My HBS Essay that Worked!

For Harvard, I recycled the premise of my Tuck essay, but not much else.  The content, like all my essays, is all HBS.  It is important to focus on the “what else” of the prompt. Don’t waste their time recounting in more detail facts and circumstances already included in your application and resume.  Although the prompt has changed this year, it is essentially the same question. The only difference is the audience; they would like you to address your future classmates, not the admissions committee.

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)

How do I want to be remembered when I die? I answer this every few years with an exercise many would consider morbid, but I find constructive: writing my obituary. Although some things change each time, the theme is consistent. I want a life of lasting impact.

As the first in my family to attend college, I wanted to study a field that would give me opportunities to lead peers and make decisions. I realized business would allow me to make the impact I wished to achieve. Strong academic performance and community service granted me a full scholarship to the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. At Kelley, I rehearsed my leadership method by joining AIESEC, an international student organization that provides internships all over the world. As Vice President of External Affairs, I raised thousands of dollars in grants and established a new partnership with the Indiana University Honors College. As President, I organized a trip to a Tibetan monastery, increased membership by 300%, and lead our affiliate through adversity after a hostile takeover of our parent, AIESEC US.

Careful thought and self-reflection led me to seek a career with a company that was dramatically improving people’s lives. Despite great internship experiences and job offers in multiple industries, I wanted to work for a company that made products that people needed. ABC offered me this chance. After two roles of increasing responsibility at ABC, I wanted to get closer to the patients whose lives ABC was improving. I moved to support the clinical function of our research and development organization. During my time in this department, we produced positive clinical results for gastric cancer, psoriasis, and diabetes. I am proud that the millions of operating expense savings I implemented in the last two years enabled discovery and development of life-saving and life-enhancing medicines.

In addition to my professional role, I have gained a personal reputation amongst my peers. Other analysts ask me for advice on how to connect with a difficult business partner, how to deliver bad news, and, at times, even personal problems. I am honored that they trust me to deliver advice to make their jobs easier and their lives better. After demonstrating my ability to lead my peers, upper management promoted me two levels to the position of Consultant. From this new position, I now lead a three-person clinical finance team.

My vision of improving lives also guided my community involvement. Despite middle-class upbringings, I have been blessed to travel extensively. This travel has had purpose:  to gain international understanding to further my business influence and to make Indianapolis a global and diverse community. After studying abroad and leading international business trips, I searched for organizations focused on making Indianapolis a diverse and globally recognized city. This search brought me to Indianapolis Sister Cities, specifically Indianapolis Hangzhou Sister City Committee (IHSCC). After six months of volunteering, I was asked to join the executive committee as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, I set the strategic direction of our committee, recruited the current generation of IHSCC leaders, and increased membership by 50%. With our new team, we secured $12,000 in corporate funding, curated an exhibition about Indianapolis attended by 40,000 people in China, and were recognized with several prestigious national and international awards for citizen diplomacy. To Boston and the HBS community, I will bring civic engagement and global consciousness.

My desire to impact the world by improving my community and individual lives will continue to guide the decisions I make. At HBS, I will prepare for increased impact with coursework like Richard Hamermesh’s “Building Life Science Businesses” and field courses, such as, “Innovating in Health Care.” Utilizing the case method, I will develop the general management skills needed for the next stage of my career. I hope to continue to develop my ability to lead my peers in student clubs like the Entrepreneurship and Health Care clubs.

After HBS, I will return to ABC to pursue leadership positions, which require broad management skills and strategic thought. Longer term, I aspire to start my own healthcare company and continue to help my community through philanthropy and activism, as the ABC family has in Indianapolis. When I die, I want an obituary about how my HBS experience empowered me to run businesses that created jobs and made products that bettered people’s lives.

Stay tuned for my HBS Post-Interview Reflection! 

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