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INSEAD Sample essays Set 1
INSEAD Essay 1: Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved.
I have been working as a Consultant with Alcatraz Management Consulting (dummy name) since June 2013, helping global financial clients solve complex business problems through advanced analytics. I help clients make strategic business decisions by providing deep business insights, and attain their risk adjusted return targets in a cost effective manner using quantitative and statistical models. In addition to working on consulting assignments that generally last for 4-6 months, I also play a key role in new business development in India and US markets.
Within 2 days of me joining the company, I was assigned to an extremely challenging and grueling project, where, playing a pivotal role, I achieved the daunting task of developing 4 acquisition and risk models, helping the Auto finance client reduce losses by $20M in their dealer finance portfolio. I also handled the orientation process of an analyst, going on to mentor him, mentored a analyst, developing his quantitative skills and bringing him at par with the team. I received appreciation from the MD for having created significant impact in short period of time.
Subsequently, working across a multi-cultural team, I helped a leading US bank develop ‘Platinum Standard’ narrative for CCAR regulatory regime of portfolio size of $2B. I was bestowed enthusiastic appreciation by the client for my detail oriented work and presentation skills.
Currently, working for the largest India business strategy engagement, I have initiated and led the development of analytics built specifically for the General Insurance portfolio. I also helped the client leverage segmentation and predictive modeling technique to generate revenues of £8M, thereby playing a key role in successfully converting the pilot phase into a 2 year client engagement.
INSEAD Essay 2: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company?
If I were to remain in the same company, my next step would be to take up the promotion coming my way in the 2016 review cycle and become a Manager. With increased responsibility, I would be leading the client engagement from end-to-end and handling multiple portfolios. Also, I would be managing a 10-member team comprising of consultants and analysts. In addition to my core responsibilities, generating new business deals and maintaining a strong pipeline of diverse projects would be an area where I’d be investing significant time and effort.
INSEAD Essay 3: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.
In a bid to apply my versatility and managerial skills, I started my career in the financial industry with a challenging managerial role with Acuralife Old Mutual life Insurance. I worked on Business Analysis and Project Management on multiple IT strategy projects, aiding generation of $20M revenue for the company. Working closely with McKinsey consultants on an initiative to improve Sales performance, I led the countrywide implementation of the same – a successful project that helped me evolve from a Management Trainee to a Project Manager.
Inspired by my interactions with the McKinsey team, I decided to make a move to consulting by joining a global boutique consulting firm ABC Service in its Decision Analytics arm. Here, I strengthened my technical, quantitative and client management skills while working on complex quantitative Economic Capital Modeling for Solvency II, managing a multi-cultural client team at the largest P&C Insurance Company in London. I led the implementation of an innovative automated data management technique, and helped restore the client’s confidence in their sensitive data, computing Capital numbers of €2B. The only resource to have gained significant exposure in Solvency-II space, I mentored my colleagues in the domain and led the acquisition of new business worth €4M for my firm, receiving a quick promotion within my 1.5 year tenure there as recognition of my achievements.
In order to gain deeper exposure to Actuarial pricing and underwriting concepts, I joined the world’s largest insurance firm, METLIFE (dummy). The only resource with significant Insurance risk experience, I shared my knowledge and skills with my colleagues. Capitalizing on my distinguished risk exposure, I led the development of highly sensitive Solvency-II regulatory report for global METLIFE entities with portfolio size of €1.3B. Further diversifying my business repertoire, I led competitive market analysis and pricing optimization for German and Belgian METLIFE entities for revenue portfolio of €29M. I was also given the prestigious responsibility of representing India in the METLIFE global Big Data team.
Advancing my career, I joined Alcatraz to gain experience of working in a large management consulting firm, further enhancing my consulting experience working for wider financial domain in the field of risk and strategies. I also became a certified Financial Risk Manager, GARP professional and clear CFA level 1, and learnt several quantitative Actuarial techniques.
Thereby, I evolved from being a successful business analyst and IT strategy project manager, to becoming a global professional consultant helping financial clients leverage deep business insights using quantitative and managerial skills.
INSEAD Essay 4: Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with or without an MBA from INSEAD.
My short term goal is to work as an internal consultant for a global Insurance client in EU, widening my repertoire of knowledge and skills to become a subject matter expert.
I have had fascinating experiences working for large Insurance clients across multiple geographies such as UK, EU, US and India in diverse functions, especially while working on the most Solvency-II regulatory regime. I am passionate about the industry and want to capitalize on my experience, skills and knowledge to surmount significant challenges marring the industry, among which regulatory risk is the topmost boardroom priority. But with challenges come tremendous opportunities - I intend to help the firm leverage integrated risk management to reduce regulatory risk and realize operational efficiencies, covering both opportunities and threats. Furthermore, I would like to work across departments such as corporate finance and strategies, using my managerial and technical skills, and innovating thinking to bring in the required business transformations.
In the long run, I hope to take up a leading role in helping the insurance firm expand its global footprint, especially in emerging markets that offer huge growth potential for insurance firms due to the existing significant gaps in insurance protection.
I would strive to achieve this goal with or without an MBA. But I believe that INSEAD can provide me the right environment and the toolkit required for me to achieve my goals. INSEAD’s strong curriculum in Finance and strategy, and truly diverse student community will be instrumental in not just helping me focus on my future path, but in also broadening my horizons. Having interacted with 4 INSEAD alumni, and worked closely with 1 of them, I am of the firm belief that INSEAD is the place for me to evolve as a global Insurance leader.
INSEAD Essay 5: Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (approximately 500 words).
Till the age of 16, I lived in a joint family of 15 with meagre family income – an experience that inculcated in me the values of love, tolerance, sharing and respect for others. I did my early education in a far-flung rural town in Eastern India, where basic necessities such as round-the-clock electricity, healthcare and infrastructure were absent. Having spent most nights studying under the light of a kerosene lamp while battling mosquito menace, I used my humble background as motivation to excel and cracked India’s most prestigious entrance exam IIT JEE, ranking among top 0.05% of 800,000 candidates. Being the eldest among my siblings and cousins, I have constantly guided and motivated them to excel in their chosen fields, especially my younger brother, who suffers from continuous severe pain from incurable Ankylosing Spondylitis, so that he maintains a positive outlook to life.
These experiences taught me empathy, which has been an asset in my endeavors. For instance, while I was working on the firm’s most critical project related to sales performance and incentive calculation at Acuralife Insurance firm, the situation became extremely challenging when the Project Manager, 9 years senior to me, resigned. As his subordinate, I was left with the daunting task of leading the project with extremely complex dynamics involving 5 business stakeholder teams and 2 software vendor teams, and tiding over some initial hiccups when the project missed a critical milestone, I was determined to rise up to the situation despite being the youngest in the 25-member team. Putting myself in the shoes of the stakeholders and building credible relationships, I efficiently delegated tasks and resolved conflicts not by imposition but by consensus among stakeholders, thereby gaining their trust. Acting as a techno-functional bridge, I drove the project to success and it was featured as ‘Best IT Implementation of the Year’ in PC Quest magazine.
Versatility, and intellectual and creative thinking comprise another core strength in my repertoire. Having worked across geographies, functional domains and roles, on both consulting and business sides, I have incessantly and promptly learned new things and excelled. At Alcatraz, I have helped an Indian client create an Analytics structure from scratch. Using my creativity, I cross-pollinated ideas from various domains and geographies such as from risk to pricing, from banking to insurance, or from UK-EU or US businesses, helping clients realize great efficiency and generate £5M in new business.
I falter sometimes by way of slow decision making. Analyzing this weakness of mine, I have realized that it happens in scenarios where I lack awareness of all contributing factors, and hence fear making even trivial decisions. To remedy this, I now classify issues in degrees of importance: For trivial matters, I base my decisions on intuition to improve my efficiency, while for sensitive matters, I perform thorough analysis and checks, and seek guidance.
I believe I can strengthen my personality studying with the diverse cohort at INSEAD, learning not just from the curriculum but also my peers’ experiences.
INSEAD Essay 6: Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned (approximately 400 words).
My most significant achievement occurred during my stint with the largest P&C Insurance client in London on Solvency-II, the most challenging insurance regulatory regime. The situation was tough - My team was replacing another consulting firm, and we faced hostility from a section of senior management who were averse to this change. Taking regular feedback from the client and proactively acting on it, I gained their confidence. Leading a team of 2 analysts, I drove business data management and data analytics to feed into the capital model. Liaising with 10 multi-functional business teams comprising of people from 10 different countries, I developed an efficient and automated innovative solution, improving visibility and accuracy, and halving turnaround time. I also gained strong footing in capital model through research and interactions with the client team. Taking additional responsibility on critical capital modeling components, I contributed to reducing the Economic Capital by £20M by using efficient internal model. Impressed with the results, the client signed a £5 million new business deal with us, and I was granted a promotion.
This achievement increased my confidence in my leadership potential in highly demanding consulting domain. I learnt that hostilities can be handled by engaging in a dialogue with the concerned party. One should rely on one’s strengths to handle the sensitive situation before experimenting with unknown or weak areas.
Shortly after joining METLIFE, I led a 4-member team for a pricing-related assignment for METLIFE France entity. The team was experienced and well versed with the job at-hand, while I was still in a dilemma about my future as a Pricing Actuary. While I was busy contemplating my options, suddenly the client had new challenging requirements, and since I lacked the necessary knowledge and involvement to comply, my manager had to step in to do damage control.
This failure of mine resulted in me losing credibility with my team and manager. I realized the importance of alignment of all team members’ goals, and saw firsthand how a lack of motivation on the leader’s can jeopardize the project. New in the organization, I put in efforts to regain credibility through both formal and informal interactions with my colleagues. I conducted knowledge sessions with my team, sharing my previous experiences and achievements, and showcasing my motivation and abilities, and worked on understanding the pricing domain. This experience also highlighted the need of an MBA to achieve my long-term goals.
INSEAD Essay 7: Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way (approximately 300 words).
Diverse cultural experiences have played a major role in building my character - From my early village life to working and traveling across the world, it’s been quite an enriching journey.
In 2014, while working for the largest US bank, the Accenture team in New York encountered a challenging situation: the client insisted on delivery of critical CCAR regulatory requirements ahead of planned schedule. Client meetings were short, and client communication was direct and blunt, resulting in the absence of a rapport and consensus. The situation worsened when the problem was escalated to our Managing Director, putting us under mounting pressure.
Taking stock of the situation, I sought advice from colleagues at US Alcatraz and Wall Street. I decided to be an objective observer and keep an open mind, withholding my judgement. I did not assume or interpret behavior based on my own culture or past experiences. I engaged in discussions politely and set realistic client expectations, which were readily agreed to. Working round the clock to resolve the situation, I, supported by facts, negotiated and stood my ground. My efforts closely resonated with my Indian colleagues who quickly took the cue for their work-streams. We regained client’s confidence, helping them successfully meet crucial regulator timelines and deliverables.
This situation reinforced for me the importance of cultural understanding in developing a global outlook and creating global impact, and the need to learn about a country or organization’s work culture before embarking on a new endeavor with them. Despite having significant cross-cultural exposure, I’d missed this important aspect in the midst of work pressure. Keeping my emotions in control, I learned to appreciate the openness of American culture; they tend to be direct in handling situations and dissociate the person from their failures and mistakes, thereby attacking the issue directly.
INSEAD Essay 8: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (Approximately 300 words)
My philosophy behind leading a natural and harmonious life revolves around two realms of existence - the spiritual and the material. The former has inculcated in me compassion, integrity, new perspectives to human behavior and willpower for self-transformation.
For 8 years, I have cherished every bit of my association with non-profit spiritual organization ‘Sugam Disha’. Everyday, I wake up at the break of dawn and practice meditation. I attend group meditation sessions every Sunday, and partake in group discussions and routine management activities of the Ashram. I have been involved in various volunteering programs with the mission, right from research work for their literature to raising over 1M pounds for setting up an ashram in London to conducting sessions of ‘Heartfulness’ initiative for growing spiritual awareness. I led the control room for a 3-day spiritual gathering of 50,000 cross-cultural participants, wherein I patiently helped ensure that all attendees were provided with necessities and had a good experience.
I enjoy exploring natural beauty, and learning and imbibing new cultures. Geography was one of my favourite subjects, and as a child, I’d learned all the country’s major train routes. I have travelled to more than 18 countries, and many destinations across India. I love taking calculated risks and challenging myself: I have trekked on the treacherous ‘Valley of Flowers’ route at 11,500 feet above sea level, and experienced white water rafting in raging river for 7 continuous hours.
Sports is another of my passions, helping me stay fit and make new friends. As my college’s fastest cricket bowler, I won many laurels for my team, and have continued to impress with my cricketing skills, winning major corporate trophies. An active member of Tennis clubs in both India and London, I use my adaptability and quick learning to consistently improve my game.
INSEAD Sample essays Set 2
INSEAD Job Essay 1 : Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)
I work for Company ABC in India as a software engineer in the Gadget technologies group. I am responsible for the development of some of Company ABC’s new products as well as for creating new modules for existing products. Besides, I also investigate the feasibility of executing certain projects and interact closely with the product management to decide features for some products. I also have to interact with Gadget Manufacturers such as Ricoh and Epson which are Gadget Group’s customers.
I am currently working on next release of Product 1, Company ABC’s flagship product. In this project, I work very closely with Senior Product Development Manager based in Company ABC Norwich (United Kingdom) for my day to day engineering activities. I also have the added responsibility of coordinating issues with the Quality Engineering and other Product 1 teams all over the world for the smooth completion of this project. Along with the Senior Product Development Manager, I report to the Senior Engineering Manager, one hierarchical level above what my peers with similar work experience do.
It is worth noting that every copy of Company ABC Product 1 will carry my name in its credits. On occasions, I represent Company ABC or Gadget Group at international conferences and meetings. I also act as Company ABC India Gadget Group's link to APPLE. Here I oversee how Gadget Group’s products are affected by APPLE’s products and technologies and vice versa. In addition to all these activities, I mentor and train new recruits at Company ABC.
INSEAD Job Essay 2 : Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)
My career progression so far has been highly rewarding. During campus placements I was offered job by Company ABC and Trilogy. I joined Company ABC because I wanted to work on best technology and products. Initially, I added new features to Company ABC’s PostScript. In November 2005, I was invited to deliver a presentation on Image Processing at IEEE conference in Frankfurt. My paper was published by IEEE and my work was greatly appreciated by delegates from all over the world.
In January 2006, because of my exceptional performance, I was selected to work on Product 1, the most important Company ABC product. I started reporting to the senior management. Interaction with product management helped me in understanding the processes involved in bringing a product to the market. My expertise on Macintosh was growing every day and I represented Company ABC at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference held at San Francisco in August 2006. This was a crucial conference because future of certain Company ABC products was dependent on the outcome of my talks with domain experts. Through these trips I learned the art of negotiating and networking. Recently, I filed a patent for a solution that will make some Company ABC and non-Company ABC products more efficient. Due to these accomplishments I am now rated as one of the top talents at Company ABC India.
If I were to remain in Company ABC, I will be promoted to the post of Lead Developer (senior role in product engineering) in the next review in May, 2007.
INSEAD Essay 1 : Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words approx.)
I have consciously endeavored to grow positively as a person with each passing day. I am a person of varied interests, ranging from the technical research (papers) to the business (website and Company ABC products) to the artistic (painting) to the altruistic (community service). I always integrate my diverse interests so that my skills and activities complement each other. My self-conviction and ability to make powerful determinations has facilitated my journey from a humble beginning to a successful professional life.
I’m all about possibility rather than subscribing to a rigid set of values. Therefore no matter how daunting the situation might be, I am able define a clear roadmap. My ‘out of box’ thinking has made me accomplish more within a specified time period as compared to other people. At 23, I have already filed one patent and another is under process.
I’m the person friends turn to when the going gets rough. I have grown in a joint-family of 22 people and sustaining relationship has come to me naturally. Throughout my academic, professional and community life, I have made friends for life. My constant exposure to new cultures and people and my good communication and presentation skills have made me a good team player.
My self-confidence has been another of my strengths, enabling me to follow my dreams fearlessly. As I believe that there is no alternative to honesty and hard work, I have always worked honestly and diligently to realize my ambitions. I was a merit scholarship holder throughout my under graduate engineering program. My initiative to target Indian automobile market and facilitating the users to make an informed decision has given me the vision to start my own website.
Although I firmly believe in myself but I have always been open to criticism and feedback and I have used this as a practice to constantly improve myself over the years.
Many times, my zeal to complete my task to my best ability affects my performance adversely. While filing my first patent application my attempt to refine the application many times digressed me from the crux of my invention. I kept this in mind while writing my next patent application. It got accepted.
I believe my ability to learn quickly, my focus and diligence, my technical prowess and interaction with people from diverse background has played an important role in shaping my personality and I am still learning.
INSEAD Essay 2 : Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words approx.)
Accomplishment 1: Filing a patent
At Company ABC, I realized that there are numerous opportunities to demonstrate my analytical and technical skills. During the second half of 2005 we at Gadget Group at Company ABC came across a challenge to provide Gadget manufacturers a solution to increase the speed of color Gadgets.
After working on this project for about a month, I devised a solution from approaches we had not before considered. The results were far better than what I had anticipated. After a discussion with the top-level management, I submitted this idea and prototype to the Company ABC Patent Review Board. After six months of rigorous investigation, the board gave me a green signal and I filed the patent.
I view this as a significant achievement. The customers who are using this solution have witnessed sales boost, which in turn has strengthened Company ABC's relations with Gadget manufacturers. This was the first patent filed by the Gadget Group since its inception four years ago. My efforts were applauded by the entire management. Company ABC India’s Managing Director, Naresh Gupta, congratulated me personally as I am also the youngest individual to file a patent from Company ABC India.
Accomplishment 2: Launching Indian cars website
In early 2006, I realized that Indian car market and number of Internet users in India were growing at an unprecedented rate. This made me and my friend conceive the idea of a car website, to provide potential car buyers with unbiased information, reviews and expert opinions and consultancy on cars in India. We successfully launched the website “carbazaar_dummy.com” .
The venture was divided into four phases. The first phase encompassed an analysis of the Indian car market and car buyer’s practices and reviewing car manufacturers’ websites. The second phase included design implementation. In phase three, we gathered market feedback through demos of the site's prototype. The final phase involved feedback-based revisions to the designs and simultaneous talks with car magazines and TV shows. We successfully launched the website sometime back. Recently, a leading Indian car magazine evinced interest for collaboration with the website.
I consider this a major accomplishment because it gave me a space to successfully manifest my entrepreneurial side and to turn my ideas into reality. I gained a lot of confidence by establishing something from scratch. I developed new skills and learned some aspects of e-business which complement well what I learn at Company ABC.
INSEAD Essay 3 : Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words approx.)
During the final year of my B.E. course, I started to work on the idea of a real estate website targeting Delhi . Although the resources were limited, I created some interesting layouts and workflows and set up the website. While I was planning to launch it, I came in contact with some experienced people in this domain and realized that I had made some grave mistakes. For instance, I overlooked signing agreements with real estate agents for procuring updated market information from them. In real estate business, without latest deals and information, it is impossible to establish a solid customer base. Lack of advertising and in-depth study of existing real estate websites exacerbated our problem. I realized that I wasn't able to persuade big interior decorators and furnisher makers to advertise on the site because of the presence of websites that had a much larger penetration.
Soon I found myself standing at a dead end. It was clear that I needed to fold this project. The moment was heartbreaking because this was the first idea I had conceived; I badly wanted to make it a success.
However, closing this chapter allowed me to open a new one. In this respect, James Joyce's observation that "Mistakes are the portals of discovery" could not be more accurate. My mistakes were costly and painful, but they actually allowed me to refine my understanding of the market, competition, and advertisement. I launched “carbazaar_dummy.com“ successfully. The benefit has been mine, in the end.
INSEAD Essay 4: Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career. (500 words approx.)
I have always quantified everything in numerical terms besides dealing with everyday situations objectively. Experimentation work during college enabled me to put my ideas into practice and gave me a tremendous sense of fulfillment. Moreover, various responsibilities, roles and projects in the past two years have made my product engineering fundamentals very strong.
My technical prowess and vision was appreciated by Company ABC and I got a steep career growth in a short span. While I have excelled in my work, I have also explored my capabilities as a leader and a manager and begun to understand the value of MBA in my career. I look at a senior position in a product/services company as my short term goal and as a long haul I see myself heading my own product enterprise and turning my ideas into action.
I envisage an enterprise which would tap unique user requirements and develop cutting edge products on a global scale. Working in my present role I would require the experience of years to steer my organization. However, an education in business administration can help me take a jump start and move towards achievement of my eventual ambition of total organizational control.
An MBA can make me well versed with the forces that control the smooth running of an organization besides grooming me as a manager to contribute to the success of my organization. I am painfully aware that my zest and enterprise alone are not sufficient to make my business and the choice of INSEAD as my business school is influenced by my career objectives. Most of my experience has been in product engineering and I need a better insight of strategic management, risk analysis, financial management and marketing techniques which will make me an effective professional.
The INSEAD MBA emerges as a natural choice to me because of the world-class faculty, diverse student community and global curriculum. The diversified peer group at INSEAD will help me learn about business in different countries of the world .The huge alumni base will help me develop networks crucial to launching my own entrepreneurial venture. Another really good thing is that the MBA program is customizable with a good mix of core and electives. I would definitely like to pursue ‘Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise’ as one of the main electives. Also INSEAD is one of the rarest B Schools which have two campuses in two culturally and economically different parts of the world. It gives the best opportunity to understand business in both Asia and Europe. INSEAD's ‘Business Venture Competition’ would give me the opportunity to explore and implement my ideas in a real time and risk free environment.
Post INSEAD, I will seek a position in a leading corporation in its business building/growth practice to get an insight into the practical issues of new business creation. I am confident that my work experience, combined with the wisdom and business acumen to be gained at INSEAD, will put me on the path of spearheading my company.
INSEAD Essay 5 : Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words approx.), or
b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words approx.)
A strong inclination to attend conferences and my work experience at a global company like Company ABC has given me the opportunity of traveling to three distinct parts of the world. Encountering new cultures and customs initially shocked me, only to make me embrace those cultures later. Frankfurt, Germany was the first of my destinations abroad. Here I noticed that the locals in less cosmopolitan areas were strongly disinclined to talk in English. Because of the language barrier I had a hard time visiting a suburb near Frankfurt.
Next, I went to San Francisco, California. Here, a close interaction with an Indian taxi driver revealed that the standard of living of a taxi driver in California was better than that of a middle class person in India. Quite a revelation, that. The taxi drivers own cars manufactured by Audi and BMW which are considered dream cars in India and are owned by a handful of people.
The third international destination I visited was Hong Kong. The biggest shock for me here was getting acquainted with the food habits of the people. At a restaurant I found people sitting next to my table eating snakes. As much as I appreciate cultural differences, it did take me a while to get over this one.
Each one of these experiences has helped me become a more broad-minded individual. I understood that one needs to be flexible towards practices and customs of different cultures. I am now comfortable with people of different cultures, a trait that's indispensable in today's global economy.