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Chicago Booth MBA Application Essays 2020-21


  1. How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)
  2. Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (250-word minimum)
  3. Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (300-word maximum)
Chicago Booth Winning Sample Essay – 1


Booth Essay 1: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)

I have 6+ years of professional experience after graduation and I am more than grateful to have a fulfilling career so far. I started out at McKinsey as a Business Analyst, joined GoJek (Indonesia’s first unicorn) and now I am the co-founder of AwanTunai, a series-A supply chain financing start-up serving Indonesia’s unbanked population. Post-MBA, I aspire to come back and grow my start-up to be the largest platform serving MSMEs’ financial needs.

At McKinsey, I worked tirelessly on a range of projects, from advising a multinational palm oil on its profitability to aiding the Central Bank in formulating Indonesia’s Financial Stability Framework. These clients facing consulting projects help me harness my problem-solving, and client management skills very early on in my career. My hard work paid off when an ex-alumni of Mckinsey heard of my performance and asked me to join his start-up to help build Indonesia’s first on-demand ride-hailing service. Here I hustled for the next 3 years, I built GoJek’s new businesses and led its first Growth division as the Vice president while helping Gojek to grow into Indonesia’s first unicorn.

Being in Go-Jek gave me the confidence and I mustered the courage to found my own start-up, “AwanTunai” with the vision to offer affordable financing to Indonesia’s unbanked population. As we grew, there were quite significant obstacles we faced. I personally had to step-up drastically, including leading our team to pivot and letting go of friends who wavered in the mission. Yet we prevailed, and now I manage a team of more than 80 warriors that disbursed a total of ~$7m loans to 3000 merchants, empowering them with the capital needed to grow their businesses.

Yet fulfilling the ultimate mission to serve millions would not be straightforward. I believe I lack the strategic knowledge and leadership capabilities to navigate a growing startup in the highly-competitive landscape. I think I need to upskill myself in terms of strategic business acumen and leadership skills to lead my own startup. After consulting my mentors from Mckinsey and GoJek an MBA seems to be a perfect fit at this stage of my career which can allow me to develop myself into a more holistic business leader and better prepared to grow my startup back in Indonesia.

I believe that attending Booth’s prestigious MBA program would enable me to fulfil the gaps in my skill set.  As my undergrad degree in business has equipped me with foundational business knowledge, I find it essential to hone on specific strengths that are crucial to developing my business in the fintech space, such as the concentration in Business Analytics and Strategic Management. Using Booth’s rigorous yet highly flexible curriculum I can customize my learning goals as per my needs while helping me acquire relevant skills in today’s Tech world through its STEM-eligible degrees as well.

Second, I was really impressed with Booth’s distinctive based approach to learning and implementation of data in various fields that will ensure I have a competitive edge in the real world. I look forward to experiencing Booth’s Kilt Center for Marketing and the recent impact of Booth’s focus on AI, both of which are highly relevant for the functioning of my fintech start-up.

Booth Essay 2: Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (250-word minimum) 

Throughout my life, courage has driven my choices. From befriending youths involved in gang brawls to choosing growth over comfort in my careers, I’ve often gone against common consensus. Courage also helped me found my start-up, AwanTunai, which earned me a place in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019.

I believe I got this trait from my father. Despite being born to a poor fisherman, he aspired for a better life and worked relentlessly. Against ridicule by his peers, he obtained education and took courses to improve himself. When offered an opportunity to work abroad, he braced himself and took our family across the globe despite knowing very little English at the time. By doing so, he changed our fortune and gave me a lesson that I’ll always carry forward: the courage not to fall victim to circumstances and drive my fate.

This lesson influenced me to hold a meaningful yet ambitious project during my tenure as President of McKinsey’s Young Leaders for Indonesia, in which I led a team of college students to help Jakartan youths in slum areas escape gang brawls and find a job. We trained them to write resumes and send those to companies. I would never forget the feeling of collective hope when the gang leader got a job. We even kept in touch for years after the program, and the community even comforted me by holding prayers when my dad passed away.

That experience contributed to my decision to leave my distinguished McKinsey career to join Go-Jek. As a sole breadwinner at the time, many questioned my decision to leave a stable job. But through its mission to connect service workers with jobs, I was sure my work at Go-Jek would be impactful and help people earn better income. I took another leap in faith as I helped Go-Jek grow from a 50 member team in a torn-down house to a Unicorn with more than 2000 employees.

My GoJek adventure allowed me to take more significant risks at AwanTunai, a company I co-founded to provide affordable financing for unbanked communities. After six months of operations, we were caught in the collapse of the P2P consumer financing industry and had to undergo a painful pivot. Through significant improvements in sales productivity and risk management policies that I helped to lead, we became the first P2P lending firm providing tech-enabled supply-chain financing to offline micro-merchants. Our team has grown up to 100 people, and we’ve disbursed a total of $7m of loans to date. I strongly believe that my courage to take bold steps in my career and passion to help my community is now truly making a change in their lives for the better. I believe it is due to these contributions that Forbes acknowledged me in its Finance and VC section of its annual Asia 30 Under 30 awards.

The passion for changing lives and the courage to aspire for better and not let fate dictate my circumstances are what drives me, and I look forward to contributing more during and after Booth.

Optional Essay: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (300-word maximum)

First, I’d like to give a tremendous appreciation for providing this section, which I want to use to explain my lower-than-average GMAT score for your institution.

Consistently graduating at the top 10% of my class, I’ve never had issues regarding academic and analytical performance.  I graduated Magna Cum Laude and was awarded the Top 10 Graduates at Faculty of Economics Universitas Indonesia, a faculty that produced four current Ministers of the Government of Indonesia.

Upon graduation, I joined the competitive Strategy and Finance Practice in McKinsey, where I had an accelerated promotion with “Above-Average” mentions in my problem-solving skills.

However, my due to the long gap of 6 years away from academics and the hectic working schedule of a startup has given me limited opportunities to study and hit a high-score on GMAT. Though by no means is this an excuse, I am confident that upon admittance, I’d complete my studies in a way that upholds Booth’s prestigious reputation.

Chicago Booth Winning Sample Essay – 2


Booth Essay 1: Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth, and why is Chicago Booth’s Weekend MBA your program of choice? (400 words maximum)

Throughout my career so far, I have worked extensively in the technology sector. Also, during the past couple of years as a project manager, I have acquired excellent client handling skills and manage people from diverse backgrounds. I have also taken multiple initiatives for clients on the projects/products I manage, which have fetched me numerous accolades and appreciations.

However, among all this, I have always felt challenged by the strategic and behavioral aspects of business and leadership, respectively. For instance, recently while working on a customer project who planned to implement the Agile framework, I had a hard time convincing some of the key stakeholders about Agile efficacy and eventually had to propose hiring an external consultant (Accenture) to convey and implement the same. I want to pursue an MBA to bridge this gap in my capabilities & refine my leadership skills to be an all-rounded business leader. These experiences have motivated me to step up from project implementation to the strategy and consulting aspect of the technology sector.

After extensive research and conversations with Booth Alumni like Mr. Pranav Sohoni & Mr. Chandan Singh, I believe Booth’s MBA is in perfect sync with my targeted goals and desired learning from an MBA program. I think that Booth Weekend MBA will help me bridge the skill gaps & achieve my short-term goals primarily because of

Flexibility to choose curriculum & Associated Clubs – The best part I liked about Booth’s curriculum is more than 50% of courses (11/20) are electives that offer the freedom to chart our career paths.

International Exposure – Second, I believe global work experience is highly valued in the consulting industry, and Booth’s International program IBEP can provide me with the opportunity to gain cross-cultural and academically immersive international experience while studying.

LEAD program – Thirdly, the unique approach to Leadership Development with ‘Leadership In Practice’ workshops will be a great way to develop myself into a well-rounded business leader. Not only that, I am looking forward to being an active member of Consulting & Technology Clubs to hone my case cracking capabilities and also social clubs such as Wine Club to make enduring bonds with my fellow class members.

Overall I am confident that Booth’s unique approach to leadership and focus on career transformation will help me achieve my professional objectives and with my academic potential and project management experience, I can add significant value to the Booth community.

Booth Essay 2: The University of Chicago’s motto is “let knowledge grow from more to more, and so be human life enriched.” Please tell us how your individual perspective and experiences will enrich and have an impact on the Booth community. Feel free to use examples from both your personal and professional life. (300 words maximum)

Throughout my personal life, I have always had a strong belief in enriching human life and helping the ones in need. One particular instance that left an indelible mark on my personality is when I found out that my best friend/cousin is HIV+.

Back in the early 2000s, being HIV positive carried a huge social stigma in Indian society, and he was afraid to disclose it to the family and definitely couldn’t do it alone. At that stage, even my knowledge about HIV is minimal. We reached out to an NGO – Vihaan, for further help and counseling. The NGO was a significant milestone, and it helped my friend to regain the lost dignity and also start on medication. Through the help of the NGO, we were also able to counsel the family members and explain to them how we can help my cousin lead a healthy life.

While my best friend’s life was back on track, the experience truly moved me. I decided to work with the NGO to create awareness about HIV. We visited corporate institutions to spread awareness, raised funds, and opened counseling centers in 23 institutions. We also organized marriages & guided prospective partners to lead a happy life together. Today, my best friend is leading a healthy and prosperous life, and I take pride in the community efforts I have led, which I genuinely believe enriched a small number of families.

This experience taught me not only how to deal with diverse people, but also how to overcome cultural and awareness barriers to forge understanding and life bonds. I am confident that at Booth, with my peers who have the same fundamental beliefs in community enrichment, I can carry forward the learning and lessons to create an even more significant impact in the community.

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