INSEAD MBA Essays: Question Prompts & Successful Sample Essays

By Arvind Kumar

INSEAD MBA Motivation Essays: Question Prompts

Essay 1: 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 (maximum 500 words).

Essay 2: 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(maximum 400 words).

Essay 3: 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, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (maximum 300 words)

Essay 4 (Optional): Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (maximum 300 words)

INSEAD MBA Job Description Questions: Question Prompts

Question 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. (200 words maximum)

Question 2: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company instead of going to business school? (200 words maximum)

Question 3: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (300 words maximum)

Question 4: Discuss your short and long-term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (100 words maximum)

Question 5 (Optional): If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme. 

Get a free profile evaluation

If you would like a candid assessment of your profile, book your free profile evaluation session now.

INSEAD MBA Motivation Essays – Successful Sample Essays

Essay 1: 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 (maximum 500 words).

Looking back on my life, I would say my journey so far has been one of using mental resilience and adaptability to overcome adversity. My mental fortitude has helped me deal with the pressures of running a sprawling business and with bouncing back from its eventual failure. I have had to stay strong due to my father’s chronic kidney failure and subsequent transplant, while at the same time managing multi-million client projects in my day job and running a fledgling business on the side. These high-pressure life experiences have helped me develop a strong work ethic, intense focus and a deep appreciation for the value of teamwork.

I become self-reliant and adaptable to change at an early age. My family periodically relocated cities due to my parents’ transferable job, and I had to develop the ability to take in the new circumstances and make friends quickly. This habit served me well later on in life when I was selected for a prestigious undergraduate internship at the University of Bath, UK. I felt invigorated and excited by the exposure to a new culture. Interacting with a diverse group of people imparted a sense of belonging in me after my fragmented childhood social life.

Another trait which has helped me in my professional life is my appetite for competition – I am excited in the face of a challenge and always put my best foot forward. After coming back from the UK I set my sights on securing a consulting analyst role at one of the MBBs. Despite competition from 400 of my fellow students, I was the sole person selected for the top business consulting internship at Microsoft from my college. Through my dedication and with the help of my prestigious internships I finally achieved my goal and secured a placement offer as an analyst at Bain. 

My ambitious and dedicated nature also has its downsides, in that I sometimes take big risks without adequate preparation, and put too much pressure on myself when I am not ready to handle it. This trait is what made me abandon my placement offer at Bain to try and save my newly established family business. Despite my best efforts I was unable to prevent its failure. In hindsight, I can clearly see that I did not have the requisite business experience and skills to take on that challenge, and I should not have taken that risk. 

My resilience and determination helped me to bounce back from this failure. I got back into consulting with an Analyst role at (Confidential), where I achieved 2 promotions in subsequent years through my hard work and dedication. I combined my learnings and utilised my strengths to launch new entrepreneurial ventures in the F&B space, which I have grown to $100K+ in revenue in the first year itself. I feel the INSEAD MBA is the perfect place to work on my areas of improvement and utilise my strengths to take my career forward.

Essay 2: 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(maximum 400 words).

My professional career has been deeply influenced by certain pivotal events and the important learnings I have taken from them. Chief amongst these has been my first entrepreneurial attempt – during my last year of college, my father and I started a dairy farm business with our family’s savings. It quickly became apparent that the business was struggling, and I felt compelled to abandon my placement offer of consulting analyst at Bain to join the start-up in an attempt to safeguard my family’s fortunes. However, due to unfavourable market conditions and our own mismanagement arising from inexperience, we were unable to rescue the business and had to shut down with massive losses.

I learned a very hard lesson—good intentions and hard work are not enough to compensate for a lack of experience and business acumen. Indeed, this pivotal experience has shaped me profoundly and made me value business experience and know-how as critical attributes. I used these learnings and experiences as my bedrock while starting my second business – The Charcuterie Co. Starting and growing this business has been my most significant professional achievement.

I started this company in 2021 to translate my passion for European gourmet food to the Indian palette. However, as soon as I had started this venture along with my day job, my father was diagnosed with kidney failure. I had invested my life’s savings into my business and I could not justify shutting it down; thereby losing my investment and rendering my newly hired staff redundant. 

My family and I continued battling against all odds, and we arranged for a kidney transplant. My father is now on the path to recovery and is doing well. Despite the difficult circumstances, I stayed mentally strong, continued working on my business and built up to monthly £13,000 in sales. Turning the business into a success after the tough start has been even more meaningful to me after my first failed attempt at entrepreneurship. I will aim to translate this mental fortitude as well as my entrepreneurial mindset to my career and life post my MBA.

Essay 3: 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, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (maximum 300 words)

Having grown up and extensively travelled in underdeveloped parts of India, I have had the chance to see food-poverty and its devastating effects firsthand. Since my college days I have been volunteering with various charities such as the Rotaract club and the Delhi NCR Foodbank to do my part in eradicating food insecurity in India. Using my businesses in the F&B space I play an active role in making and distributing food packets, most recently with the Chattarpur AKSM Trust Foundation. Helping to combat India’s food poverty problem is incredibly fulfilling, and I feel this endeavour has helped me grow into a more empathetic person.

Through my business I have partnered with some of India’s largest art galleries and exhibitions in the past year, and have subsequently developed a passion for art and creative design. I am a member of the Bikaner House Art Collective which has given me the chance to interact with India’s biggest artists, such as Paresh Maity and Jayasri Burman. This exposure to the art scene in India has furthered my own creativity and encouraged out of the box thinking in my business pursuits. 

I also enjoy physical exercise and sports. I am an active member of the Siri Fort Sports Club. I have run half-marathons before the COVID pandemic and am currently in training to run a full marathon before starting my MBA program. Working out has made me more disciplined and mentally strong as a person, and has helped me be more productive throughout my day.

Other than this, I am an active member of my college’s mentorship group. I have recently mentored 2 juniors in business fundamentals and case studies and helped them gain their dream consulting jobs, which has been a personal high point for me in the past year. 

Essay 4 (Optional): Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (maximum 300 words)

One of the reasons I am attracted to the INSEAD MBA program is its emphasis on diversity, inclusion and international experience. The program also places an emphasis on its cohort having strong international experience and a history of working with diverse team members. I believe I satisfy these criteria and will be a good fit with the dynamic and diverse cohort at INSEAD. 

I have spent most of my professional career working with international clients and teammates. Starting with my 3 month internship at University of Bath, UK, where I worked on a robotics project with a team comprising people from over 20 nationalities. This was an exciting opportunity for me and I found it exhilarating to work alongside people from different backgrounds and nationalities.

During my time at (Confidential) I exclusively worked for international clients in my 3 year stint, during the majority of which all my managers and team were based in either America or Europe. I worked alongside people from the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Costa Rica on a daily basis. I was also in line to be internally transferred to the US. This however did not end up happening due to the COVID pandemic and my father’s subsequent medical problems. 

I am intent on joining INSEAD due to its focus on consulting careers, incredibly diverse cohort and the culture of excellence which the school embodies. I have had several conversations with current INSEAD students who have all encouraged my application and given me valuable insight into the school. I look forward to the chance to travel extensively and learn from and alongside a diverse cohort at INSEAD.

Learn from Adhiraj’s insights on his successful INSEAD admit with scholarships

INSEAD MBA Job Description Questions – Successful Sample Essays

Question 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. (200 words maximum)

I am currently managing 2 companies, both of which I have founded in the last 18 months. The first is a gourmet food delivery and catering company which I started from my home kitchen and have grown to a team of 20 employees with monthly revenues of ~€15,000. In my day to day work I oversee quality control, drive new product ideation, handle high value customers, review marketing and sales performance and manage HR issues.

The second is a hospitality consulting business which I run with my business partner and chef. There are 5 employees, and our average monthly revenue is ~ €4,500. I am directly responsible for new lead generation and conversion through sales platforms and my professional network. I advise my clients on their overall business strategy, build their brand concepts and run PMOs for their projects.

Previously I have worked as an Associate Consultant at a boutique management consultancy where I led a team of 5 analysts and managed client projects with average baselines of ~$30M – $200M. My diverse experiences have helped improve my business acumen and team management skills, and I look forward to contributing my experience to the INSEAD MBA cohort.

Question 2: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company instead of going to business school? (200 words maximum)

My current aim is to continue growing both of my businesses and achieving sustainable profitability while transitioning myself to a hands-off chairman role instead of an executive role. In the short term my aim is to get back into the corporate world and progress my consultancy career. I feel the best way to set my business up for success is to recruit experts in the field, empower them to deliver their ideas and give them the tools for success while I gain further experience, connections and capital through my consultancy career. I feel the INSEAD MBA is the perfect place for me to build these capabilities while simultaneously enhancing my profile in order to better negotiate start-up funding for my businesses.

If I were to not go to business school I would still try to transition back to a consultancy career to build my skills and connections. I would target a Consultant role and aim for a company where I have the possibility of internally transitioning to a strategic consulting role in a European/US geography within 2-3 years. Simultaneously I would also begin exploring angel investment options for one of my businesses instead of waiting for sustained profitability.

Question 3: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (300 words maximum)

At the time of my graduation from college I had secured a placement offer from Bain for a consulting analyst profile. I ultimately chose to not take up this offer and joined my newly started family business in organic and sustainable dairy farming. I became the managing director and had directly oversaw  finances, marketing, sales, product development and quality control. In 1.5 years we grew annual revenue to $180,000 and expanded our distribution network to 5 other cities. Additionally we secured large B2B contracts and negotiated financing in tough COVID market conditions. However, despite our best efforts we could not attain sustainable profitability and had to shut down operations in 2019.

After this setback I joined (Confidential) in 2019 to develop my analytical and consulting skills while gaining direct exposure to client projects. I gained promotions in successive years, advancing from an Analyst profile to an Associate Consultant within 3 years. Towards the end of my tenure was managing a team of 5 analysts while directly handling $30M – $200M categories on billion-dollar projects. I developed a specialisation in logistics and supply chain management with a focus on the North American and European geographies.

In 2021, I launched a gourmet food business while continuing with my day job, with the intention of pursuing my passion as well as giving my entrepreneurial ambitions another chance. In the first year of business, I grew it to $100K+ in revenue and now manage a team of 20 people across different functions and domains. I have also launched a hospitality consulting business where I aim to couple my business skills with my team’s culinary expertise to help young professionals start their own F&B businesses. We have delivered 5 projects in 3 cities in our first 3 months and continue to expand.

Question 4: Discuss your short and long-term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (100 words maximum)

Through the INSEAD MBA I am targeting a switch in geography from India to Europe, particularly the UK/Netherlands. I am also planning to switch my profile from an operations/procurement role into a strategy consulting profile at a global consulting firm such as the MBBs, Kearney or Strategy&.

In the long term, I aim to combine the expertise, connections and skills I build in my consulting career with my prior entrepreneurship experience to realise my ambition of becoming an innovation and sustainability focussed entrepreneur. I believe an INSEAD MBA is the perfect path forward to realising this goal.

Question 5: If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme. (Optional)

If I am successful in my application, I plan to take a 2 month vacation before the start of the programme. In this time I will fulfil one of my big dreams – to backpack solo across south east asia and explore the exciting cultures of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. 

I also aim to take an active role in the organising of the annual Diwali ‘bhandara’ (communal food distribution) at the Chattarpur AKSM Trust Foundation, which feeds up to 500,000 food insecure people on festival days. Helping alleviate India’s crippling food insecurity is one of my personal ambitions and I have partnered with several institutions across Delhi through my food kitchen for social work. I would like to take this endeavour one step forward and actually help organise the massive logistics behind this mammoth charity event.

Another personal goal I would like to complete in this period is to participate in a full-length marathon, for which I have been training for the past 6 months. Having run half-marathons in the past, it would be a big achievement for me to take the next step and cross off a bucket list item.

Learn from Adhiraj’s insights on his successful INSEAD admit with scholarships

Get a free profile evaluation

If you would like a candid assessment of your profile, book your free profile evaluation session now.

1 thought on “INSEAD MBA Essays: Question Prompts & Successful Sample Essays”

Leave a comment