NUS MBA Application Essays 2020-21
Essay 1: How do you plan to spend your time on The NUS MBA to transform yourself personally & professionally? Briefly describe your experience to date, and how this and The NUS MBA can help you achieve your mid and long term career goals. (350 words)
Essay 2: How have people, events, and/or situations in your life influenced who you are today? (250 words)
Optional Essay: Is there any additional information relevant to your application that you’d like to share with the Admissions Committee? (200 words)
NUS MBA Winning Sample Essays – 1
NUS Essay 1: How do you plan to spend your time on The NUS MBA to transform yourself personally & professionally? Briefly describe your experience to date, and how this and The NUS MBA can help you achieve your mid and long term career goals. (350 words)
“Almost 1/3rd of the food produced in the world is wasted while 690 million people go hungry globally.”
I started my career as a software engineer but for the last 7 years, I have dedicated my life to social causes and worked at grassroots levels to ensure every child gets an education and no one sleeps hungry.
I am currently the founder of – “Waste No More”- an initiative focused on eliminating food hunger in Indonesia. We currently have partnerships with more than 10 large scale donors like grocery chains and hotels to collect and distribute approximately 1500 meals every week in Jakarta and its satellite city. We currently reach out to 5000+ beneficiaries across 22 communities. Now my long-term goal is to build a social enterprise mobilising technology-driven solutions to reduce food wastage in South East Asia and Indian Subcontinent.
As the founder, I wear multiple hats, but I spend significant time growing two critical aspects of our program – building partnerships with food donors and expanding the volunteer base. I have extensive experience in leading operations at the grass-root level for social organisations. Now in the short term, I want to upskill my business acumen, learn the strategic approach to continuously grow, and understand how to lead social enterprises to global success. I believe that an MBA from NUS followed by an experience of managing program operations at international organizations like Gates Foundation can get me exposure and help me understand how to scale social initiatives.
NUS MBA Essay 2: How have people, events, and/or situations in your life influenced who you are today? (250 words)
Back in 2013, when I was working at Accenture, my watchman came to my house and explained how his eldest son had failed 3rd standard in primary school for the 2nd time. He asked for a little help in teaching and motivating his kids to learn.
While I had no formal background in teaching, I agreed to teach and see if I could motivate them. I started teaching his son and a few other 5-8-year-old kids at home every day. That 1 year proved to be a powerful lesson for me in the virtues of patience and perseverance. Capturing the imagination of students who had lost interest in studies required me to think outside the box and come up with unconventional methods of teaching. Finally, I was able to build the conceptual foundation which helped these students pass their exam.
I was teaching these kids how to learn and pass mathematics exams but in turn these kids ended up giving me much more return. After seeing the smile of their faces and gratitude I got from their parents, I found a new purpose in life, and the confidence to create a real positive impact. This inspired me to bid adieu to my prospering IT career and work in the social sector full time. It was not easy to convince my parents and husband of my decision to switch sectors especially when I was taking almost 70% pay cut.
But with my newfound purpose in life, I was determined to chart a new course for myself. Looking back at all the impact that I created, I feel proud and my family is now very supportive of my career and the work I am doing.
NUS MBA OPTIONAL ESSAY : Is there any additional information relevant to your application that you’d like to share with the Admissions Committee? (200 words)
I would like to use this opportunity and tell the admissions committee about my full-time work at Waste No More. It is a volunteer-driven organisation where we do not take any monetary donation. I have dedicated myself wholly to the benefit of society and have not taken any salary for the last 1.5 years.
I moved to Indonesia because of my husband’s relocation for work purposes. In India, I was working with non-profit organisations in the education domain. In Indonesia, I encountered a troubling reality – with extreme poverty and no food to feed their children, education was a luxury these families just could not afford. Hunger was a much more pressing problem in these communities.
That’s why I changed my focus from education to hunger and started Waste No More. It was never a for profit organisation but a volunteer driven movement. Our expectations from our volunteers were just to do food collection and distribution, and our donor partners to donate surplus food.
We have never raised any money or asked for monetary donations. Due to this I haven’t taken any salary for the last 1.5 years and solely focused on growing waste no more through volunteers.
FOR NUS MBA SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS ONLY (250 words): 1.Please indicate the type of Scholarship you are applying for, and describe your fit for this scholarship.
I want to apply for scholarships promoting women in business and social entrepreneurs, positively impacting society. I believe my six-year experience in the social sector, and as the founder of a social initiative in Indonesia, makes me a strong fit for such scholarships.
When I started my career in the social sector with Avanti and Atma, I used my software engineering experience to launch a Remote Accelerator Program for Atma that increased our reach by 40%. As part of this, I worked with 40 women-empowerment NGO heads to build their leadership skills and create plans to overcome their most pressing challenges. These experiences taught me how to work with limited budget and still inspire people from diverse backgrounds to contribute for social good and.
After I moved to Indonesia due to family reasons, I decided to start my own initiative – Waste No More. Stepping into founder shoes has allowed me to grow a resilient leader where I have managed to establish partnerships with more than 10 large scale donors and inspire XXX volunteers to distribute approximately 1500 meals every week in Jakarta.
Despite not taking any salary at all for the last 1.5 years, my work in the impact sector gives me a great sense of satisfaction and Post-MBA, I would love to continue working in the impact sector. However, I am cognizant of the high MBA tuition fees and thus, a scholarship can go a long way in keeping the burden of an MBA loan low, allowing me to continue working for the community’s welfare.
FOR NUS SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS ONLY (250 words): 2.Briefly share how you plan to “pay it forward” as a student and alum of the programme if you were awarded.
If I am awarded a scholarship, I would plan to “pay it forward” in primarily three ways.
First, I aim to continue working in the development sector. My short term goal is to join an impact organization like Gates Foundation and work preferably in the agricultural-development sector. Additionally, I would volunteer with organizations focusing on girl education and women empowerment providing them pro-bono consulting to address their most pressing growth challenges leveraging my experience from Atma consulting.
Next, I would aim to bring in more opportunities, through partnerships, for the NUS students and alumni to get involved in the impact sector for their close-to-heart causes in the form of internships, projects, volunteering or even periodic financial contribution. I would also guide individuals, as and if needed, to create new engagements while being part of the Sustainability, Ethics and Impact club.
Finally, in the long run, I would like to pay my gratitude forward by contributing to the scholarship funds at NUS so that future generations of students can continue to benefit from such scholarships the same way I would.
NUS MBA Winning Sample Essays – 2
NUS Essay 1: The NUS MBA offers a highly transformative educational experience. What kind of transformation are you working towards in your professional and personal self? (250 words)
Working as an engineer for the past six years, I started off as an individual contributor and now I am managing projects. I have developed good communication skills and am able to work well in a team. I am able to lead a team of five to design, commission and deliver industrial plants to clients. However, I am working towards one day taking over the business, so I have to transform from an engineer to a businessman, requiring a new set of skills.
In the short term, I intend to first become Engineering Manager to fully understand the company’s revenue streams. I would like to take on more responsibilities as head of the department, developing my skills at managing bigger projects across a bigger region, leading large teams and handling greater budgets. Three years on, I plan to move into a business development role to immerse myself in the industry and build relationships with the clients. By slowly working my way up the company, I am able to display my capabilities while ensuring I will be in good stead to take over the business.
Personally, I would like to grow as a business leader, being able to lead and motivate much bigger teams as compared to my teams now. I am an introvert now and I hope to improve my public speaking, communication and presentation skills. I also strive to build my network of successful people, picking up knowledge and habits that would advance my professional and personal life.
NUS Essay 2: Tell us about your intermediate (3 years) post-MBA career goal, describing your industry, function, and country of choice and a plan on how you would achieve this goal. (250 words)
In the past six years, I have gained experience in the edible oil industry. I had the freedom and opportunity to work in China, Indonesia and Thailand. Now that my father is growing older each day, I feel that I should join my father to help grow the family business and prepare myself to lead it someday. Kelington Group Berhad (KGB), a listed company on the Malaysia Stock Exchange, provides engineering services to a variety of industries.
I have managed engineering projects in the past six years, similar to what KGB does, in countries where KGB does business. Handling clients, managing project budgets and meeting project deadlines have become second nature to me.
While I excel at managing projects, I realise I lack the knowledge of running a successful business. Leading a project involves managing much fewer people compared to business. The different aspects of a business from finance to human resource management are foreign to me. Realising my shortfall, I would like to pursue an MBA to bridge my gap in skills to be better prepared to go back and help my family business.
With its strong Asian focus, NUS is a perfect fit for me to gain applicable business knowledge as KGB’s core business is within the region. After Speaking to Ji Hui, a current NUS MBA student, I realized that the diversity of the batch and the experiential learning modules allow me to build my network and develop my skills to lead KGB’s business.
NUS Essay 3: Describe the type of leader you are right now, and the qualities of a leader you aspire to be. How would The NUS MBA help you cultivate those qualities? (250 words)
Being an introvert by nature, I like to macro manage my team members and allow them the freedom to define their own approach to their work. As commissioning leader, I assign tasks to my team members and many plant operators. While we have successfully delivered working plants to clients within schedule, I have realised that I may need to improve my skills to lead much larger teams now and I believe that I have the potential to develop those skills.
My father, having held senior managerial positions throughout his career as Ex-CEO of Air Liquide Malaysia and CEO of KGB, is the type of leader I aspire to be. Unlike myself, he is an extrovert and a tough leader. He commands respect from his employees, some of which have followed him to his new company when asked. Being able to communicate effectively, he was able to inspire his staff with a clear vision and produce results quickly.
Realising my skill gaps is the first step to improving myself and that is why I would like to ask for the opportunity to achieve my goals through the NUS MBA. After consulting Douglas Tan, a current MBA candidate, I am confident that the NUS MBA can help me in becoming a better leader. The Launch Your Transformation bootcamp and MBA Survival Kit module will really help me realise my own capabilities and areas to work on.
NUS Essay 4: Share a situation in your personal or professional life, where your value system was put to the test. How did you react, and what did you learn from it? (250 words)
Personal recognition is something I value immensely. As a young boy of 19, I was already striving for excellence and converted an offer from Imperial College London. While my family could have sponsored my degree, I was determined to create my own identity, set of values and financial freedom, and I won a full tuition and board scholarship from the Public Service Department of Malaysia.
Upon graduation however, my values were again challenged. I could have easily joined Air Liquide because my father was the Managing Director of Air liquid at that time and could have referred me to a good role but I wanted to look for one myself and earn one based on my capabilities. Ultimately, my values prevailed. I did not want to be classified as having succeeded with the help of my father so I decided to create my own identity elsewhere.
Through this decision, I learned that the path to creating my own identity was not easy. It took me nearly six months, writing to more than 50 companies in Malaysia and Singapore, before finally accepting the offer at my current company. Working outside, I learned how to climb the career ladder without any privilege or being treated as the boss’ son. I now judge people not based on their background but by merit. Along the way, I also came to appreciate the advice and knowledge that my father has imparted to me and now I want to join forces with him.