Write a Winning MBA Personal Statement

MBA personal statement

The majority of candidates who apply to the leading business schools are bright, personable overachievers. Honestly, they would be an asset to any program. That’s why when it comes to the MBA personal statement, you need to think beyond your obvious achievements.

Unleash your inner storyteller

Tell a compelling story if you hope to stand out amid the thousands of essays read by the admissions team each year. Make sure your personality comes through. The admissions team should get a real sense of who you are. They should also understand why you want to attend X program.

You can differentiate yourself by highlighting the most compelling, memorable stories and experiences. Fair warning: The admissions team is adept at sussing out applicants who have merely switched out the school name from another MBA personal statement. Don’t be that applicant!

Perhaps the worst thing you can do in a personal statement is a chronological recap of the resume. That, and submit an essay that lacks emotion, personality, or self-disclosure. You have to get personal (hence the name “personal statement”). Make sure the reader feels genuineness and authenticity.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.

MBA Personal Statement at HBS and Stanford

“The personal narrative really is a make or break for MBA admit success,” says a former Harvard Business School admissions officer on the SBC consulting team. “It is the essay execution that sets the overall application apart and earns it the interview.”

MBA personal statement

Again, the goal of the MBA personal statement is for the reader to understand who you are. “Be genuine,” advises the HBS admissions blog and continues: “Yes, we want you to put your best foot forward, but be careful not to be so ‘polished’ that we can’t get to know the real you.”

“The reader should feel so moved they want to meet you immediately – can’t wait to get to know you better, hear more of the story, ask you specific questions to learn more, be inspired, etc.,” shares one of the former HBS admissions officers on the SBC team.

Setbacks and lessons learned can be just as informative as success stories if they reveal more about what motivates and inspires you.

The same logic goes for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Understanding Stanford’s culture and academics will help you tailor your MBA personal statement. Before starting, talk to Stanford students and alumni. Get to know the school via virtual events or visit campus to see the Stanford community first-hand.

As far as what constitutes a winning MBA personal statement for Stanford, one of SBC’s former GSB admissions officers says, “GSB is looking for people who will make a big difference AND have a better shot than most in being able to execute. Stanford GSB students also seem to have this ‘X’ factor associated with them. Almost like an ‘unexpected’ trait, talent, or experience.”

The MBA personal statement for Stanford is about diving deep into what motivates you and why. Topics can range from personal history to big-picture visions of the future. Steer clear of explicitly career-related topics and note that the strongest essays are likely not career-oriented at all.

No one’s story is quite like yours.

When evaluating your candidacy, admissions teams will look for evidence in your MBA personal statement that shows you have a unique perspective that will add something new to the classroom.

Remember, you are not just your resume. You are the white spaces in between.  You are the transitions that got you from A to B, which will get you from B to B-school.  So celebrate who you are if you want an admissions director to do the same.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs. From our All-In Partnership to interview prep, essay editing, resume review, and much more, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.


Main image credit: Eric at Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Stanford GSB and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Erin, who was Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Director of MBA Admissions at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


(323) 934-3936

Latest Blog Post

GMAT vs GRE for MBA Applicants: What’s the Right Strategy?

Most of the top business schools in the United States accept the GMAT and GRE exams for MBA admission. But how do you decide which test you should take, the GMAT or GRE? Many ...