INSEAD Essay Samples

INSEAD’s MBA essays reflect a holistic approach. INSEAD is seeking applicants who are on a clear and upward professional trajectory and who have significant international experience, exposure, and aspirations. INSEAD prides itself on being a rigorous program but with the work hard & play hard mentality at its core. INSEAD essays are essential to showcasing fit.

SBC has three INSEAD experts including an INSEAD MBA graduate on our team. They deeply know the nuances of applying to INSEAD successfully. If you’d like to speak with one of our Principals about your candidacy, please request a free analysis here.

In the meantime, see examples of INSEAD MBA essays from our successful admits below.

Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved.

I moved to Chile in 2006 to support my husband in his advancing career and simultaneously started my own consulting business. This new business was a big change from managing a 100 million organization as in my previous experience; however, it allowed me to leverage my management experience; develop experience as an entrepreneur; and produce earnings of $95,000 USD. My two most important clients are Waldorf Company and Cheen Chile.

At Waldorf, I am creating the company’s first marketing plan, as well as working with the owner to develop a single company vision that will provide the management team a long-term unified goal. Although Waldorf is a multinational company with 90 million USD in sales, the company lacks a strategic view of the future and is very short-term oriented. I am assessing the company’s key issues to recommend action plans and then I will recruit and train five people to implement these plans.

With Cheen, I work directly with the top management team to identify growth opportunities in the region that will help the company double its revenues of $40 million in five years. Over 90% of Cheen’s production is sold inside Chile, thus, to evaluate all growth options, I am learning about the different Latin American markets and Cheen’s competitors’, and will combine these to define an strategy for each country that includes both organic options such as launching an existing product of Cheen’s portfolio and inorganic options like acquiring a competitor.

Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position?

I have had a 10-year marketing career full of diverse experiences – from large multinational companies, to an international family-owned company, to my latest experience as an entrepreneur.

I started my career at Acme Corporation as Assistant Brand Manager (ABM). I developed a solid foundation in marketing – my data-driven decision style, structured way of working, and leadership skills are all reflections of Acme’s culture. I also started my international career when I was promoted to ABM senior in Canada to manage Widgets brand for the North American region, from Canada to Mexico.

I joined Computer Tech when my former Acme boss asked me to help restructure the Computer Tech Canada’s marketing function. I started as Audience Manager for enterprise accounts, tasked with generating demand in the top 400 enterprises in Canada – a group accountable for 50% of the company’s $300 Million revenues. Later, I was promoted to Marketing & Communications Lead, where I led a group of eight people in charge of generating demand.

My next position at House Goods further strengthened my leadership, analytical thinking, and people development skills. At House Goods, I was accountable for a 75 million USD business, and a group of seven people. My new responsibilities required me to develop new skills, such as negotiation, where I learned how to build win-win relationships when setting the monthly goals, business priorities, and marketing spending with third-party brand owners.

My family and I decided to move to Chile to pursue other goals. In Chile I started my own business. Because the positive worth-of-mouth that the first project generated, now I have two projects in progress and other three in pipeline. The next step will be to recruit professionals to attend all the leads generated and increase the revenue of the start-up.

Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position?

While at university I studied economics and political science. As part of a junior year fellowship I worked with a microfinance NGO in Thailand, which set me on my career path. After graduating I decided to gain experience in finance by taking a job as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. The experience taught me how to evaluate investments and to perform thorough due diligence. While I enjoyed the challenge presented in my career at Goldman, I felt compelled to help others in the world more directly. After two years I decided to start looking for a position within the non-profit sector. Because of my finance background I decided to start within a finance role, planning to transition to an operational role at some point in the future.

I researched the organizations that managed operations across the world from a NYC headquarters, and ultimately took a job as a manager of finance at ILO, an organization that provides fundraising services for NGOs internationally. I was soon promoted to senior finance manager, overseeing all of the forecasting for our partner organizations. If I were to remain with ILO my next step would be Director of finance, which would be a similar function with more management oversight.

Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary.

I define myself as a person with strong values, intelligence, passion and perseverance, who is committed to making a difference in her country and her region. These qualities were instilled in me at an early age by my family and my environment.

My father’s death when I was one year old changed my life significantly. To cover her grief, my mother put her focus on my education during my pre-school years. Through her commitment I entered school directly into the second grade and since then, I have succeeded in doing many things earlier in life. Although, at times I was put in situations I was not really prepared for, including entering university as a precocious age of 15 years old, on the whole, I have matured faster than people my age, built a strong character to overcome challenges, and become self-confident. These qualities have helped me achieve success both personally and professionally: I was a top performer in my marketing career in three international companies; I lived and thrived in three different foreign countries; and most recently, I started my own venture.

My mother also instilled in me a strong moral character. That strength, coupled with my problem solving skills, makes me a good leader; I have led teams successfully in diverse situations with different leadership styles, from an intellectual style based on data-driven decision-making and strong analytical thinking, to a more participative style, requesting ideas and fostering teamwork. I am aware of my weaknesses too: I am impatient, it is difficult for me to deal with ambiguity, and sometimes I react quickly and emotionally. To overcome these weaknesses, I keep a log of the situations that trigger them so I will be more careful in the future. I also seek out coaching from people who are strong in these areas, and read relevant self-help materials.

Starting my own venture helped me further develop perseverance and overcome my impatience. Launching my company was very difficult because I lacked a network in Chile, knowledge of the country, and experience starting a business. However, with perseverance and creativity I learned how to make an impact and provide a compelling offer to local companies, I also learned how to absorb negative answers and deal with adversity. After the success of my first project, people learned about my good service and my business is now well positioned.

Perhaps the most important aspects of my upbringing in Canada was seeing the difficulties poor people face first-hand. I am aware of the advantages I have received, and I am passionate and committed to improve the quality of life of all North Americans.

Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such.

There are many accomplishments I am proud of – finishing university at 19 years old, graduating Cum Laude from my Masters, being transferred to Acme Canada to play a key role in the integration of the North America organization, however, I consider the following my two most substantial accomplishments because both demonstrate my ability to deal with adversity by energizing myself and others to work to achieve an ambitious vision.

The most recent accomplishment took place last year when my family and I moved to Chile to further my husband’s career at Computer Tech. This was the right decision for our family; however, for me it required leaving a successful career with House Goods, and moving without any job opportunities. I thought that with my strong international marketing experience, I would easily find a job with a good multinational company; however, I did not. Economic and political instability affected the job market and companies were not hiring at that time. In order to overcome this situation, I had to rethink my career. After carefully evaluating my options, I decided to start my own consulting business. I started to develop my network of contacts – for two months I studied different Chilean markets, preparing a list of companies to visit, and for each company I prepared a specific sales argument for how I could help improve their business. It was a tough experience – I spoke with seven companies, and in the end I gained three customers, and improved my income generating a $95,000 annual income.

My second significant accomplishment occurred during my second year at House Goods, when the executive team recognized my work with the ‘House Goods Award,’ an award for the individual who made the greatest positive impact on the organization over the previous year. I am very proud, not only for the good business results, but more importantly, how I achieved them.

When I joined the company, my new team was in chaos – the team members lacked confidence, the brands were performing below plan, and strategic partners wanted to end their relationship with us. I reorganized the group to give my direct reports new challenges and a fresh start. I defined clear objectives for each person and each brand, transmitted energy and enthusiasm, supplied people with resources to accomplish their goals, gave support when needed, and provided ongoing feedback. We improved the profitability of the group by 12% compared with previous year, and rebuilt relationships with our partners, but the most important change was that a group of seven young professionals rebuilt its confidence and is still doing great six years later.

Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such.

As a member of the alumni committee for Mayan College in Los Angeles, I had a personal desire to leverage our 300 members to provide career guidance to new graduates. The other members of the committee had varying goals including building a fundraising base for the college, and just having fun with like-minded alumni. To generate support for my idea I identified several successful alums of Mayan and interviewed them about their career path. In many cases they had used their personal network to accomplish their career goals. I wanted to formalize that network by providing access to current students and recent graduates to those who had blazed a path in different fields in Los Angeles. I rallied a group to help me accomplish this goal, and we brainstormed ideas like social networking, happy hours, lecture series and job shadowing. The team voted and we decided to set up three focused lectures on the entertainment industry, the real estate industry and technology as the three most sought after industries among recent grads. Our lectures were followed by a cocktail hour, and we encouraged the older alumni to reach out to younger members of the club. We were thrilled when we received an email from Jon, a Mayan ’09, who received a job through meeting a helpful alum at our latest lecture series.

Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career?

My long-term goal is to leverage my international experience, marketing skills and project execution ability to start a consulting firm focused on helping governments realize initiatives for economic and cultural change. I envision my firm to be a key player in bringing challenging social projects to fruition by providing multifunctional project management services, while managing communication to relevant government and non-government stakeholders, including the population at-large.

I have seen the difficulties poor people face first-hand, and know that Latin American governments lack capacity to solve these issues. With my leadership abilities, drive to succeed and ability to deliver a vision, I believe I can change things for the better. I represent a small percentage of the population who had the amazing opportunity to study at university, and believe that, if those of us who had this chance do not do something for our country, nobody will.

To achieve my long-term goal I need to complement my existing skills with a more global perspective, greater breadth of business experience, built a strong network of global business contacts, and improve my entrepreneurial fundamentals. An INSEAD MBA and subsequent business development work experience in Europe are fundamental steps towards reaching my goals.

An MBA from INSEAD is critical for me to transition to my near-term goal, and provide the foundations for my long-term goal of pan-American business leadership. INSEAD’s strong focus on entrepreneurship will help me develop the mindset of an entrepreneur – able to deal with ambiguity, comfortably handle risk and uncertainty, and discover opportunities for innovation. INSEAD’s career services, with counselors experienced in a breadth of sectors, will help me validate the career path I have designed and consider it with a fresh perspective. The one year concentrated study is also a terrific opportunity to gain knowledge, and quickly come back to work and put my experience into practice. Additionally, I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to live and study in France, not only for the cultural and business opportunities, but living in France, will bring my Spanish husband and I closer to his home country, and provide our 2-year-old son with a better education than that currently available in Latin America.

Finally, INSEAD’s location and contacts with European companies will help me transition to a business development career in Europe. I look to complement my MBA experience with real life projects and gain experience in regions outside America; I can do this by working in business development with a focus on brand building and inorganic growth for a company in Europe expanding in emerging markets.

In the long term, INSEAD’s global reach and global perspective will prepare me to work in a diverse workplace and will help me form a talented group of collaborators for my pan-regional development objective. It will also help me develop a strong network of contacts who will eventually be decision-makers in international corporations and governments who can help me make a difference in Latin America.

Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career?

My work with Flyline Ventures ended on January 15, 2011 when we were turned down for Series A funding, and the start up funding ran out. The team was disappointed that our networking site for Tweens would need to be downsized, yet the founders remained on the project in hopes that they could find financial backing to hire the product development team back.

Since I left Flyline I have been researching my long-term career aspirations. To learn more about the retail industry I have met with professionals working in women’s apparel and shoes. In the process of getting to know the industry I have shadowed a designer at a small clothing line, met with merchandising professionals, networked with retail shop owners, and spoken with web retailers I know through my prior job. This process has helped me understand the retail business model from creation to monetization, and clarified the courses I plan to attend at INSEAD.

Aside from my professional research I have been ramping up my volunteer work at the Toronto Women’s Shelter. With flexibility in my schedule I have been able to design several educational workshops for the homeless women that are the clients of the shelter – from personal finance to art.

I am continuing to search for product development work as I apply to business school. If I do start full time work before business school I plan to continue my research and preparation to use my INSEAD experience to the full extent possible.

Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect.

It was my first opportunity to run a project as a manager in the business development group at HIP magazine. I was thrilled about the opportunity to launch a microsite for our new sub brand and immediately wrote up the outcome I was seeking and some steps I felt the team needed to take in order to accomplish a successful launch. Though I had little technical experience, I was confident I knew exactly how we could accomplish our goals.

At the first meeting of the ME microsite team I laid out my goals for the team and started assigning people to next steps. While the atmosphere in the room was subdued, I felt good about the proactive direction I was leading the team. In our next meeting I asked for updates and noticed that every member of the team was presenting what I perceived as excuses for their lack of progress. I was upset about the lack of progress, and asked the team why the project was slipping behind schedule. Everyone had a different issue and the meeting ended without resolution.

I was frustrated and upset that my first project management job seemed to be failing already. I met with my boss during our weekly meeting and told him about the issues. His response was to suggest that my job was not to lay out every next step for the technical team, especially with my lack of technical knowledge, but rather to communicate my vision. I realized I had been too focused on the details of execution, and had failed to rally the team behind a bigger picture goal.

At our next meeting I left my spreadsheet of next steps in my office and spent the time communicating three key messages: 1. The microsite needed to engage the consumer and increase time spent for the website, 2. I wanted the microsite to reflect the most user-friendly design possible and 3. The microsite needed to comply with our HIP brand guidelines. I then told the team that I trusted their expertise in the execution and I was available to help them with resources and ideas if needed.

My new approach paid off and our HIP microsite launched at our deadline and under budget. Most importantly, the site accomplished all of my goals and was a key traffic driver for the overall site for the year.

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