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Columbia CBS MBA Essay Samples
Columbia’s MBA essays reflect a holistic approach. The fit is VERY important. CBS wants to know why CBS and be assured you will fit in, as;that is a big part of their culture. The CBS essays are essential to showcasing fit, community involvement, viable career goals and leadership, proven or potential.
SBC has four former CBS Admissions Officers and multiple CBS MBA graduates who deeply know the nuances of applying to CBS successfully. If you’d like to speak with one of our Principals about your candidacy, please request a free analysis here.
Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.
Admissions Officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Asst Director MBA Admissions
at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Director MBA Admissions
at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
Admissions Officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Minority Admissions, the GSB
Diversity Programs, the GSB
Assistant Director MBA Admissions
at Columbia Business School (CBS)
M.S.Ed, Higher Education, U of Pennsylvania
Ashley is a former MBA Admissions Board Member for Harvard Business School (HBS), where she interviewed and evaluated thousands of business school applicants for over a six year tenure. Ashley holds an MBA from HBS. During her HBS years, Ashley was the Sports Editor for the Harbus and a member of the B-School Blades Ice Hockey Team. After HBS, she worked in Marketing at the Gillette Company on Male and Female shaving ...×
Kerry is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). During her 5+ year tenure at HBS, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a wide range of backgrounds across the globe. She also led marketing and outreach efforts focused on increasing diversity and inclusion, ran the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), and launched the 2+2 Program during her time in Admissions. Kerry holds a B.A. from Bates College and ...×
A former associate director of admissions at Harvard Business School, Pauline served on the HBS MBA Admissions Board full-time for four years. She evaluated and interviewed HBS applicants, both on-campus and globally. Pauline's career has included sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM. For over 10 years, Pauline has expertly guided MBA applicants, and her clients h ...×
Geri is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). In her 7 year tenure in HBS Admissions, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a diverse set of academic, geographic, and employment backgrounds. Geri also traveled globally representing the school at outreach events in order to raise awareness for women and international students. In additio ...×
Laura comes from the MBA Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS) and is an HBS MBA alumnus. In her HBS Admissions role, she evaluated and interviewed hundreds of business school candidates, including internationals, women, military and other applicant pools, for five years. Prior to her time as a student at HBS, Laura began her career in advertising and marketing in Chicago at Leo Burnett where she worked on th ...×
Andrea served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years. In this role, she provided strategic direction for student yield-management activities and also served as a full member of the admissions committee. In 2007, Andrea launched the new 2+2 Program at Harvard Business School – a program targeted at college junior applicants to Harvard Business School. Andrea has also served as a Career Coach for Harvard Business School for both cu ...×
Jennifer served as Admissions Officer at the Stanford (GSB) for five years. She holds an MBA from Stanford (GSB) and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jennifer has over 15 years experience in guiding applicants through the increasingly competitive admissions process into top MBA programs. Having read thousands and thousands of essays and applications while at Stanford (GSB) Admiss ...×
Erin served in key roles in MBA Admissions--as Director at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Assistant Director at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB). Erin served on the admissions committee at each school and has read thousands of applications in her career. At Haas, she served for seven years in roles that encompassed evaluation, outreach, and diversity and inclusion. During her tenure in Admissions at GSB, she was responsible for candidate evaluation, applicant outreach, ...×
Susie comes from the Admissions Office of the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she reviewed and evaluated hundreds of prospective students’ applications. She holds an MBA from Stanford’s GSB and a BA from Stanford in Economics. Prior to advising MBA applicants, Susie held a variety of roles over a 15-year period in capital markets, finance, and real estate, including as partner in one of the nation’s most innovative finance and real estate investment organizations. In that r ...×
Dione holds an MBA degree from Stanford Business School (GSB) and a BA degree from Stanford University, where she double majored in Economics and Communication with concentrations in journalism and sociology. Dione has served as an Admissions reader and member of the Minority Admissions Advisory Committee at Stanford. Dione is an accomplished and respected advocate and thought leader on education and diversity. She is ...×
Anthony served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise. During his time as a Wharton Admissions Officer, he read and reviewed thousands of applications and helped bring in a class of 800+ students a year. Anthony has traveled both domestically and internationally to recruit a ...×
Meghan served as the Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute, a joint degree program combining the Wharton MBA with an MA in International Studies. In her role on the Wharton MBA admissions committee, Meghan advised domestic and international applicants; conducted interviews and information sessions domestically and overseas in Asia, Central and South America, and Europe; and evaluated applicants for admission to the program. Meghan also managed ...×
Amy comes from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she was Associate Director. Amy devoted 12 years at the Wharton School, working closely with MBA students and supporting the admissions team. During her tenure at Wharton, Amy served as a trusted adviser to prospective applicants as well as admitted and matriculated students. She conducted admissions chats with applicants early in the admissions ...×
Ally brings six years of admissions experience to the SBC team, most recently as an Assistant Director of Admission for the full-time MBA program at Columbia Business School (CBS). During her time at Columbia, Ally was responsible for reviewing applications, planning recruitment events, and interviewing candidates for both the full-time MBA program and the Executive MBA program. She traveled both internationally and dome ...×
Erin has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU's Stern School of Business. At Columbia Business School, Erin was an Assistant Director of Admissions where she evaluated applications for both the full time and executive MBA programs, sat on the admissions and merit scholarship committees and advised applicants on which program might be the best fit for them based on their work experience and pro ...×
Emma comes from the MBA Admissions Office at Columbia Business School (CBS), where she was Associate Director. Emma conducted dozens of interviews each cycle for the MBA and EMBA programs, as well as coordinating the alumni ambassador interview program. She read and evaluated hundreds of applications each cycle, delivered information sessions to audiences across the globe, and advised countless waitlisted applicants. ×
A leader I admire is Barack Obama. Even though I often didn’t agree with his politics, I was always impressed with President Obama’s ability to provide stability, unwavering self-confidence, and decisiveness while also building consensus. These are leadership qualities I strive to emulate in my own career.
The hallmark of Obama’s leadership style was his cool, calm, and collected disposition. This temperament empowered Obama to repair the United States’ relationships with foreign powers, such as Germany and South Korea, who did not particularly care for the style of diplomacy displayed by the Bush administration. Foreign diplomats had grown tired of America’s rogue leadership, and Obama’s approach allowed the United States to rebuild diplomatic equity.
Obama’s self-confidence almost never showed signs of wavering. He gave off the impression of control, that the United States was always operating from a position of strength and reason. This was exactly what the United States needed when Obama took office, as the country was reeling from the Great Recession of 2008 and Obama’s levelheadedness provided a stabilizing force.
I particularly admire Obama’s consensus-building skills: he a found ways to harness diverse voices while simultaneously providing decisive leadership. Obama listened to every side of an issue; however, he was the ultimate decision-maker. The Osama bin Laden raid is a great example: Obama built support from his military advisers in the weeks leading up to the raid, while providing clear direction for a brave and successful action, which had so much meaning for the American people.
I have fond memories of late nights and delicious meals at Union Square Café, one of the flagship restaurants of New York restaurant legend Danny Meyer. However, to me — a confident yet disillusioned chef — Danny Meyer was a peer and a rival. Gradually, my natural rivalry grew into admiration as I began to comprehend Danny’s contributions to the hospitality industry. What had started as a Romanesque café had grown into a global hospitality group (USHG) founded on a simple principle, “Enlightened Hospitality”. This ethos changed the entire restaurant world, inspiring us to treat customers as guests and to hire based on personality, not experience.
Over the years, Danny Meyer has always trusted his instincts. He believed in Madison Square Park when he invested in Shake Shack, he believed in better wages when he introduced no-tipping to all of his restaurants, and now, as age makes operations less appealing, Danny has leveraged his reputation and expertise to create Enlightened—a hospitality private equity fund. At Enlightened, Danny invests outside the restaurant industry and demonstrates that hospitality is fundamental to every business.
As I prepare for CBS and Danny and I both divest from operations, I can’t help but compare myself to him again. When I was considering leaving Restaurant Name, I spoke with Danny about my future: he encouraged me to think critically and to follow my instincts. As I begin the next chapter, I intend to follow Danny’s lead and continue to broaden the definition of hospitality.
Growing up, I loved every opportunity to visit New York City whether it was to play in Carl Schurz Park or discover something new in the Museum of Natural History. From the glossy skyscrapers in Midtown to the cast-iron buildings in SoHo, I have long been enamored with the city. Thus, my goal immediately after graduation is to join a top-tier real estate investment firm such as Blackstone or Brookfield. Bringing transferable finance skills as I pivot from banking to investing, Columbia is vital to filling my knowledge gaps and expanding my professional network.
From current students Ssss and Pppp, I learned that Columbia’s real estate program produces industry leaders by integrating rigorous coursework with real life experience. I will take full advantage of courses such as Real Estate Entrepreneurship, Social Impact Real Estate Investing and Development, and Real Estate Transactions to equip me with the academic background necessary to succeed in real estate investing. I am excited to learn from renowned professors such as Ccccc and Llllll.
My long-term dream job is to launch my own real estate investment fund that will shape the New York skyline with buildings that have a positive, lasting impact on the greater community. After working on the construction financing for One Vanderbilt, a rising office tower that will include LEED certifications, green community space, and railroad improvements to Grand Central, I began reading and researching sustainability and advancements in relevant technology. I’ve discovered that New York real estate is severely under served by modern technologies in infrastructure and renewable energy, which has fueled growing social and environmental concerns. No one person or group has all the expertise to solve this complex problem, so successfully improving city living in the future will require collaboration. At Columbia I envision facilitating discussions between the Real Estate Association, Technology Business Group, and Green Business Club to learn from one another and find points of overlap allowing for advanced “green real estate development.”
I will network with Columbia peers and industry professionals within the banking, private equity, technology, energy, and entrepreneurship fields in the classroom and be deeply involved with the Real Estate Association. In addition, I will organize a team to participate in case competitions such as the UNC Real Estate Development Challenge, where I can test my impact initiative in a real-world scenario. Through the Leadership Lab I will build self-awareness and refine my skills to successfully communicate my vision to investors in the future.
Columbia is my first choice program, and the best place to arm me with the academic skillset, network, and leadership tools to join a real estate investment firm and later launch my own real estate investment fund. Combining the goals of profit with enhanced quality of life, I am eager to become a leader within the real estate industry and create a lasting impact on the greater New York community.
I recently visited the XXX Museum in Morocco. I’ve always had an interest in the fashion industry, but my interest fell by the wayside when I started my career in consulting. I wasn’t confident that I had the right skills to elevate my interest to anything more than a hobby. Three years later, learning about Laurent’s accomplishments reignited a fire in me. While consulting has armed me with a foundational set of skills, an education at Columbia will help me transition into spending 3-5 years in growth strategy at an established luxury fashion company before ultimately launching my own brand.
Working in consulting accelerated my understanding of critical business functions and pushed me to become a better thinker, leader, and doer. Serving retail clients in a customer experience strategy light unveiled my interest in understanding the consumer’s shopping mindset. However, the volatile nature of consulting prevents me from diving deep into the role that I desire; now is the perfect time for me to hone my consulting capabilities in the world of fashion entrepreneurship. Columbia’s Retail & Luxury Goods and Entrepreneurship Programs present the perfect learning environments to combine my consulting skills with my passion for fashion.
Following graduation, I will spend 3-5 years working in growth strategy for an established brand such as ZZZ or ABC. These companies have built brands that consistently evoke visceral emotions within their audiences, a feeling that I seek to translate into my own. Applying the skills I gained at CBS with consulting, I will conduct research on customer and industry trends to provide strategic recommendations that will grow that brand, all while I strengthen my network in the fashion industry. Pairing relevant industry experience with my time at CBS will give me the complete set of skills needed to achieve my dream of starting my own clothing company.
My dream is to lead my company (dont kill the mood or dktm) as its CEO. dktm was initially conceived when I was on a date with someone who spent the afternoon on her phone. Hurt feelings aside, the experience exposed me to a dangerous societal problem: we are entering a digital age that requires less human interaction, culminating in a steady deterioration of our ability to form meaningful connections with one another. dktm’s visual aesthetic will provoke people to think about that missing emotional connection and inspire them to re-establish it. As CEO, I will define dktm’s long-term vision, build an actionable business strategy, and advise on the direction of the brand’s identity.
Having spoken with multiple students, I’m confident Columbia is my ideal choice. ABC (‘19) told me of the friendships she established with classmates and mentors, including ABC VP of Fashion. YYY (‘19) informed me of the various courses I could take to develop my fashion entrepreneurship skills, such as Lean Launchpad. Through CBS, I will create lifelong friendships, learn from seasoned veterans, and kickstart my vision of ensuring that people dont kill the mood.
In Berkshire Hathaway’s 2017 shareholder meeting Charlie Munger somewhat wryly remarked “It would certainly be unpleasant if we were in the department store business… Just think of what we avoided Warren.” While Munger and Buffet may be glad they’ve avoided the department store business I couldn’t be more excited about it. The changes, challenges, and competition that have scared off investors and forced numerous retailers into bankruptcy have made this one of the hardest but also the most interesting times to be in the industry. That is why I plan to continue working in corporate strategy in the retail industry for the next 3-5 years. The pace of change and ongoing challenges are just too exciting to pass up.
I’d ideally like to use XXXXX’s strength in the high-end retail space to move to the corporate strategy team for a global luxury goods conglomerate like LVMH, Kering, or Richemont. Longer term my dream job would be to manage a fashion focused investment fund – such as the venture arm LVMH launched this year – because while I’m not sure if we’ll still be using iPhones or driving our own cars in 10, 20, or 100 years—I’m willing to bet that we will still be buying and wearing clothes!
My enthusiasm for retail stems from my work over the last year – in which I’ve been able to collaborate with our Chief Digital Officer on a project to define and build-out XXXXX’s new 1234 Strategy. Our CDO called this project “the most exciting, but also the most complex idea” that he has worked on during his time at the company. I was involved in significant pieces of work including in-depth analysis of our top market which led to the development of a pilot program, new service experiences, and the expansion of our XXXXX stores all in the XYZ area. Additionally, I took the lead on a specific ask from our CDO to develop a comprehensive view on how we should segment the different kinds of markets we have stores in.
I presented my work to our executive team and helped craft the story and strategy that later went to the Board. My work helped to shift our internal strategy from “why would you ever invest another dollar in stores?” to “our greatest opportunity to win in a digital/online world is by leveraging our existing assets and disproportionately investing in our top markets and best customers!” In our most recent semi-annual senior leadership meeting our CDO declared that XXXXX’s focus in 2018 would be the 1234 Strategy that I helped to develop.
Working on such high-impact and transformational projects has been very exciting and it’s absolutely cemented my desire to continue working in the retail industry after business school, by either jumping to high end retail or returning to XXXXX. I’ve developed strong perspectives on what traditional retailers need to do to remain relevant and competitive in the digital/online age and I’m confident that the program will provide me with the perfect education and experience to move to a global luxury goods conglomerate and continue my growth in the retail field.
In the next five years my goal is to implement people-first policies to expand both the balance sheet and the culture of a financial services company. My goal is to develop an organization into a Forbes Top 100 Companies to Work For; making the culture a more diverse and inclusive space for professionals. Human Capital is becoming agile and innovative; executives are striving to change their interactions with employees and adapt to new trends to retain top talent. Through the J-Term Program, I will become a more strategic, operations focused Human Capital professional with the ability to build the best people-structures from my knowledge of business and lead companies through crucial Human Capital change.
Post-graduation I will strategically align business and talent needs with skills and insight gained through my coursework during J-Term. An MBA will prepare me to address the ongoing challenges of worker expectations and provide me with the strategic skill set to develop innovative solutions for clients. HR is increasingly tied to business outcomes; quantifying the financial impact of programs to retain top talent and making the business case for investing in Human Capital capabilities. In the future of work, the human resource will increasingly become the ultimate resource, and my MBA skill set will make me a leader adaptable to this change.
J-Term at CBS is the perfect place for me to hone my business skills while staying connected to my network in the Human Capital industry. The program will provide me with the ideal combination of entrepreneurial classmates, exposure to an international cohort, and a fast-paced MBA experience so I can return to my career ready to make a positive impact. I will take advantage of CBS’ unmatched opportunities through participation in master classes to bridge the gap between theory and practice, choosing a project based elective in HR. I will contribute to my diverse learning team, sharing my knowledge of C-Suite priorities through my exposure in industry. Through CBS Matters, I will share thought leadership in Human Capital and help Columbia diversify its cutting edge expertise by building up its Human Capital terrain. After speaking with current J-Term students and alums, including Student 1, Student 2, and Student 3, I am confident that my classmates will have similar ambitions, providing me the opportunity to build new perspectives and relationships. My dream job is to found my own Human Capital consulting firm, changing the way the global economy values its most important resource: people. The J-Term experience will allow me reach this goal by providing invaluable networking opportunities and a core foundation to build this business. Lastly, J-Term will allow me to continue building my career in New York. Columbia’s Manhattan setting at the center of the financial services world will not only allow me to keep in touch with the C-Suite executives I worked with at Consulting Firm– most notably, the relationships I built at ABC Company– but also provide me access to new, local alumni contacts, where I can form relationships and intern during the school year.
Columbia’s MBA program is the inflection point that will enable me to make a career shift into the restaurant industry. Upon graduation, I will develop and lead a strategy team for a restaurant group such as NoHo Hospitality or Myriad. Though this role does not exist in most hospitality organizations, I aspire to forge a path in this business for analytics-based strategy to be integrated into market expansion. A large challenge that restaurant groups face is that decisions are made by investors rather than driven by individuals with expertise in using research to manage growth. Through years of ongoing conversations with contacts in the business and avidly following trend studies, I see an opportunity for strategy to play a critical role in restaurant groups’ development. This function is especially pertinent considering that this industry is experiencing soaring rates of failure: the number of New York City restaurant closings in 2014 nearly doubled from the previous year (Zagat 2014). Maturing my skills in a strategy role will empower me to eventually become the chief executive officer of an existing restaurant group such as Union Square Hospitality or STARR Restaurants.
This trajectory perfectly marries my strategy background from JPMorgan with my longstanding passion for cuisines and dining. Now is a pivotal time to enter the business as there is a vast influx of private equity investment; Alliance Consumer Growth’s recent funding of Tender Greens is a notable example. I have attended several on-campus events and spoken with numerous students and alums, but my friend Diego Suarez’s reflection particularly stood out: he said that while his Columbia MBA granted him tremendous credibility when pursuing his career change, more importantly it provided the knowledge base required to switch industries. Diego’s comment further fuels my conviction that Columbia’s elective-heavy curriculum will afford the formal training I need to seize this time-sensitive opportunity. CBS’s specialized classes such as Consulting 101: Driving Strategic Impact and Napoleon’s Glance will allow me to adapt the project management skills that I cultivated in ABC investment bank’s Internal Consulting Analyst Program and apply them to hospitality groups. Moreover, CBS enables students to learn from renowned faculty: Dean Kathy Phillip’s leadership seminar offers unparalleled insight into management skills that will be paramount to leading a strategy team and eventually a restaurant group. Lastly, I can explore NYC’s thriving restaurant scene with my classmates and expand my hospitality network in New York though the Gourmet Club and Columbia Women in Business.
While Columbia’s exceptional curriculum and classes offer the education I require to transfer my strategy skills to the restaurant business, its unique programs outside of the classroom will further drive my professional growth. The Global Immersion Program will give me exposure to applying learned concepts to new industries, which is a skill that will be critical to my transition. I am tremendously excited to take advantage of the opportunities that this program, along with Columbia’s career-oriented curriculum structure and celebrated faculty, will provide to propel my success in restaurant strategy.
CBS offers a balanced curriculum, incredible alumni network, and a culture of integration and inclusion that will provide me both personal and professional growth. I look forward to the pre-term leadership program, where I will develop my skills in communication and collaboration and identify my leadership style. Later, in “Advanced Organizational Change,” I can learn from industry leaders and hone my leadership style further. CBS develops leaders by creating a culture of understanding and the CBS Matters program is an incredible way to learn about my classmates and improve my understanding of people and cultures. Additionally, I look forward to supplementing my leadership classes with several on-campus organizations, including the Management Consulting Association (MCA), the Small Business Consulting Club, and the Hospitality & Travel Association. Current student Template:Student A has shared how MCA greatly assisted in his recruitment process. I look forward to learning case interview best practices from my peers, as well as eventually sharing that expertise as a second-year student.
Professionally, I will build a solid foundation in Finance and Accounting while learning the nuances of consulting. I appreciate that CBS offers “Strategy Formulation” as a core class so that I can learn the basics of strategy consulting using the case method. Additionally, I will take Professor Zabar’s Immersion Seminar on Organic Grocery Entrepreneurship and leverage his network to land an inter-semester internship at a company like Beertopia or Happy Family Organics. Lastly, I would like to participate in a Global Consulting Project through the Chazen Institute.
For me, one of the most exciting characteristics that Columbia’s reputation and location fortify is that CBS attracts a plethora of speakers, students, and renowned professors which will enable me to connect with hospitality thought leaders. Columbia’s Executives in Residence program offers a unique opportunity to benefit from the guidance of industry magnates. By fostering relationships with these executives, I can gain experienced insights into my career path. Furthermore, CBS’s collaborative curriculum ensures that I will learn from my classmates’ talents and experiences. Firsthand industry knowledge amassed through personal connections is an incommensurable component of effectively transitioning into the restaurant business; the executive mentorship program and diversity of my classmates, along with the sheer size of Columbia’s network, present unmatched wisdom.
While CBS’s location shapes and strengthens its professional resources, it additionally grants invaluable access to New York City. NYC is not only the “very center of business,” it also is the “very center of cuisine”: the ultimate location for me to launch my hospitality career. The industry’s growth in New York, combined with restaurants’ accelerating failure rates, creates a unique landscape with immense room for expansion this is not being effectively pursued. With more than 18,696 restaurants, NYC is the prime location in which to manage restaurant group development (NYC & Company). Columbia Business School offers an unparalleled MBA program for me to pursue my passion for restaurant strategy because its location will afford me access to prominent leaders at the epicenter of the nation’s hospitality industry.
SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Wharton, Columbia CBS 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 Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.
Meet Erin, who has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU’s Stern School of Business.
Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.
We can improve your MBA profile and boost your candidacy.
Gain insight into the review process and eliminate weaknesses from your MBA application.
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