The first two ISB PGPMAX essays are the same as last year’s and take the more conventional approach that the ISB PGP essays too have been veering towards in recent years. The Significant Achievement and Goals essays give considerable scope for an impressive introduction. The third essay is a new addition that asks an extremely valid question and is an excellent replacement for the somewhat confusing third-person-perspective question last year. Credit where it is due – the PGPMAX team did a better work this year. And so should you! Do your very best!!
What has been your most significant achievement to date? Please explain why you consider it to be so? (500 words)
You have several accomplishments in your roster – personal, professional and academic. As the PGPMAX admissions committee says, “The PGPMAX office relies heavily on the application to short-list the applicants for the interviews. It is therefore important to highlight your STRENGTHS, achievements, future plans and goals through the essays..”.
The choice of achievement for writing this ISB PGPMAX essay should be based on the general importance of the achievement and the extent of your contribution to its success. But most importantly choose the story based on what it tells about YOU. Showcase qualities, perspectives, attitude and/or knowledge through the story that the ISB PGPMAX admissions committee will find attractive. Underscore characteristics, traits, viewpoints and/or skills that enable you to be an effective senior manager. Choose a story that dramatically highlights all the USPs that you want the PGPMAX ad-com to be aware of.
The dramatic quality of the story is essential to grab and maintain interest. So be interesting while totally credible.
As usual keep in mind that this essay is part of a bigger package. Write accordingly. For example, essay three and even the additional fourth essay can also potentially carry the same story, so choose the achievement carefully. Also, within the context of your ISB PGPMAX essay package this should be “your MOST significant achievement” – see that there are no contradictions there.
What is your motivation to pursue a Post Graduate Program in Management for Senior Executives? (500 words max)
In other words “Why ISB PGPMAX?”. “What are your goals and how will the ISB PGPMAX help you attain them?” is also a fair interpretation.
Before we delve into the question however, it will be useful to see how ISB PGPMAX views you. According to them all applicants to the PGPMAX program “have the potential and motivation to become truly global, multi-skilled business leaders. The participants will typically be achievers who have done exceptionally well in a functional domain and are looking to take on general management positions. Senior Executives who are already in general management roles (can) enhance their strategic perspectives and decision making capabilities.”
Having understood their perspective, and intensively researched the program (a look at the curriculum will help) you might be ready to start tackling the essay question. Use application, research and intelligence. Look beyond cutting/pasting info gleaned from the PGPMAX website and make a compelling argument that answers “Why ISB PGPMAX?”. This unasked question will be critical not only for your online application but also later in your interview.
The second significant unasked question is “What are your goals?”. Your “future plans and goals” will be the unique differentiators in this essay. Personalize your answer as much as possible and find as many matches between what ISB PGPMAX specifically (and if possible, uniquely) offers you and your future goals/plans. Credibility and logic, even more than in other essays, are essential in this goals essay. If you can add passion and confidence as well, you have the recipe for a beautiful and effective essay.
The programme requires a lot of understanding of management theory and mathematical concepts. It also incorporates examinations and other forms of assessment. After many years of being away from formal studies, how do you plan to adjust to an extremely rigorous academic life and how can ISB be assured of you successfully completing the programme? (500 words max)
This is a new question, and an entirely sensible and honest one. So let’s approach it with the sensibility and honesty it deserves.
The general perception that older candidates will adapt to scholastic pursuits less agreeably than younger ones is perhaps understandable. Show them how little do they know!
Convincingly demonstrate through brief examples and achievements, the practices, qualities and attitude that make you an excellent student. Willingness and aptitude for learning, a recent history of formal studies (where you hopefully performed well!), recent instances where you gave time-bound examinations, time management and demonstrable understanding of key management/financial/mathematical concepts might be the key areas you might want to focus on.
If you have taken GMAT, do mention and submit the GMAT scores, though this is not mandatory.
Please list any other attributes, achievements (professional or personal), awards, extra-curricular activities or activities outside workplace which you feel would add value to your application. (500 words max)
Use this essay to underscore yourself as a multi-skilled achiever who will be a great addition to the PGPMAX class of 2012. Leadership, decision making, strategic perspective, functional expertise and/or global perspective could be some of your focus areas.
If you are mentioning attributes please justify and substantiate them with apt examples. While mentioning awards and achievements, do give background information that will make apparent their significance.
Volunteer activities, academic achievements and/or hobbies which allow you to further showcase your defining qualities are also welcome.