London Business School has published the MBA Application Essays for the Class of 2018. This year, there are three essay questions with 500, 300 and 300-word limits. The essays cover post-MBA plans; specific area of LBS MBA program that interest the candidates; the value that applicants will add to the school, and other information that candidates would like to share with the admissions team.
LBS MBA Essays for Class of 2018 (Entering 2016)
Q1. What are your post-MBA plans and how will your past experience and the London Business School programme contribute? (500 words)
Most applicants have three career goals – change in career, advancement in career, or explore career options through the MBA program. Before applying to LBS, applicants should have one of the two career paths – change in career or advancement in career. The reality is that most candidates experience multiple facets of management education during the first year. With the experience, students make up their mind whether to pursue the plan that they had developed before MBA or change direction with the experience in the first year. Schools, however, expect candidates to have at least one career path ready while writing this essay.
Many might not have experienced consulting in the strictest sense, not at least in Management consulting where you have to give opinions about Business bottlenecks and ways to improve process efficiency. The process of offering solutions during your pre-MBA job consists of steps that are similar to consulting.
1) Discovery Phase
This phase has the biggest impact on the solutions you offer. You have to develop a problem statement by considering the multiple moving parts of the company. Gathering requirements without understanding “why” the problem has occurred will lead to recommending partial solutions. Based on the context of the problem – marketing, technology, or finance, you might have had to bring in your team of experts. The only difference from the domain-specific solutions that you have worked pre-MBA from consulting solutions that you would eventually offer is that for the former, the discovery phase is much shorter (2 weeks). The key stakeholders for the project have already been assigned, but in consulting, you have to interview all the stakeholders related to the problem. Then, strategically create an environment for open conversations so that you get to the root of the problem instead of getting a one-dimensional view of the problem from someone higher in the hierarchy.
2) Analysis Phase
As with the analysis phase of any project, where you might have separated the relevant from the surplus set of irrelevant data points and conclusions, analysis phase in consulting can be time-consuming. The one difference while doing analysis for consulting solutions is that the data in itself might be corrupted or skewed based on the stakeholder, who has offered the information. As a consultant, you might have to go back to the key decision maker and verify each data. This is rare in projects you have worked during your pre-MBA days.
3) Recommendation Phase
For a consultant, the recommendation phase is the most important part of the process. They develop charts, slides, and reports to analyze the problem, and recommend a solution. Consultants cannot charge $500 per hour if the employers have any doubts about the feasibility of the solution. Not all the solutions are readily accepted. There will be debate over each recommended point. For the inexperienced consultant, redoing the recommendations till the Employer accepts them is a common occurrence. Even experienced consultants have to redo some recommendations. The balance of confidence and a willingness to accept mistakes is a quality that defines a successful consultant. Most importantly, there is selling involved in the phase. This is not the case with your pre-MBA project. You are assumed to know about your domain, and, therefore selling your solution is not vital. In most cases, as a solution provider, you might have to develop a prototype for products. For services, you have to offer a trial option to prove feasibility. For management consulting - the idea is the solution.
4) Implementation Phase
Most likely, as a consultant you will not hang around for the implementation although it depends on your contract. Some Employers would like the consultant to hang around throughout the project and help the implementation team through each roadblock. But with $500/hour and upwards, it does not make economic sense to keep the consultants for another 6 months to 1 year. This is a major difference between your pre-MBA experience and your desired post-MBA job function as a consultant.
Most LBS MBA applicants will describe the implementation phase to highlight how their mind works and demonstrate their teamwork and leadership. This limits a candidate’s salability in MBA applications. The three phases – discovery, analysis, and recommendations, are equally important.
So let us imagine that you would like to join McKinsey as a Strategy Consultant. If that is the case, the admission team wants to hear how your pre-MBA experience in Discovery, Analysis, and Recommendation phases will help the consulting project in the future. What strategic solution did you create?