Think for yourself

Think for yourself – multiball!

I hope the following resources will be useful for anyone attempting to draft their essays for INSEAD, MIT Sloan and Wharton.


Admissionado – Insider’s Guide (Article)

Admissionado – Insider’s Guide (YouTube video)

INSEAD Entrepreneurship Forum (Presentations from May 2013 event)

MIT Sloan

Admissionado  – Essay Analysis

MIT Sloan Admissions YouTube Channel

MIT Sloan Admissions – Essay 1

MIT Sloan Admissions – Essay 2

MIT Sloan Admissions – Optional Essay


Admissionado – Essay Analysis


Admissionado YouTube Channel (Tips and Guides on various b schools)

Think for yourself

Think for yourself – INSEAD part 2

Some specific feedback from a senior (and very active fundraising) alumnus and a 2009 graduate (who has also interviewed a dozen or so candidates when invited to interview):

  • Given desire to switch career and geography, will get a lot more out of full time MBA (rather than Exec MBA)
  • INSEAD is a lot more broad-minded [than other European schools], rewards diversity (own mentality and nature of people worked with) and people who have worked up the ladder
  • Alumni are passionate about helping the school and people interested to come to INSEAD
  • INSEAD is an innovative and entrepreneurial place
    • stimulating environment with many start-ups
    • several older classmates (mid 30s) who went on to work for eBay
  • Good to show focus in your application (i.e. specific goals) but also be careful to show you are open-minded, i.e. expect you may change your mind once you get on campus
  • Be honest about any shortcomings – tell how you have since “pulled your socks up”
  • Most important questions for an older applicant:
    • Why now? Why not earlier?
    • Why not the Exec MBA programme?
    • How will you interact with others [given family commitments]? Will you be able to integrate into the social culture of INSEAD?
  • Will typically rank c. 60% of candidates as ‘recommend admit’ (rest split 50/50 between ‘possible admit’ and ‘no admit’)
Think for yourself

Think for yourself – MIT Sloan part 2

Specific feedback from Admissions Office and a recent MIT Sloan on the Road event I attended:

  • Looking for students who “identify and solve the world’s problems”
  • If you are interested in entrepreneurship, want to spend a lot of time in the Martin Trust Center
  • What we want to see in your application in one word: IMPACT (e.g. how you made it, where you made it, when you made it)
  • New second essay is nothing to worry about (usually change something each year) – aligned with professional world i.e. 360º feedback
  • Last season approx. one-third to one-half of applicants answered (optional) third essay
  • Interview process will be the same as in 2013/14
  • Surprisingly, not that many applicants from the UK [following my prompt about being in a large competition pool]
  • Keep in touch with us before and after you submit your application → very big on this!
  • Specific advice for re-applicants:
    • be upfront about it, tell us how you have grown/changed since last time
    • pay close attention to ‘What We Look For
    • be sure to give specific and detailed examples
    • should be consistent with last time, but think around new answers and try to give a little more information
    • be sure to do the optional (third) essay – can write an essay, post a video, make a slideshow
  • We encourage re-applicants (stressed by Admissions and at the event)
Think for yourself

Think for yourself – Stanford

  • Innovation and risk-taking
  • More similar to MIT Sloan [from my shortlist]
    • technical/scientific
    • more entrepreneurial
  • Collaborative instead of competitive
  • Focus on leadership and experiential learning
    • students like to share feedback
  • Small class and squad (5-6 people) size
  • Grade non-disclosure policy
  • Maybe more targeted at older candidates?
  • Class of 2015: 7,108 applicants, 406 matriculating = 5.7% success rate! More stats here.
Think for yourself

Think for yourself – Wharton

  • Academic strong points: finance faculty is world class, also strong in marketing; recently more focus on social impact
  • Much more technically oriented than its peers
    • technical expertise and analytical rigour
    • offers deep vertical learnings, e.g. could become a valuation expert in emerging markets [I mentioned emerging markets as an area of interest]
  • Work in groups “like there is no tomorrow”
    • fares high with employers who value teamwork
    • need to work well and thrive in this environment
  • Typical student is collaborative, curious and engaged
  • Catalyse → Create → Connect
  • More commercial with its admissions criteria – want to look at professional history/growth
  • Want students able to bring unique personal qualities and past successes to the programme
  • Potential for growth an important factor
  • Student run school – everyone is asked to contribute
Think for yourself

Think for yourself – MIT Sloan

  • Want brightest, most innovative students
  • HBS is general management, Sloan is the same but with a heavy quant element
  • All professors are accessible – will teach class, have office hours and eat with you!
  • Approx. 50% of class graduate under a ‘track’, the rest through the general programme
  • 40% international
  • Offers a financial engineering course – very mathematical
  • Good way to transition from banking into e.g. PE or VC
  • MIT values your decisions, willingness to take risk and take responsibility for this risk
    • could have developed a new way of doing things at your company
    • identify an area where you have made a difference
  • MIT has a strong Asian presence
  • Uses two professional readers to view applications, no alums or students
  • Does not disclose grades – gives you a good idea how much focus they give to scores
Think for yourself

Think for yourself – INSEAD

  • September (10 months) and January (10 months plus summer) intakes
  • Suggested to start in Singapore (2 of 5 semesters) and then move to Fontainebleau (3 of 5 semesters) to avoid European winter!
  • Short programme, but can use the time to broaden yourself out, learn more general management skills and reevaluate your options
  • International experience is key
  • Strong entrepreneurship focus – many courses on new business ventures, raising funds etc.
  • Most popular electives are entrepreneurship – 25% of electives in this field
  • Multi-geographical setup means it is not always easy to arrange meetings – staff travel to other campuses a lot
  • Alliances with (inter alia) Wharton and Kellogg
  • 10,500 executive participants pass through campus each year
  • Upon graduation, approx. 85% of student change career in some way (section, function and/or geography)