Final Draft – HBS Essay Introduce Yourself
Here you’ll find one former client’s HBS essay. This client had recently founded his own start-up in the wine industry and used wine analogies to structure the essay. At 700 words long, this essay is on the shorter end of the spectrum. Typically HBS essays range from 700-1100 words. This former client has consented to the publication of his/her MBA application material.
INSEAD MBA Job Description #1:
It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.
In the world of wine, exceptional vintages don’t occur all that often, but when they do, winemakers are given an incredible opportunity to make magic. Through determination and hard graft, 2014 has proven to be a ‘vintage year’ for me – I left my role at INVESTMENT BANK to turn my business plan and my passion for wine into a live venture. As STARTUP’s founder, I launched an app and grew its user base to over 4,000 active users. In my entrepreneurial journey of ups and downs, I have cultivated opportunities and evolved professionally and personally in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
Even in exceptional vintages, winemakers face obstacles – contamination, excessive yields, phylloxera – which have the potential to affect the quality of their final product and the sustainability of their business. For me, the biggest challenge as a first time entrepreneur has been losing the safety net of a collaborative, process-driven, and hierarchical environment. At INVESTMENT BANK, I thrived as part of a team of twenty colleagues; the emphasis on teamwork fostered a deep sense of belonging and enabled me to build strong communication skills. Open door policies allowed me to freely access guidance from superiors. When I left INVESTMENT BANK to focus on my start-up, that support network vanished and I was accelerated into a leadership position with greater levels of autonomy and accountability. As I built STARTUP’s team of four people, I became acutely aware that I was no longer on the receiving end of management validation and mentorship. The onus and accountability of decision-making is now entirely on me as I make dozens of autonomous judgments every day.
It is how the winemaker responds to challenges that differentiates the average from the extraordinary. In a similar vein, I’ve learnt to deal with my new-found responsibility and leadership role by becoming more resourceful and introspective, and by building my own network of support, resources and processes. I’ve learnt the value of self- reflection and how it empowers me to be a smarter leader; being mindful and self-aware has helped me to understand what I have yet to learn and how to prioritize in order to run the business more successfully. For example, I have integrated analytics as a fundamental part of my regular evaluation exercise – these measurable metrics paint a compelling picture about which features of the app are, and are not, important to users, enabling me to pivot accordingly. Furthermore, I’ve learnt to tackle unfamiliar problems by breaking them down into approachable goals, engaging in training and consulting mentors – thereby equipping myself with the knowledge and confidence to make the right decisions. Realizing that many entrepreneurs experience a similar sense of isolation when starting a business, I’ve established a network of ten female entrepreneurs as a forum from which to share stories of ubiquitous business challenges.
Product distribution is a widespread industry challenge. Winemakers have limited access to consumers as power is almost entirely in the hands of distributors, while consumers lack the choice and information to make balanced decisions about wine. Although I have had some success in guiding consumers’ purchase decisions through my start-up, my long-term ambition is to bridge the gap between winemakers and consumers by building a global education platform for social and collaborative consumption of wine. Analyzing successful and failed innovation strategies through the HBS case method, as well as seeing decision-making through the lens of inspiring leaders, would help me tackle an industry where the direct-to-consumer market is still nascent. To best position myself for success in my future venture, I hope to secure a post-MBA role in marketing at a leading corporation in the beverage industry. Experience in an organisation such as Diageo or E&J Gallo will enable me to gain a deeper insight into the industry and help me understand what drives consumers to buy premium products.
My start-up experience has been scintillating and has exposed me to new avenues of thought; but to achieve the change I want to see in the wine industry, I will need the knowledge, experience and network that only a Harvard MBA can provide. I believe my unique passions, goals and experiences position me to impact – and learn from – my peers at Harvard, and contribute to what will hopefully be a vintage year.