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Stanford MBA Sample Essays for 2019-20


Stanford Essay 1: What Matters Most to you and why?

For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?

Essay 2:Why Stanford?

Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them.

Essay 3: Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background influenced your participation at work or school (1150 characters / 250 words)

Essay 4: Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? You are welcome to share up to three examples. (Up to 1500 characters, approximately 250 words for each example)

Stanford MBA Winning Sample Essay – 1


Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?

For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?

Two childhood instances that have left an indelible mark on my personality were first when my own teacher out-casted me for completing my homework and leaving school early and second when the government decided to take awake my grandparents’ house. These two experiences have cast the largest shadows on my personality and shaped me into who I am and what I stand for today.

One day, I was XYZ years old and was talking to my newly-made best friend in the school playground, suddenly our teacher showed up. She my friend in a solemn tone: “I had told you and the others to not speak to or befriend with Chloe had I not?  She made sure my friend left me alone there, shocked and humiliated.

I realized I was being punished for playing outside, leaving early not following the 4 pm rule to stay in class, and just focus on homework. In the Chinese education system, parents and teachers are obsessed with academic grades and personal development activities were never a priority.

My parents always encourage me to develop my personality outside of class. I was always good at academics but I also challenged to break the norm and encourage everyone to focus on extracurriculars. My efforts didn’t end there, I started school’s first radio station to encourage learning of English in a fun way. I founded the school’s first student-run journal called “Sound of Eagle” for introverted students to voice themselves out and show talents. As the president of the Student Association in high school, I initiated community services and organized Project “Pairing” and asked kids with top scores to help kids who struggled with the subject one-on-one after school. Since then I have always been a strong advocate of holistic well-rounded development for kids in Chinese culture and one day I aspire to start my own venture.

The second instance happened when after China adopted the “open door” policy for its economy. We grew up as sweeping changes took place across the country and witnessed massive construction and development. As a kid, however, I also saw the other side of the story. My grandparents’ house, a building in central Shanghai with over 140 years’ history, was torn down over a night’s short notice by the government because it “stood in the way” of a new to be-designed inter-city highway route. With their home gone, my grandparents lost their house and we moved out. I determined that if I am ever in a driver-seat, I would make sure that nobody loses their homes and that growth and changes are achieved in a sustainable manner.

During the past 10 years of my career in private equity, I worked with a most driven and resourceful group of entrepreneurs and CEOs from China to helped bring their businesses to the next stage in a sustainable manner. At Morgan Stanley, since day one I was focused on sustainable investment and help companies achieve their end goals in a sustainable manner. I helped the CEO of a private flooring company in China to make his product portfolio more environmentally friendly. I used my valuation expertise to help the founder acquiring two strategic forest assets – one in Peru and one in China, totaling 50,000 hectares, and secured the company’s sustainable timber for its end product. The company is now a leading player in the sector in China and uses 100% sustainable timber for the end-production.

At my current firm, I led a growth private equity investment into an optic fiber communication network company in Myanmar and Cambodia. I knew that the founder business in china was confiscated by the government under the name of strategic importance and that struck a private cord with me. I extensively worked with the founder and company management team to ensure that all the underground cable construction work in the country was in compliance with local regulations. We also made sure that the company set up and followed strictly a standard procedure.  Today our investee company is the largest nation-wide optic fiber service provider in both countries.

I believe these experiences of mine have shaped me into who I am today and decided what matters to me most is the holistic development of a kid’s personality out of academics and making a sustainable investment in our future. I look forward to sharing my experience with a diverse community at Stanford and leverage my learning experiences to make impacts on a larger level.

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. 

I have 13 years of experience in investment Banking and Private equity space. So far, I have managed to grow up to Senior Vice President and then to the Director of our firm. Yet I’m well aware that this is a field dominated by men and according to data from Preqin, even today, only 9% of the senior roles are held by women.

Now, in the short term, I want to upskill myself and enhance my leadership skills to break through the proverbial glass ceiling in the IB and PE space for women and rise up to lead a firm one day.

I first learned about Stanford’s business program 6 years ago when I was working at TPG Capital in Hong Kong for Jim Coulter, the firm’s Founding Partner and an alumnus of Stanford’s GSB. Jim particularly mentioned to me the transformational experiences and unique community the program created which imbibed lifelong leadership and networking skills.

I want to expand my business knowledge beyond Asia, broaden my perspectives on leadership, and strengthen my networking skills. I believe the study trips, TALK experience, opportunity to gain mentorship from world-class leaders are all great resources to develop one’s personality.

I believe the GSB curriculum and community can empower me to expand my horizons beyond IB and PE domains. I like the flexibility the program offers through 36 units of elective courses which give me great freedom in pursuing interdisciplinary topics. I want to take advantage of the curriculum such as Paths to Power, Interpersonal Dynamics, and Negotiations to refine softer skills, enhance knowledge on management theory and improve strategic thinking.

In addition, I want to use this one-year period for personal development. I particularly love the small class size of the program so I can connect with my classmates on a personal level, and build a diverse network for myself.

My long-term aspirations are to start my own platform for impact investing. I believe I can use the network, take advantage of the career development resources, and the ideal location of Stanford in the Silicon Valley to explore opportunities in impact investing which barely exist in Asia so that I can be better prepared to venture out on my own one day.

Therefore, I believe, Stanford offers plenty of avenues for both personal and professional development which perfectly fulfills my desires from a Business school and I strongly believe that the Stanford MSx program can help me achieve my short-term career goals and long-term aspirations.

Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background influenced your participation at work or school (1150 characters / 250 words)

Growing up in china during the era of the economic boom of 1980s imbibed in the penchant to look for the silver lining during tough times and seize the opportunity.

In 2017, in a surprise move, the CEO of my firm announced her resignation. My team was managing US$250 million of investments in our portfolio with a nice track record on return. Soon after the resignation, I started to receive calls from headhunters asking if I’d like to switch firm and get a pay rise.

Staying during the “shake-up”, they say, is not wise or safe. But “safer” options are not usually unattractive to me. I believe chaos opens up the window of opportunity and it is during the most uncertain times when you can really make an impact.

I talked with my boss and together we laid out the game plan and pitched that to the headquarters. For the next 24 months, I stepped up in leading the execution of all transactions and also recruiting 3 new members into the team.  By early 2019 we had closed 11 new investments and grew team size from 2 to 6.

In March 2019, it was announced that our team won the Private Debt investor’s (“PDI”) Asia-Pacific Lender of the Year 2018 award, the most prestigious award within the industry globally.  This award also made our firm the first Chinese institution to receive the honor in the history of the award and I believe this performance prepared the case for my rise to the director’s position.

Stanford MBA Winning Sample Essay – 2


Stanford MBA Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

My family comes from a small town in Nellore, India and my parent only had 2 daughters. I am the eldest of two daughters and today, even I have twin girls of my own. Needless to say that we are blessed with the number of girls being born in our household but the Patriarchal Indian society doesn’t really think of it as a blessing.

Having only a girl child is considered a curse. I first became conscious of discrimination toward women when I was 8 years old. One of our family friends enquired about my siblings; I could make out the apologetic tone in the response “Oh, both are girls.” This patriarchal attitude is common in India, where sons are seen as assets and caretakers of parents in old age while daughters are seen as liabilities to be married off at the earliest.

Although my parents never expressed regrets about not having sons, I was mentally affected. Unconsciously, it became very important to me to prove that daughters can go on to become as accomplished as sons in academics, careers, financial independence, self-reliance and in supporting parents after they grow up. This made me the ambitious, career-driven working mother and the responsible, loving daughter that I am today. My parents were happy to see me become financially independent when I started working at Mu Sigma right after graduation.

In 2012, an incident jolted me and advanced me towards feminism. The brutal 2012 Delhi gang-rape shook me profoundly. As I searched for answers on what causes these incidents, I discovered feminism. Active participation in feminist forums made me recognize the big and small manifestations of gender discrimination and the inter-connectivity between them all. Change begins with self. I realized that when I refuse to give up my own rights, I am contributing towards bridging the gender gap. In a society where arranged marriage is the norm, I chose to marry someone I love, someone who believes in feminist values, in a Shared Earning/Shared Parenting marriage, which I advocate.

Equality begins at home. It was customary in my in-laws’ family for women to eat only after men have eaten. Confronting family on tradition is not easy. But transforming the views of older and current generations is the only way to fast-track change. I started speaking up about discrimination at home and brought awareness to my family. I used my personal blog (link) to increase awareness about gender issues. I started a Facebook community (link), which lists 8 crucial points for the empowerment of Indian women. It has 800 active members today.

I worked to bridge the gender gap at work too. I head the data science department, a function in which gender ratio is very-skewed. I was a speaker at the Women in Data Science conference in Mumbai which supports increased participation of women in this field. I was the only woman in the department when I joined back from maternity leave in 2017 and since then I consciously recruited more women, including a candidate who was starting work after a maternity break. My 25 membered team has 30% women today. It is a good start, while there is still a distance to be covered.

Many women discontinue their careers during or after maternity due to lack of a good support system at the workplace or at home. My organization previously did not allow employees to work from home. In a particular instance, a pregnant employee who had health issues and was not allowed to work from home by her functional head, even though no security concerns were involved. I discussed with her and other employees and raised this with our CEO, highlighting the need for flexible work from the home policy during maternity. Our CEO acceded that we will make exceptions to allow employees to work from home during pregnancy.

I am currently the Vice president at my organization and I do aspire to break through the ceiling and climb up to a CEO’s position in a data analytics-focused firm and then, in the long run, start my own venture. Again entrepreneurship is not seen as women’s forte but I believe I can succeed in it and set an example like many have done for others to follow.

I believe, Stanford can help give my voice more power and carry my message across a larger stage. As a woman, mother and a daughter, what matters most to me today are contributing to a world where my daughters are empowered and signifying that women are allowed to aspire for anything through my individual feminism.

Stanford MBA Essay 2: Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background influenced your participation at work or school. 

When I was on maternity leave in 2017, my husband had to put in very long hours at the office. In India, employers are more understanding of the need for a break for a new mother but are judgmental when fathers want to participate in childcare. I found it difficult to cope with the new changes in my life and manage twins with minimized participation from my husband due to his work constraints.

As a mother and head of the department who deeply cares about gender equality, I have been advocating the importance of fathers’ participation in childcare and have been very supportive of new fathers and mothers in my team towards their childcare needs.

My personal experiences after having my twins was a key motivator for me to push this cause and create a positive impact on my team at work as well. I allowed them flexible work hours and shortened business trips for male employees as well so that they don’t have to give up on client-facing exposure while raising kids.

Along with supporting male staff, I knew that maternity becomes a set-back in many women’s career and am happy to have actively recruited candidates who wanted joining back work post-maternity.

Stanford MBA Essay 3: Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? You are welcome to share up to three examples. (Up to 1500 characters, approximately 250 words for each example)

Example 1:

Quality of education in India is very poor, and orphans are typically enrolled in schools later than other children. When I was in college, I collaborated with one of my seniors to take inspiration from Teach for India, and replicate India for orphanages in Warangal. We pooled 9 volunteers, scheduled visits with two local orphanages, and decided to tutor students on Maths and English, which are typically the subjects where they’re at a disadvantage.

I visited each orphanage once a week. The experience of the welcome we received from the children is indescribable. They were all less than 10 years old, of the primary school-going age, were eager to seek attention and approval, and were eager to prove that they will learn well. We used to break into small groups and explain basic algebra or English grammar to them with individual attention, depending on where each of them stands. It has been an eye-opening experience for me.

I continue to support many not-for-profit child welfare initiatives like Akshaya Patra, ‘EarlyMomentsMatter’ and local Anganwadi today through financial means. As an advocate of gender equality, I also encourage domestic help to invest in the education of their girl children. I offered interest-free loans and have counselled their daughters on education and career options.

Example 2:

During the last 4 years, I have been advising my younger sister on her fashion start-up Young Trendz. They are a low-cost commercial clothing brand targeting young audiences. I have been advising them on various aspects like employee policies, expanding into new product lines, launching new brands, tying up with different sales channels and other strategic decisions.

Majority of their sales happen through online market places. One of their major online partners wanted exclusivity for their brand, offering assured sales in exchange for exclusivity. This was a tricky decision, as this would constrain growth. After discussing sales for different product lines through each of the major online marketplaces, I advised my sister to offer exclusivity on their existing brand and convert one of their best-selling product lines into a new brand which can be open for other market places. This idea worked very well for them and they saw a 40% growth in sales in the following year.

Young Trendz has grown quickly with an annual taxable turnover of 1.4M USD currently and my sister has received several awards for being a successful young entrepreneur. I am very proud of her journey as she had to overcome opposition from my father who wanted a ‘safer’ career option for her.

Example 3:

Mu Sigma has an induction program in which new-joiners are split into teams to work on mock-projects. The objective of the mock-project was to give them a good idea of structured problem solving and apply the technical/analytical skills they have learnt during their training sessions. The hidden objective was to give exposure to approach problems in a business context, learn about team-work, improve communication & presentation skills, inculcate a sense of ownership towards delivery etc.

As a Senior Business Analyst, I volunteered often to mentor new-joiners on mock-projects and have mentored over 20 new joiners. What I loved about this assignment, was the ability to positively influence the early work ethic of youngsters working for the first time in a corporate set-up. I have noticed that positive and negative professional qualities shaped during the first couple of years of work stick around, and influence the long-term career. I had an amazing first manager, who was an inspiration behind my interest in this activity.

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