Xin chào các bạn,
Harvard Business School (HBS) luôn là ước mơ của tất cả mọi người và chinh phục bài luận của HBS không phải một việc đơn giản.
Đề bài của essays của HBS tất cả các năm gần đây hầu như là không đổi
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?
Trong bài viết này, mình sẽ tổng hợp một số bài luận mẫu đã được nhận vào HBS để các bạn tham khảo và có thêm ideas nhé. Các bạn cũng lưu ý, Essays chỉ là một phần của bộ hồ sơ. Có thể có những bài luận không quá xuất sắc nhưng vẫn được nhận vì resume và kinh nghiệm của ứng viên có những điểm hay hơn bù vào.
I have cried exactly four times at work.
The first time was early in my career. It was 2 AM and I was lying in bed struggling with an Excel model. An overachiever my whole life, I was wholly unused to the feelings of inadequacy and incompetence bubbling up inside me. After clicking through dozens of Excel forums with still no right answer, I gave up and cried myself to sleep, vowing to never let myself feel so incapable again.
The second time was a year and a half later. I was unsatisfied with my project and role and questioning my decision to be a consultant. That uncertainty must have been apparent to everyone because my manager pulled me aside and bluntly told me that my attitude was affecting the entire team. I cried in front of him, devastated that I had let my doubts bleed into my work.
The third time was just a year ago. I was overseeing a process redesign and struggling to balance the many changes needed. The Partner called me into his office to say, “I’m worried our process is not as sound as it needs to be. I need to know that you care about this as much as I do.” I nodded, saying that I do, then ran to the bathroom to cry, overwhelmed by how much change I knew was coming.
Each of the first three times was driven by frustration and anger. I had tamped down my emotions to the point where they overwhelmed me. Particularly as a young woman in business, I never wanted to be viewed as a stereotype or incapable. I was ashamed of my tears and terrified at how others would perceive me.
However, each of those experiences proved to be a turning point. My tears motivated me to ask for help when I needed it, pushed me to restructure my mindset and approach, and gave me a moment to breathe, rebalance, and reprioritize. In each case, my work was better for it. I have also used each experience as a learning moment. Each time I asked myself what decisions led me to the point of tears, and what I could have done differently. I could have raised my hand earlier for help, initiated a conversation with my manager about my uncertainty and dissatisfaction, or involved the Partner more actively in the planning and prioritization. While I can’t change the past, I can learn from it and am more considerate of such outcomes when I make these decisions today.
Emotions are an inevitable part of the human experience, and as such, an inevitable part of the office. Rather than keeping them at bay, I have begun embracing my emotions to be a better manager and leader and build more authentic connections. As a manager, I understand my team as people, not just colleagues. I have regular conversations with each of my team members to understand their individual goals and motivations, so I can take those into consideration when building the team structure and delegating responsibilities. As a leader, I invest in traditions and events that foster camaraderie and high morale. I am the proud founder of [NAME OF OFFICE PROGRAM] in the office, a beloved tradition that is now an integral part of the office and that I hope will continue even after I leave.
The fourth time I cried was at the rollout of a process redesign I oversaw. This was our first time demo-ing the new process end-to-end for the rest of the team. As the demo progressed, I felt the team’s energy turn from nervous anticipation to dawning excitement, and finally to sheer awe and amazement. As the demo ended, one of my teammates turned to me, and asked in a hushed voice, “Are you crying?” And I was. This time, I cried not with frustration or anger. This time, I cried with joy for our success and with pride for my team. Embracing my emotions allowed me to show that tears are not shameful and don’t need to be hidden in the workplace. I am no longer ashamed of my tears, and I am proud to demonstrate that a strong leader can be pragmatic and emotional all at once.
Comment: “I started early on my essay (~ 3 months before the submission deadline) because it was important to me to iterate and be thoughtful. I started by laying out potential themes and stories for my essay, and while there are a lot of similarities, the core message changed quite a bit. Don’t get too attached to any one story or theme and allow yourself to let go of a draft if it’s not the right one. What I found most helpful was having 2-3 close friends that I trust wholeheartedly review multiple drafts, because they were able to provide continuous feedback and help me combine pieces from multiple drafts. None of them had ever gone to or applied to business school, but were experienced in writing and communication (e.g. one is a screenwriter) which helped me focus on communicating MY story more so than what is the story that HBS Admissions would most like.”
I am defined by my appreciation for beauty. It started young when my days were spent hiding under the tulle skirt of a wedding dress, organizing purses and tiaras on shelves and complimenting the pretty brides-to-be. I grew up in the midst of my family’s bridal business, which my [WESTERN EUROPEAN] grandparents started when they came to [NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRY]. I witnessed how satin, pearls and lace could transform someone physically. I experienced the effort that went into making someone beautiful for the best day of her life – hours working on your feet, pulling heavy garment bags, coordinating suppliers and seamstresses and managing customer expectations. Despite all the stress, my family remained dedicated to delivering the world’s most elusive product: aesthetic beauty. From this, I learned that beauty requires understanding of another’s, in this case, the customer’s, desire and commitment to produce something differentiated and fulfilling.
My understanding of beauty was further influenced by my love of old films. I would watch All About Eve and Funny Girl as routinely as most children would watch Sesame Street. I was infatuated by the elegant movements and poise that defined old Hollywood glamour. Seeking to recreate this aura, I enrolled in ballet and theater and found my voice on the stage. Through my pursuit of the perfect arabesque or high note, I learned that creating beauty requires intense focus and commitment. This has become central to my motivation and work style. I know that striving for more and pushing beyond can be difficult, but I believe each incremental improvement is a step toward perfection, and though perfection may never be attained, the discovery and passion that develops through the journey is sustaining. This intrinsic beauty is present in the joy I bring toward work and it often contributes to late nights at the office to produce quality work.
I believe my eye for detail differentiates me from many of my colleagues. While we are all able to spot busted model outputs and grammar errors, no one else notices the beautiful bouquet in the hotel lobby or the hesitation in the CEO’s voice when answering diligence questions. My understanding of beauty has evolved beyond perfect dance movements into a conversation with my environment. I pay attention, I listen and learn in an effort to understand. I have come to find that recognizing another’s motivations allows me to communicate my desires in a tailored manner that increases the odds of agreement. Like a chameleon, I examine my environment and adapt to be most effective in my space. Years of character and scene work in theater help me to identify motivations and desires. In college, my favorite activity was improvisational sketch comedy, which required constant attention, experimentation and adaptation. Now I seek yoga and experiences in nature, like hiking, to hone my attention and my ability to listen. In these moments, when the typical noise is quieted, I recognize the harmony in nature and between my mind and heart. To me, beauty is an expression of harmony.
Harmony can be an incredibly powerful tool in the workplace. I relish the feeling of working on a team and driving toward a common goal. My leadership style is to recognize my teammates’ strengths and determine how to align them in a way that propels us toward our objective. As a senior at [PRESTIGIOUS NORTH AMERICAN UNIVERSITY], I was selected to compete in the [NAME OF NORTH AMERICAN UNIVERSITY] Case Competition. I was placed on the international team with one student from [NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRY], one from [CENTRAL EUROPEAN COUNTRY], and another from [SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRY]. I was told the international team always finished last because the other teams were representing a single school and had practiced together for months. Unbothered by our stated disadvantage and how it should dictate our outcome, I focused on the process of coming together with my teammates as a working unit. We listened to one another and relied on one another’s individual strengths to create a presentation that was reflective of our four unique cultures, backgrounds and perspectives. Working 48 hours straight to solve a [NORTH AMERICAN CITY] dairy business’ strategic dilemma with people I had met only 72 hours prior was one of the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences of my life. Defying the expectations of everyone present, we won first place!
As an investor, I have learned that organizational harmony and collaboration are important. [NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM] passionately believes that selecting the right management team is core to an investment’s success. Strong management teams anticipate the customer’s needs and think strategically about the market. Exceptional management teams, however, additionally surround themselves with unique individuals that challenge their views and shore up their weaknesses. These leaders are able to drive collaboration and foster harmony within the workplace. In 2017, I was working on a partial sale proposal for [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY], our portfolio company in the video telematics sector, to a large risk management company. The sale terms were such that the acquiring company would buy half of [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY] today and partially integrate its infrastructure and personnel. It would then have the option to buy the remainder in three years. Everyone was excited about the deal, given the valuation. However, when the [NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM] partner running the deal asked me what I thought, I suggested we pass. I thought [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY]’s culture of innovation would be stifled in the acquiring company and I anticipated the operational complexity associated with leading a half-integrated team. From my perspective, this deal would have destroyed the organizational harmony that had, so far, driven [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY]’s ability to increase bookings 20% per year. We ultimately passed on this deal and completed a partial sale to an investor six months later at far better financial terms that also preserved the culture of [NORTH AMERICAN COMPANY].
In summary, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the table. I look for organizational harmony and strive to create it where it does not yet exist. From the lasting memories and lessons of the bridal business, theater and recent work experience I have learned that observing, collaborating and nurturing teamwork in an investment profession can indeed be “beautiful”.
Comment: “I spent a long time brainstorming ideas. I even wrote a different essay and edited it many times. However, as the deadline approached, I kept thinking back to my conversations with alums who stressed that Harvard is looking to admit people who know themselves. With one week left in the application process, I was in a yoga class and the intention was to think about the thing that characterizes how you look at the world. That is when I realized how central my appreciation for beauty is to my life. I decided to change the essay and asked my parents and boyfriend to review it. We all agreed that the essay captured my essence. My advice would be to write about something that matters to you. When you read your essay, your reaction should be “wow I never would have thought of this before, but it is so uniquely me”.
An early influence on my worldview was my father. He was a Government official who was posted to different locations and hence I attended 12 schools across diverse [South Asian country] cities – from bustling cosmopolitans such as [South Asian city] to small towns such as [a small town in a South Asian country]. However, his boundless encouragement helped me adjust and even excel in unfamiliar school environments. His support provided a model of care, empathy and love which became ingrained in my values. Hence at 18, soon after joining college, I faced the biggest setback in my life when I lost my father to an unforeseen cardiac failure. The incident left our family with a $300/month pension for sustenance. While still reeling from his sudden death, my mother and I had to spend hours dealing with near-endless legal and bureaucratic formalities. Neither of us had been exposed to managing finances before and together we supported each other during difficult conversations with banks, insurance companies and lawyers. This exposure to how the “real” world worked jolted me into a mature outlook and added another lens to the way I processed my college experience at [a college in a South Asian country].
A powerful example occurred during my first year in college when I discovered that a cleaning lady in our dorm had been forced to borrow money from a loan shark for a health emergency and had fallen into a debt-trap. Speaking to other housekeeping staff revealed similar stories of no savings, insurance or credit access. Having recently been in a health-related financial crisis myself, I felt compelled to do something. Together with four friends from the [college club], I organized some basic information sessions on savings and health- insurance for the 70 informal workers in college. Further, our college principal arranged a tie-up with a local bank to open savings accounts for them. The college administration also directly paid the salaries of the dorm ladies into their accounts to encourage the adoption of banking services. We then partnered with [organization], [South Asian country]’s largest women-centric grassroots organisation, to provide low-cost insurance and loan products to our workers. Over two years, we scaled the program to 15 colleges in [South Asian country]. Today, after six years, the campaign reaches over 25,000 informal workers in ten [South Asian country] cities through savings and insurance boot camps. Having this kind of positive impact on the lives of so many underserved workers was a deeply satisfying experience for me and it set out the basics of what I wanted to accomplish during my working career.
I joined [large consulting firm] as a management consultant after college to gain exposure to best business practices across industries. An important part of my [consulting firm] experience was spending a year in [an African country] working on strategic sourcing and supply chain transformation engagements for major enterprises in the packaging and mining sectors. These experiences provided a steep learning curve and fostered a curiosity to solve diverse and complex business problems. However, after 2.5 years, I found myself wanting to apply these learnings in a higher impact space close to my heart. Hence when an opportunity to work as the Chief-of-staff to the CEO of [global healthcare company] came along, I jumped at it. One terrifically exciting project at [company] was to expand [name of medication], our sole women’s health product, into a dedicated brand serving women. At the time, [medication] was parked in our huge gastro business under one division. This focused the management’s attention on the larger gastro portfolio and limited growth of the women’s health business. While evaluating [company]’s portfolio, I highlighted this to our CEO who subsequently decided to split the $100Mn division into two distinct business units. I led a 25-member team to execute the demerger and build the new women’s health team.
We mapped 2000 towns and 30000 doctors to 153 newly created sales headquarters. Splitting the 550-member sales force was particularly challenging as employees resisted moving into a new business unit to manage unfamiliar products. I collaborated with 70 regional managers to identify employees with relevant sector expertise and strong relationships with target doctors. We then convinced them to join the women’s health unit by providing early promotion and better incentives. The dedicated women’s health team launched 13 new products and expanded reach to 15000 additional doctors, helping extend care to women suffering from anemia, vitamin-deficiency, infertility and threatened- pregnancy. These initiatives increased annual growth of [company]’s women’s health business by XX% while expanding access to YYMn additional women patients. This experience gave me an insight into how healthcare organizations can create value for business while reaching underserved populations.
While I was advancing at [company], an impactful personal experience gave me a new perspective on healthcare delivery. During a regular medical check-up last year, my mom was unexpectedly diagnosed with [the disease]. Discussions with a colleague in [company]’s Metabolics team revealed that although the disease affects one-in-three [South Asian country] women, only 30% of that group seeks treatment, largely due to poor awareness and high cost. Over the next eight months, I helped begin several [company] initiatives to address this imbalance. Along with a five-member team, I studied patient profiles and identified women in the 25-45 age-group as most vulnerable to [the disease]. A pan-[South Asian country] survey of this cohort showed that patients failed to associate symptoms such as ‘weight gain’ and ‘fatigue’ to [the disease]. As an initial step, we launched a disease awareness campaign in 18 languages via television, digital media, SMS and mobile vans. Encouragingly, of the XXMn people reached, YYMn tweeted or messaged back enquiring about symptoms, prevention and nearby test centres.
Following-up on this ambitious start, I discovered a more revealing insight. My field-visits to rural [state in South Asian country] two months later showed that the diagnostic centres were distant and located in regions with poor infrastructure, frequent power-cuts and internet unavailability. To ameliorate that, we evaluated various health-tech solutions based on technical and cost criteria. After five months of pilot testing and product redesign, I led [company]’s partnership with [company], a health- tech start-up. The result was a smartphone-based solution to diagnose [The Disease] in 15 minutes at one-tenth the cost. Over the last year, [company] has used this technology to screen 80Mn+ lower-income [South Asian country] for [The Disease]. The experience introduced me to the power of innovation and fueled my desire to solve challenges in healthcare access through scalable technologies.
I aim to be a transformative healthcare leader, spearheading comprehensive-care models for the ~2Bn underserved people in emerging economies. I admire existing models such as [company]’s “[program]” that offers an integrated healthcare solution and “[healthcare company program]” which provides essential medicines to Governments and NGOs in low- income countries at greatly reduced prices. I hope to use such healthcare delivery models as a foundation for my goal.
At HBS, I hope to contribute to and learn from a diverse peer group that is equally motivated to solve meaningful problems. The Health Care Initiative will provide an ecosystem of resources and mentors to build valuable industry insights. The dynamics of the case method will hone my decision-making skills, shaping me into an evolved global leader. The healthcare gap in emerging economies is large, urgent, and obstinate – I want to equip myself to bridge it.
Comment: “It took me 25 days to write my essay. I began by reflecting on the critical milestones in my life. Creating a life map helped a lot and as I started looking at the key turning points/ life events in my personal journey, I asked myself how had each of those events shaped my thinking and perspective. This helped me to identify a common thread of key impactful experiences (personal and professional) that have shaped my personality. I let people (HBS seniors and friends) who were not from my industry to validate my essay to ensure that my story was simple and clear enough for anyone to understand. Through my story, I aimed to communicate the 3 values that HBS says its looking for – leadership, academic excellence and impact. Through feedback and iterations, I fine-tuned my story while ensuring that it remains personal and authentic. I linked these elements of my story in the interview going forward, which helped me pitch myself in a consistent way.”
I’m [APPLICANT’S FIRST NAME] and I have journeyed here from the hallowed grounds of [APPLICANT’S U.S. NEW ENGLAND HOMETOWN], where I spent my formative years amid wild dreams of achieving greatness by setting world records and winning the Olympics. As I’ve hung up my [OLYMPIC SPORT’S TRADITIONAL SHOES] in favor of business shoes, those dreams have evolved into a desire to achieve greatness in a different arena. Today, my dream centers on helping companies leverage technology to propel their operations into the future, providing unparalleled customer service and delivery, with an operational efficiency to match.
I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in [GRADUATION YEAR] and spent my first 3 years out of college working as an operations consultant. It was my job to walk into a manufacturing plant and drive significant operational change – for example, I once spent 3 months walking the sticky floors of a milk plant in [MID-SIZED U.S. SOUTHEASTERN CITY] helping plant management boost throughput by 30% in order to take on a new customer. We accomplished this goal with zero capital spend, a feat many had believed was impossible. In our projects, the biggest challenge was almost always convincing managers to reach for that extra tad of unseen opportunity hiding within the operation, because oftentimes it was very difficult to look beyond the daily struggles that plagued their operations. I worked directly with 5-8 person “rapid results teams,” coaching them on how to think about operational improvement, motivating them to sprint towards it, and leading them through the analysis required to capture it. I left those milk, water and oil sands plants with many enduring friendships and inspiring operational victories borne from our journey from ambitious goals to concrete results.
I’ve spent the past two years working in supply chain management at a private industrial goods supplier. I chose direct management because I wanted to drive these same inspirational improvements in an operation I owned. My role was to manage and improve the operation, and through my experience, I learned the nuts and bolts of the supply chain industry. However, my dream of innovating supply chain operations pushed me to consider transitioning to an organization with an ambitious, transformative purpose. In fact, last year I had a unique opportunity to reflect on what type of impact matters to me. This opportunity was my first ever trip to [NORTHWEST AFRICAN REGION], the place of my family’s origin.
On the second day of the trip, I journeyed to [LOCAL NORTHEASTERN AFRICAN TOWN], a small town nestled next an enormous active volcano that is surrounded by a wide expanse of rich volcanic soil, which is used to make wine. This wine is sipped by adventure-seeking tourists relaxing after a long day on the volcano, and thus the town’s two major industries, wine and tourism, are sustained. When we arrived at the town, I was shocked to see it buried by an avalanche of volcanic rock from an eruption [A FEW YEARS PRIOR]. As our guide lamented on the dreary prospects of the Page 2 of 2 town, I was amazed to see just how important these two industries had been to its development.
Through this real world example, I was able to clearly visualize the impact businesses can have on their broader environment, an understanding that had not been as evident to me while working in the larger, more complex American economy. For example, I had spent hours walking among the dilapidated buildings speckling the warehouse district in Cleveland, but only after my trip did I connect them to the decline of the Midwestern manufacturing industry. Upon my return, armed with this broader perspective, I decided my next step would be to attend business school. There I would gain the technical, operational and leadership skills to make my transition to an organization whose goal was to drive change in its broader industry and community, as those wine and tourism companies had done in [LOCAL NORTHEASTERN AFRICAN TOWN OF FAMILY’S ORIGIN].
So, that is how I arrived in front of you today. My goal is to humbly learn as much as I can from our section, our professors, and our experiences. I am excited to get to know you, and will always do my best to support our section intellectually and athletically (we will be the future section Olympics champions!).
How about yourself?
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While the initial draft of my essay did not take more than an hour or two, it was the revision process that I spent a significant amount of time on. I think the most important part of the essay writing process is to ensure that your story and personality come through – and this is perhaps the most difficult part! To help with this, I had individuals who were not as familiar with my story and why I wanted to go to business school provide me with feedback in addition to those with whom I worked closely.
In 2012, I realized a life ambition – I completed my first novel, all while working full time at [Top U.S. Investment Bank]. I could not wait to share it with the world and eagerly went in search of a literary agent. But each agent I contacted declined to represent my novel.
Storytelling is my lifelong passion; it saw me through a difficult childhood. After my father left, my mother raised me as a single parent in [U.S. City/State], a rural Bible Belt town two hours south of [U.S. State]. We did not have much money and that coupled with my bookishness made me a target for bullies. Books and writing were an escape; they gave me an avenue to articulate the feelings of abandonment and powerlessness I otherwise did not want to express. Writing made me happy and the more I wrote, the more my talent blossomed. I began to win awards and my work was published in youth literary journals. These experiences made me more confident, a key part of my success later in life. It all started with a pen, a notebook, and my imagination. Nevertheless, I was passionate about my work and was determined to put it into readers’ hands. In true entrepreneurial fashion, I self-published my novel through the digital platforms Smashwords and Createspace. I worked with a promotional expert to organize a month-long book tour to promote the book to prominent book bloggers and their readers. The result? My novel has received multiple 5-star reader reviews, from Amazon to Goodreads, and was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Stories are an integral part of the human experience. They uplift and inspire, give us permission to dream and to visualize what could be. Storytelling has been an integral part of my career, from building financial models at [Top U.S. Investment Bank] that illustrated my expectations for the companies that I covered to delivering a presentation to [International Daily Newspaper]’s chief revenue officer explaining why reducing ad prices for tender house advertisers would not lead to an increase in revenue.
My passion has also informed my growth as a leader; I believe my most impactful expressions of leadership have been my efforts to help others write the narratives of their own lives and careers. At [Top U.S. Investment Bank], I created an informal mentorship program for female and minority interns and first-year analysts in the research division and led a “soft skills” class to help new analysts handle difficult interpersonal situations. For four years, I’ve mentored a young Hispanic woman through Student Sponsor Partners, a nonprofit that gives low-income students scholarships to private high schools. Being a mentor gave me the privilege of guiding another first generation college student along what I know can be a lonely, difficult path. This fall, she started college with a full scholarship.
Storytelling will be a part of my future career path; as an MBA graduate, my goal is to obtain a position in strategy and business development at an entertainment company that specializes in film or television. Long term, I want to start a multimedia and merchandising company with a publishing arm (books and magazines) as well as film, TV, and digital operations. Using strong, fictional heroines and informative lifestyle content, my company’s goal will be to educate and inspire women to become their best selves. My particular focus is creating compelling, multidimensional characters to inspire young women of color, who are constantly bombarded by negative images of women who look like them in media.
I’m pursuing a Harvard MBA because I want to become a better business strategist and strong general manager. Also, I want to further develop my leadership and presentation skills as I will manage professionals on the content and business side; it will be my task to unite them behind a shared strategic vision. Specifically, I want to learn how to motivate teams and individuals to perform at their highest level, and to become more adept at persuasion and generating “buy-in” from others. Harvard’s unique approach using the case method and emphasis on leadership development will challenge me to grow in both these areas. I also feel that I have much to contribute to Harvard’s community. My varied background in finance and media has given me a unique perspective that will be valuable in classroom discussions and team projects. I want to share my passion for the entertainment industry with my classmates by chairing the Entertainment & Media club and planning conferences, career treks, and other opportunities.
My background gives me the capacity for fearless thinking that is needed to meet the challenges of the entertainment industry’s shifting landscape. A Harvard MBA will strengthen that foundation and help me to become the kind of dynamic leader who can bring the vision for my own company to life and be at the forefront of entertainment’s structural shift.