in IT project management and digital marketing, I have consistently sought opportunities to drive innovation and lead transformative projects.
Starting my journey in Lima, Peru, and expanding my expertise across New Zealand, Australia, the US, and China, I have gained a deep understanding of global market dynamics and the strategic role of marketing in business growth.

In the next three to five years, my goal is to transition into a strategic marketing manager role within a leading global technology company. My experience as a Digital Marketing Lead at Speakdata has honed my ability to develop and execute data-driven marketing strategies, improve conversion rates, and enhance social media engagement. I aim to leverage these skills to lead comprehensive marketing initiatives, focusing on driving brand growth, customer engagement, and market expansion.

My long-term ambition is to rise to the position of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Vice President of Marketing in a top-tier technology firm. In this role, I envision leading global marketing strategies, fostering innovation, and driving business transformation. My dream is to create marketing campaigns that not only achieve business objectives but also inspire and resonate with diverse audiences worldwide.

The Columbia Executive MBA program is pivotal to achieving these goals. The program’s rigorous curriculum will provide me with advanced knowledge in strategic management, finance, and leadership. Courses like “Global Marketing Strategy” and “Advanced Marketing Planning & Strategy” will equip me with the skills to develop and implement high-impact marketing strategies. Furthermore, the program’s emphasis on leadership development will help refine my ability to lead cross-functional teams and drive organizational change.

Columbia’s diverse and collaborative community offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn from peers and faculty with varied backgrounds and perspectives. Engaging with this network will provide me with new insights and innovative ideas, essential for driving marketing excellence in a dynamic global market.

In conclusion, my career goals over the next three to five years and my long-term dream job align with my passion for strategic marketing and leadership. The Columbia Executive MBA program will be instrumental in equipping me with the skills, knowledge, and network needed to achieve these aspirations and make a significant impact in the technology sector.

Essay 2

One of the most challenging professional situations I faced occurred during my tenure at Vodafone New Zealand. As a Senior Marketing Automation Specialist, I was tasked with increasing lead generation and improving email open rates amidst declining customer engagement and increasing competition.

The marketing team was struggling with low engagement rates from our email campaigns, which were crucial for lead generation and customer retention. The existing strategies did not resonate with our target audience, and there was a noticeable decline in open rates and conversions. I took a data-driven approach to tackle this challenge. First, I conducted a comprehensive analysis of the existing email campaigns, identifying patterns and areas for improvement. I segmented our customer base based on demographics, behaviour, and preferences to tailor our messages more effectively. Additionally, I implemented A/B testing to optimize subject lines, content, and send times.
These efforts led to a 30% increase in lead generation and a 20% improvement in email open rates. The targeted campaigns resonated better with our audience, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates. This success not only boosted our marketing performance but also reinforced the importance of data-driven decision-making in our strategies.

This experience highlighted my strengths in analytical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic planning. I learned the value of leveraging data to inform marketing decisions and the importance of understanding customer needs to drive engagement. Additionally, it underscored the need for continuous learning and adaptation in the fast-paced digital marketing landscape.

However, the challenge also revealed areas for personal development. I realized the importance of enhancing my leadership skills to effectively lead cross-functional teams and drive collaborative efforts. While I successfully managed the technical aspects of the project, leading a diverse team through this transformation required a deeper understanding of team dynamics and motivational strategies. To address this, I have actively sought opportunities to improve my leadership skills, including taking on mentorship roles and participating in leadership development programs. These experiences have helped me become a more empathetic and effective leader, capable of inspiring and guiding teams through complex challenges.

In conclusion, the challenge at Vodafone was a defining moment in my career, reinforcing my strengths and highlighting areas for growth. It provided valuable insights into the importance of data-driven marketing and effective leadership, both of which are crucial for my future career aspirations. The Columbia Executive MBA program will further equip me with the knowledge and skills to excel in these areas, enabling me to achieve my professional goals and make a meaningful impact in the marketing field.

Optional Essay

While my professional journey has been marked by significant achievements, there is one aspect of my background that I would like to share with the Admissions Committee. My decision to immigrate to New Zealand was driven by a deep-seated desire to seek better opportunities and challenge myself in a new environment.

Leaving Peru and moving to New Zealand was a daunting decision, compounded by language barriers and cultural adjustments. During my initial months in New Zealand, I worked as a housekeeper, cleaner, and labourer to support myself while I learned English and navigated the job market. Despite sending over 500 job applications and facing numerous rejections, I remained determined to break into the marketing and technology sector.

My perseverance paid off when I secured a temporary position at Vodafone. Through hard work and dedication, I proved my capabilities, leading to a full-time role as a Senior Marketing Automation Specialist. This opportunity allowed me to leverage my skills and drive impactful marketing strategies, significantly improving lead generation and engagement rates.
Inspired by my journey, I co-founded the NGO “La Quinta de la Felicidad” to mentor and support underprivileged youth in Peru. Through this initiative, we have helped over 200 students gain admission to universities with scholarships, providing them with opportunities for a better future. My commitment to education and mentorship continues to drive me, as I believe in the transformative power of education and the importance of giving back to the community.

The Columbia Executive MBA program represents the next step in my journey. The program’s emphasis on global perspectives, leadership development, and innovation aligns with my aspirations to drive strategic marketing initiatives and lead transformative projects in the technology sector. The diverse and collaborative community at Columbia will provide me with invaluable opportunities to learn from and contribute to a network of accomplished professionals.

In sharing this aspect of my background, I hope to provide a deeper understanding of my resilience, determination, and commitment to making a positive impact. The challenges I have overcome have shaped my character and fueled my drive to succeed. I am excited about the opportunity to further my education at Columbia and contribute to the vibrant community, leveraging my experiences to inspire and support my peers.


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Columbia Executive MBA Winning Sample Essay -2

Essay 1
Over the next three to five years, my career goal is to transition from my current role as a Senior Quality Engineer and Team Lead at Comcast to a strategic leadership position within the same organization, focusing on digital product development and strategy. I aim to become a Strategic Domain Lead, overseeing the development and implementation of innovative digital solutions that drive revenue growth and enhance customer experience.

In the short term, I plan to leverage my technical expertise and leadership experience to spearhead projects that align with Comcast’s strategic goals. I will focus on initiatives that drive digital transformation, enhance operational efficiency, and foster innovation. This role will enable me to develop a deeper understanding of business strategy, customer needs, and market trends, all of which are critical for my long-term career aspirations.

In the long term, my dream job is to become a Chief Product Officer (CPO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at a leading media and entertainment company such as Netflix or Disney. In this capacity, I envision driving the strategic direction of the company’s digital platforms, ensuring they are at the forefront of technological innovation and market trends. I aspire to lead large, cross-functional teams in creating digital products that are not only innovative and profitable but also accessible and inclusive, amplifying diverse voices and perspectives.

To achieve these goals, I need to acquire a structured business education that complements my technical background. The Executive MBA program at Columbia Business School offers the ideal platform to bridge this gap. The program’s rigorous curriculum, focusing on leadership, strategy, and innovation, will provide me with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the media and entertainment industry. Additionally, the opportunity to learn from esteemed faculty and collaborate with a diverse cohort of accomplished professionals will enhance my strategic thinking and leadership capabilities.

Columbia’s strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation aligns perfectly with my career aspirations. The access to the school’s extensive network of alumni, industry leaders, and resources will be invaluable in pursuing my long-term goals. Furthermore, the program’s location in New York City, a global hub for media and technology, provides unparalleled opportunities for industry exposure and professional growth.

In summary, my career objectives over the next three to five years are to advance into a strategic leadership role within Comcast, focusing on digital transformation and innovation. My long-term dream job is to become a CPO or CTO at a leading media and entertainment company, driving the development of cutting-edge digital products. The Executive MBA program at Columbia Business School is instrumental in achieving these goals, providing the education, network, and opportunities needed to excel in the dynamic and evolving media industry.

Essay 2
One of the most significant challenges I faced in my professional career occurred during my tenure at Comcast as a Team Lead for the Partner Platform project. This project, one of the highest revenue-earning initiatives for Comcast Advertising, involved managing relationships and coordinating efforts among multiple partners, including AT&T, Dish, Verizon, and DIRECTV.

The project was at a critical phase, requiring the integration of various ad content management systems while ensuring minimal disruption to ongoing operations. As the team lead, I was responsible for orchestrating the efforts of a 7-member Agile Scrum team, collaborating with product managers, business stakeholders, and third-party vendors.

The primary challenge was managing the complexity and scale of the project, which was compounded by tight deadlines and high expectations from stakeholders. Midway through the project, we encountered a significant technical issue that threatened to delay our timelines and increase costs. The issue involved a legacy ad insertion job that was critical to our operations but was proving difficult to modernize without causing disruptions.

To address this challenge, I spearheaded an innovative approach to automate the ad content management app validation process, which reduced manual efforts by 85% and resulted in cost savings of $65,000 per month. I also led the team in developing a strategy to replace the legacy ad insertion jobs, ultimately reducing project expenses by 30%.

The outcome was successful; we delivered the project on time and within budget, significantly enhancing the efficiency and scalability of the Partner Platform. This success not only reinforced our team’s credibility but also contributed to the project’s annual revenue of $2.5 billion.

Through this experience, I learned several important lessons about my strengths and areas for personal development. One of my key strengths is my ability to lead and motivate cross-functional teams in high-pressure situations. My problem-solving skills and innovative thinking enabled us to overcome significant technical challenges and deliver a successful project.

However, this experience also highlighted the need for me to develop a deeper understanding of business strategy and stakeholder management. While my technical expertise was crucial, I realized that a more comprehensive understanding of business principles would have enabled me to better align our technical solutions with the broader strategic goals of the organization. This insight has driven my decision to pursue an Executive MBA, as I seek to enhance my business acumen and leadership skills to complement my technical background.

In conclusion, the challenge of managing the Partner Platform project at Comcast was a pivotal experience in my career. It underscored my strengths in leadership, innovation, and problem-solving, while also highlighting the need for further development in business strategy and stakeholder management. These lessons have been instrumental in shaping my career goals and my decision to pursue an Executive MBA at Columbia Business School.

Optional Essay
While my resume and essays provide a comprehensive view of my professional journey and aspirations, there are a few additional aspects of my background that I believe would be helpful for the Admissions Committee to know.

Firstly, I grew up in a challenging socio-economic environment in India. My early experiences of poverty and limited access to resources have profoundly influenced my values and career aspirations. These challenges instilled in me a strong sense of resilience, determination, and empathy. They have also fueled my passion for leveraging technology and media to create positive social impact and provide opportunities for underrepresented communities.

One of my proudest achievements outside of my professional career is co-founding “Rhythm & Taal,” a nonprofit dance institute dedicated to promoting classical Indian dance among underprivileged children. This initiative not only provides free dance education but also empowers children by boosting their confidence and fostering a sense of community. The joy and transformation I have witnessed in these children have been incredibly rewarding and reaffirm my commitment to social impact.

Additionally, my role as a National Diversity Champion at Comcast has been a significant and fulfilling part of my journey. I have had the privilege of working on several initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization. One notable project was the launch of Indigenous@Comcast, an Employee Resource Group focused on amplifying Indigenous voices and fostering an inclusive workplace. Leading the community services pillar for this ERG has been a deeply enriching experience, allowing me to contribute to meaningful change and support underrepresented communities.

Furthermore, I want to address a gap in my professional career from 2012 to 2014, which was due to a medical emergency involving my husband. During this period, I had to leave my job in India and move to the US to care for him. This experience, while challenging, taught me the importance of perseverance and adaptability. Despite the setback, I utilized the time to hone my skills through online courses and volunteer work, which eventually helped me secure a job in the US and resume my career trajectory.

Lastly, a fun fact about me is that I am a trained classical dancer. Dancing has been a lifelong passion and a source of joy and balance in my life. It has taught me discipline, creativity, and the importance of expressing oneself.

In conclusion, my background, extracurricular activities, and personal experiences have significantly shaped who I am today. They have instilled in me a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to making a positive impact in both my professional and personal life. I believe these experiences, combined with the skills and knowledge I will gain from the Executive MBA program at Columbia, will enable me to achieve my career goals and contribute meaningfully to society.

Columbia Executive MBA Letter of Recommendation Questions 2023-24

The Admissions Committee requires one letter of professional appraisal; ideally this should be from your current supervisor. First-time applicants require one recommendation. Reapplicants are required to submit one new recommendation. If you are unable to secure a recommendation from your direct supervisor, please submit a statement of explanation in the Employment section of your application. Beyond your direct supervisor, other recommender options include: a former direct supervisor or another professional associate, senior to you, who can share their insights on your candidacy.

Please note that Columbia Business School and several of our peer institutions use similar, if not identical, recommendation questions. This is an effort on our part to make the process easier for your recommender. We expect that you, the applicant, will not participate in the drafting of your recommendation. When entering contact information for recommenders, please use their institutional or professional email address. We ask that the recommender upload their recommendation on letterhead, whenever possible.

References submitted from personal or anonymous email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, 123.com, 163.com, qq.com etc.) will be subject to your admission being rescinded if significant discrepancies are found. Please ensure that if admitted, your recommender is aware that they will be contacted via email and phone in order to verify your recommendation.

After you have contacted your reference about writing a recommendation and completed the form on the Recommendations page of the online application, an email will be sent to your recommender with instructions and a web address they must visit in order to complete your recommendation. You will be notified via email when an online recommendation is received. Applications are not considered complete until all required information is submitted; this includes your recommendation. Note that the recommendation must be received by the Admissions Office within one week of your application submission.

We ask the recommender to consider the following guidelines when writing their recommendation (recommended limit – 1000 words):

1. How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

  1. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

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