Free Harvard MBA Essay Samples |
Aringo consultants are the top in the world!

The following essays were written by ARINGO candidates who got accepted to Harvard Business School MBA program over the past few years. Read these Harvard MBA Essay examples to get a sense of what they are looking for at Harvard Business School. Contact ARINGO for help with your HBS MBA essays!

I frequently encountered the need to make decisions of considerable importance during both my managerial and my military work. However, one of the most difficult decisions I ever made was a personal decision that concerned my future. This internal conflict could better reflect who I am.

In the last four years I have progressed, with great effort, in two areas: the business-managerial area and the political area. In both fields I have accomplished, considering my age, significant achievements. In the business area, I served as Vice President in a private company owned by my family. In the political area, I worked in a few positions in my municipality. My aim was to acquire diverse experiences and knowledge, and this aim was achieved.

A year ago, I reached the conclusion that it was time to decide if in the near future (in 10-20 years), I wanted to attain a career in business management or a career in politics. I reached a point where without setting a general goal, I could not progress to other decisions (my next job, my masters degree field etc.).

To resolve this conflict, my first step was to decide to make my decision by the deadline I set (June 2000). I realized that my years of experience in both areas were a part of a learning and searching process that granted me the necessary instruments to make this decision. My conflict was very sharp, because I knew that any decision I would make would mean giving up one area of activity and one career aspiration- political or managerial. Moreover, much data concerning the future was naturally missing and my decision had to be rather arbitrary – a very difficult situation for a strictly rational person. Nonetheless, I knew that having numerous options could be a dangerous situation. Not concentrating on one career option, out of fear of missing the others, might leave a person behind in all areas, and this contradicted my ambition.

Eventually, about half a year ago, I decided to steer my future to a business management career. I feel that in this area I will be able to express my talents effectively and to bring a significant contribution to society. I believe that turning to a political career in the far future, after a successful managerial career, is an adequate and natural option.

From the moment I decided, I have not looked back or hesitated. I started to focus on how to implement my decision. Consequently, a few days later I sent a Request For Application Material to Harvard Business School.

I learned a lot about myself in the decision process I went through. I underwent an important and healthy process of developing, focusing, and maturing. I devoted numerous hours to contemplating basic questions – What do I like to do? What am I good at? What role should I play in the community that surrounds me? I solidified my perspectives and came out stable, strengthened, and determined.

Long Run Objective

My long-run objective is to achieve a senior managerial position in a large multinational corporation that markets, or preferably manufactures, commodities. One of my highest aspirations is to be one of those who establishes, or significantly advances, such a corporation. Therefore, I intend to develop within the scope of one firm. I believe that on my way to achieve my goal I will express my talents and interests and contribute to society’s prosperity.

Short Run Objectives

Looking ten years back, I view my interdisciplinary experience in business management, army service, political and public positions, and traveling as a part of the solid background that can generate a successful senior manager in a multinational commodities corporation. To complete my preparation process, my short-run objectives are:

a. First – to acquire quality general academic education in business administration while also mastering the English language.

b. Second – to develop within the scope of one firm.

HBS – a Measure and a Target In Itself

I wish to say, sincerely, that in my opinion HBS will fulfill my first short-run objective optimally. HBS has the qualities that best fit my expectations, objective, and background. The more I hear and read about HBS – the more I feel I belong there; it is considered the best school in the world for developing general management skills and acquiring management tools in the marketing and consumption areas. Graduates gain excellent placement services and leading positions. HBS has no competitors in academic level and in world-wide fame (I learned that from talking to people in China, Eastern Europe, and Arab countries).

In conclusion, I believe that studying at HBS will be a great experience. Moreover, it will provide the optimal accomplishment for my first short-term objective, as well as a significant advancement towards achieving my long-term goal.

As a project manager in Business and Strategic Development, I very much enjoy the challenge of uncertainty that comes with developing an idea into a business. It requires me to be at my best, in order to anticipate problems and therefore reduce the risk of failure. I had to take an idea and conceptualize it to a cash-flow-producing concept. Every decision that I made regarding this project was driven by assumptions. Inherent in these assumptions was a high degree of uncertainty. My effectiveness was measured by the extent that I was able to eliminate uncertainty, and this challenge made my assignment very exciting and enjoyable. I had to use my creative and analytical intellect to its fullest to successfully eliminate some elements of uncertainty. In specific, I had to challenge myself to find new and inventive ways to acquire information about a young but very competitive industry segment. Every time I was able to eliminate another element of uncertainty, I felt a sense of achievement, which enabled me to pursue the end goal with full dedication and commitment.

On the other hand, I don’t particularly enjoy conflicts between team members fought on a personal level and the resulting need for arbitration. When working in a team, there are very often differing views on the direction of the project. These conflicts are very healthy for the team, but can be destructive when fought on a personal rather than on a professional level. As project manager, I had to mediate between team members fighting such a conflict. The challenge lay in the fact that this conflict was fought on a personal level. Consequently, I could not take sides with anyone, in terms of project direction, without causing one of the team-members to feel personally attacked. Moreover, I would create a sense of favoritism, and therefore risk losing one team-member, which I could not afford.

In every company there are two kinds of customers; the internal customers who are the employees, and the external customers, who are the consumers and the business partners. In the past, I focused too much on the internal customers and neglected my relationships with the external customers. I strongly believe that if you take good care of your employees, they will take good care of your external customers. I understand, however, that I have to find a balance when dealing with these constituents.

During my time as a project manager, I realized that my constant interaction and communication with team members took away from building good relationships with prospective business partners. Consequently, I did not have a solid relationship with business partners which I could build on in times of conflict. In addition, the lack of familiarity with some business partners had a negative impact on my managerial abilities. Occasionally, my information on the progress of a business partner’s assignment was not up-to-date, which led me to provide my team members with outdated information. Consequently, some decisions had to be reverted since they were based on wrong facts and assumptions. A more balanced approach will enable me to avoid these mistakes in the future.

Saving Lives

Four years of intense training led to this moment, and I knew what to do without thinking. As squad commander in the elite Air Force Commando Unit, I served my country during a war. I received notice that a platoon of 50 soldiers was under heavy attack, and my squad had to save them.
I had ten minutes to process the situation, devise a plan, assign tasks, communicate status to superiors, and make life-and-death decisions. We had exactly sixty seconds to execute the mission with complete precision. Bullets sailing overhead, my mind was completely focused on leading my brave men and saving the trapped soldiers.
I felt the full weight of the situation only after all soldiers were safe and able to return home to their families.
As a squad leader for three years, I often had to get my men out of dangerous situations. Planning a mission to save so many lives during wartime made this experience the most substantial in my military service.

Creating Synergy

Flying to ____ Headquarters, I couldn’t believe my luck! Selected as lead developer on the ____Unified Communications Sync Server project, I convinced my manager to permit me to initiate collaboration with our American counterparts and persuaded a senior colleague in Washington that working with us would benefit his product.
When I first got the assignment, I knew that working with Americans could add significant insight to our development. A history of failed collaborations by senior marketing managers made my managers reluctant to approve the plan of a junior engineer like me. Undeterred, I reached across two continents and ten ____ ranks and convinced a senior software architect in Redmond that working with us would develop their product while stabilizing ours. Everyone finally agreed, and I went to lead the collaboration in December 2007.
In Redmond, I established relationships transcending this project, aligning both teams’ development processes and paving the way for future joint ventures.
This accomplishment gave me international experience and exposure to senior colleagues at an early stage in my career. That the partnership benefited both people and products makes it my most substantial contribution in a professional situation.

Validating My Vision

Leading a software development team to overcome obstacles and build a floral service website is an accomplishment that confirmed that creating state-of-the-art consumer products was what I wanted to do with my life.
After a month of work on our final computer science project at the University, we discovered we were going in the wrong direction. We were frustrated, but nothing gets me going like a challenge. I had a plan, and I knew I had to lead by example to motivate the group. I was always the first one in the lab and never the first to leave. I constantly improved my own task, the graphical user interface, demonstrating that I required the same commitment from myself I asked of them. Each time we met, I focused on one of the guys with a smile on his face and leveraged the opportunity by making him an ally to help me get the others motivated. I even stressed the fact that this project gave us experience with new technology that would be very beneficial in upcoming job interviews.
My team chose me to present the final project. We got a perfect score, but I received something even more substantial: a vision of my professional future.

My name is ————-

I started writing this essay on a piece of paper, but that’s exactly what I’m not.

Let me introduce myself properly.

I am my parents’ child.

My parents are a driving force in my ambition to make this world a better place. My dream of pioneering my own Ed-Tech start-up first began at my kitchen table, where my parents – an educational strategist and a high-tech executive – would share stories about their work.

My dad, a farmer turned president of a tech company, showed me that determination succeeds in any environment, from the fields to the boardroom. My mom, an education innovator and social justice advocate, impressed upon me the importance of proper and equal education for all. My parents showed me that a profession is more than advancing just yourself or your family – it’s about advancing society.

I am determined to reach and exceed my parents’ achievements, in my own way, by combining the passions born from my life’s biggest influences – education, technology and management.

I’m driven by the desire to use technology and open source principles to improve education in remote and rural areas around the world.

I am a global citizen.

Just before I entered first grade, my father was tapped by a former army commander to work in high tech. My view morphed from the rolling hills of our town to skyscrapers, the songs of birds replaced by honking taxis.

Two days after arriving in America, I found myself in a public classroom, without a single friend or a word of English to my name.

Feeling embarrassed and confused in class led me to spend my afternoons memorizing the ABC’s and scanning books in English. I forced my parents to give me English lessons every night when they returned home from work. After a year, I felt completely at home, and I even mentored new foreign arrivals, preparing them for what to expect at school and helping them to practice English.

We moved back to my town after six years, but the experience abroad was foundational. Acclimating to a foreign culture at such a young age opened me in ways that have been essential to my personal and professional growth. Long afternoons of learning made me an independent learner – a skill I use often at work today, mastering new programming languages and conducting in-depth research at my employer’s innovation center.

Overcoming my language barrier at a young age taught me to be patient, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and instilled the value of mentorship. These insights helped me to become a highly cooperative person whom others feel they can trust.

I am a leader.

I first learned to lead as captain of my high school basketball team, leading my team to a national championship against all odds. We had less talent, less experience, and we were (on average) 4 centimeters shorter than our opponents. In the end, our teamwork and friendship prevailed. After winning the championship, I was invited to scrimmage with the national team. I insisted they allow my entire team come.

Becoming national champions showed me the value of persistence and never underestimating you own abilities, or the abilities of your team. This was especially instructive when serving as a paratrooper; I suffered a serious back injury from long treks with heavy equipment. My commanders presented me with two options: take a desk job, or sign an extra year beyond my mandatory service to attend Officers’ School and afterward lead an elite unit for special operations and technology development. Determined to make the most of my service in spite of my injury, I chose the latter.

Just like the basketball team I led, my first project as started as something of a lost cause: I was handed responsibility for developing a $2.8M thermal tracking device alongside a world-leading military contractor. The project was over a year behind schedule, manned by an exhausted, frustrated team.

I never doubted that we would reach the ambitious 8-month goal the army had set. I created a comprehensive Gantt to meet development, finance, logistics, and HR benchmarks. I worked hard toward creating cohesion between army and civilian team members.

When additional product features required more capital to develop, I used my nights off to create marketing campaigns that I pitched to higher-ranking officers – to countless colonels and even a brigadier general. I solicited private donations from dozens of international donors, tailoring each presentation to their cultural preferences and priorities.  I raised $1M in capital, we met our deadline, and our unit became the go-to unit for product development and for special tech operations. After the release of the thermal tracking device, I led 7 additional projects with budgets totalling $4M.

I believe that Ed-Tech is the future.  

Growing up in an immigrant community, I developed a close understanding of what it meant to live in a poor, remote part of a country. Teaching at-risk teenagers and elementary school orphans in Thailand brought meaning to my mother’s words, “Education is the distance between have and have-not.” Technology is the only way to shorten this distance.

I intend to leverage my technological skills, experience as an educator, and the business acumen I’ll acquire at Harvard to create Ed-Tech products to increase access to education through low-cost applications based on based on collaborative knowledge sharing and big data analytics.

My tech achievements thus far give me the confidence that I am ready to bring my own products to the public.

I developed a start-up company, an online platform for professional development and recruiting. I drew capital for entire project with nothing more than belief in my idea and very convincing power point presentations. Today, My company has thousands of users and is the main professional development platform for several multi-million-dollar tech firms.

Global change begins from local change, and my country is fertile testing-ground. After my MBA, and hopefully following success as a product manager with an Ed-Tech firm, I intend to pilot my own projects in my country’s periphery, targeting underserved populations.

Harvard is my calling.

More than being located in my beloved childhood hometown, Harvard Business School is the place that piqued my interest in management sciences. I had the opportunity to accompany my dad to HBS courses while he was studying with the Advanced Manager’s Program. Sitting in the AMP courses ignited my interest in case-studies (I ended up reading every study in my father’s folder!), and I enjoyed in-depth discussions with professors like Richard Vietor and Guhan Subramanian. I am fortunate to be able to continue my interaction with HBS through reading articles and case studies on the IBM learning portal.

Harvard is the quintessential learning experience. Through innovations in EdTech, I believe the Harvard standard can become a world-wide education standard.

I’m an adventurer, a risk taker, a challenge seeker. I’m an educator, a leader, an entrepreneur and a social innovator.

I’m not just my past, I am my future; and I’m about to embark on a new chapter of my life, with you, at Harvard.

Beyond the achievements written in my CV, I would like you to know more about who I am through three important lessons I have learned. The first lesson I learned from my parents, the second from my soldiers and the last lesson I learned from my comrades.

From my parents I learned the importance of dedication to my goals. I am the eldest of five siblings, and until I reached junior high all five of us slept together in the same room. Even with limited financial resources, our parents promoted personal development and insisted we all learn to play an instrument and master at least one sport: I played piano and practiced judo. Music and sports taught us to set our goals and to keep improving in order to achieve them. As a result, I grew up to be very mission-driven: quickly analyzing the main factors involved in reaching a personal goal and aligning them around the objective. With the ability to clearly visualize the goals of my organization or the needs of my community, I am able to take initiative, identify opportunities and drive everyone involved towards achieving them.

As a graduate of the Defense Force’s technological leadership program, I saw the need for combat officers with technological expertise. Therefore, although most of my program classmates pursued roles as developers or engineers, I elected to fill a demanding role in a field unit, where I could contribute my knowledge and understand first-hand the technological needs of our fighting forces. I saw my opportunity to make an impact as a combat officer in a highly technological and elite operational unit of the Artillery Corps.

From my soldiers I learned that in order to be an effective leader, I need to listen to my subordinates and constantly work to improve them and myself. Serving as a platoon commander I made it a practice to have weekly personal conversations with each of my subordinate commanders during which each of us would provide candid and constructive feedback to the other. Thus, I was able to achieve great trust through and use their feedback to improve as a commander. I believe these conversations created a winning team, in which my subordinates flourished. Most of them were promoted to platoon sergeant.

As a platoon commander I was concerned that the training we received fell short of meeting operational requirements on the field. When I attributed this in part to inadequate simulator time during officers’ training, I convinced my superiors to assign me to command the officers’ course in order to make sure that future officers would be qualified to face the challenges they were about to encounter. Moreover, my experience in music, where independent practice was a key to improvement, inspired me to include more independent practice in the training plan, nearly doubling simulator time without overtaxing the instructors. My efforts were acknowledged when I was rewarded the ‘Officers Excellence Award’ by unit commander for my contribution as the officers’ course commander.

Finally, I discovered through my military comrades what I want to do with my life and career. As a commander I had the privilege of working with many amazing people, but I also saw too many cases where people with tremendous talent were blocked from fulfilling their potential due to socio-economic circumstances. This seems to be a particularly serious problem in my country, which was ranked as the fourth most unequal society among OECD countries. I met one soldier who finished high school without taking his final matriculation exams in math because he had to work to support his family. I helped prepare him for the exams, which he completed with excellent grades, and he helped me to understand the challenges so many people face.

Inspired by these soldiers, I began to volunteer for the Movement for the Quality of Governance, an organization boasting 17,000 members that promotes increased moral standards in the public service and politics in my country. Researching market aspects that affect equal opportunities has helped me understand that what my country needs most is the creation of opportunities.

Local startups have seen many successes during the last decade. However, a very large portion of our society is unable to take part of that phenomenon, as many successful startups are sold without creating sustainable jobs in the country. Thus, innovation in my country translates into big wealth for the few most talented but has little effect on the lives of the majority of the middle class.

In the long run I envision myself starting and managing a sustainable, international business in the field of automated transportation. I am passionate about extending economic opportunities to populations who need it most, and I expect the field of automated transportation to have great impact by spreading affordable transportation and creating new job opportunities for workers around the globe and in my country.

In order to lead in an ever-changing world, my business would have to predict and meet global demands, engage in continuous innovation, and incorporate the finest management practices. I need an HBS MBA to improve my expertise in these three areas. As a post-MBA step towards my goal, I intend to lead the efforts towards self-driving vehicles in a global corpora, where I will contribute a multidisciplinary view that merges technological and business knowledge, while I prepare to start my own business in the field.

At HBS I will take advantage of the many opportunities offered such as the ‘FIELD Global Immersion’, where I will be able to study relevant global topics first-hand. I am especially interested in studying the unique transportation and economic needs of emerging markets such as India or Brazil, which would affect the future demand for automated transportation and where automated transportation can serve as a much-needed engine of progress. I have the necessary technological and leadership background to be this kind of leader, and an HBS MBA will bring me one giant step closer to achieving it.

My parents raised me to go for everything I wanted in life – regardless of the obstacles I might face. Forty years ago, despite the forbidding social climate, my mother overcame a vast number of hurdles to become first an MD, and then the first woman in her home town to enter private practice as a specialist physician. She went on to become the founder and president of the Faculty of Consulting Physicians of South Africa. Most importantly, she did all this while maintaining a rich personal life and through mutual support of my father, a successful cardiologist.
Cut from similar cloth, I have always strived to fulfil my potential – in both my professional and personal life – and to be an example to others, perhaps less fortunate than I, that this can be achieved.

After graduating as the top student and completing my first qualification as a Chartered Accountant, I decided to pursue a career in the asset management industry. Applying for a job to work for the Oppenheimer Family Office, I found myself to be the only woman out of 40 applicants who had made it to the final rounds, and ultimately the first woman hired by the Family Office across all the investment teams. Within 2 years, they offered me equity to become their first woman partner.
But I am an anomaly in my field. Most South African funds haven’t a single woman investment manager, and in those that do, women are underrepresented. At meetings and results presentations, I am lucky to be one of 3 or so women amongst 50 men.
A few years ago, I took up this issue with the co-founder of a large South African hedge fund. For the first 12 years of its existence, the hedge fund had only hired white males into its investment team. I put forward the name of an exceptional woman that I had studied with at university. This led to the hedge fund hiring their first female and first black investment team member. It was just one small success, but every journey begins somewhere.

Being a woman in my field, in my country, often means working twice or thrice as hard to prove myself, but the rewards have been great. I’ve learned to delve deep into industry insights, to determine which companies can maintain their competitive advantage and to understand the markets’ ebb and flow. I have led meetings with CEOs and CFOs of some the largest listed companies on the African continent and assisted my team in achieving returns that exceed those of comparable indexes – all while completing my CFA qualification within the top decile globally. Most recently, I’ve been working with an executive coach, to strengthen my leadership skills and overcome my discomfort with of public speaking – an endeavor that already bore fruit when I stood up at a forum in front of 100 other investors and questioned the CFO of a company on dubious expense allocations.

Now I seek my next challenge: disrupting parts of the investment management value chain.
Three years ago, I co-founded a group of businesses with my husband. It includes a hedge-fund operating across four countries that uses algorithms to drive the investment process and which has attracted $400M in less than five years. The second business, aims to disrupt the high trading fees charged by incumbent financial institutions in emerging and frontier markets. My husband is the Group’s CEO, and I have been serving these last years in an advisory capacity.

Post-MBA I plan to return to South Africa to become Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the group. As COO, I will be responsible for overseeing business development, implementing strategy, driving growth and ensuring that we have the appropriate mix of skills. I aim to drive penetration of both businesses further into their existing markets as well as into new emerging and frontier markets. It is in these markets where those who pay the most are the ones who can afford it the least, and where there is ample room for disruption. In targeting the appropriate skills mix, I aim to ensure that the businesses reflect the demographics of the population, across genders and races.
Beforehand, I want to build on the skills that will help me execute my responsibilities at the highest possible level. Speaking to Assaf Polturak, MBA 2016, I learned that Harvard’s case method approach “gives you tools to deal with various situations without having to go through each situation yourself.” It is this approach that will allow me to always reflect on my time at Harvard and apply the lessons learnt to the varying circumstance and challenges I will find in later in life.
With the numerous case studies and readings presented and debated in the Mastering Strategy Execution course, I hope to gain practical tools and knowledge that will assist me when, post-MBA, I am faced with executing the strategies of my family’s businesses. As COO I will need to hire the best talent and think about team composition. I will need to motivate employees, provide feedback and form strong partnerships with people in different markets and with different cultures. Harvard’s array of courses focusing on the soft skills, such as the Leadership and Organizational Behavior course, will assist me in becoming a more effective leader – a vital aspect in driving the companies forward.
I also look forward to joining the Women in Investing (WII) and Family Business Clubs. I especially identify with WII’s overarching goal “to help women break into and succeed in investing.” I hope to contribute from my experience as a woman in buy-side investing and from my approach to investing in Africa. I hope to lead the Women in Investing Summit and promote the constructive clash of ideas that leads to richer dialogue and better investing outcomes. At the Family Business Club, I aim to engage with others who understand the nuances of the challenges faced by a family-run business and look forward to them enriching and challenging my views on the best approach to leading such an enterprise.
As I move forward in my life, to progress in my career and to start my own family, it is my top priority that I continue to excel in all areas, and to be an example to others, especially women, of what can be done.

Harvard Business School

How do Aringo's clients do when they apply to Harvard?

Aringo's admission rate is 42% higher than Harvard's average.

See our admissions
statistics

How can you improve your Harvard MBA Essays?

Aringo's experts can help you present yourself best

Let us take a look at your MBA essays