Interested in spending a year benefitting from a business education at London Business School and Columbia Business School The schools’ joint Global EMBA program may be for you. This article offers general guidance for crafting your Columbia LBS Global EMBA essays and personal statement. A full essay/personal statement set from a past applicant is available in the second half off this article. Explore additional MBA essay examples and topic analyses available on mbaSTORY.builders for a comprehensive understanding.

I Overview

Columbia Business School and London Business School are looking to fill its joint Global EMBA class with seasoned professionals who bring diversity to the classroom in terms of their cultural background, professional strengths and weaknesses, job function, and industry. A stand-out story-based resume (the backbone of any application), and engaging essays will help you stand out from the pool of applicants.

 

II Analysis Columbia LBS Global EMBA Essays

Essay 1 Why do you wish to participate in the EMBA-Global programme? What do you hope to experience and how will participation in this programme help you to achieve your objectives? (maximum 500 words)

Essay 1 is a classic Career Goals/Why MBA? essay. There are five main components to a Career Goals/Why EMBA? essay:

  • The Past: Personal and professional experience that have brought you to this moment in your life and have planted the seed for your future ambitions.
  • The Present: Why do you want an EMBA at this point in your personal life and professional career?
  • The Future: What are your short and long-term goals/vision and how will you leverage your experience as a student, your EMBA degree and the alumni network to achieve those?
  • Why an MBA?: Why an EMBA and not another kind of degree or why not forego a degree altogether in favor of just working and networking your way towards your goals?
  • Why the Columbia LBS Global EMBA?: Why do you want an EMBA from this school in particular?

What I like about breaking down the essay into these five components is that it makes it easy to begin answering them one by one. I think of each answer as a modular Lego block. Once you have your blocks, try distributing your answers into paragraphs. You can open the first paragraph with The Past, but you could also place The Past in the middle of your essay.

Here is an example of how you might leverage the five questions to create your own, unique outline. You could lead with your short-term goal to transition from consulting into non-profit strategy (The Future). Then you might give us some of the backstory: What you’ve done in the past (work or personal experiences) and how that led you to be extremely passionate about the non-profit world (The Past). Next you might talk about how an EMBA from Columbia and LBS will enrich you on a personal and professional level such that you’ll be uniquely prepared to take on future challenges (Why an EMBA?). Finally you might circle back to your future vision and paint a picture of where you hope to be in 5 years’ time (The Future).

In this essay you need to discuss your professional goals and very briefly contextualize why those goals are realistic for you within the context of your career progression to date. You then need to aboard how you will leverage and engage with the resources within the Global EMBA Program in order to pursue and reach your goals. You can do that by showing the admissions committee that you understand the school’s offering and have given thought to how you will engage with the Global EMBA community and all the schools have to offer. Don’t just rattle off a few course offerings, but look for deep connections between your goals and interests and the activities you plan to participate in. If you’re a bit stumped, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left list resources at Columbia and LBS that will benefit you. On the right list resources at Columbia and LBS that you can impact upon and benefit through your knowledge, experience or interests. Basically you’re breaking things down into take and give relationships. Note: With part-time EMBA programs like the Global EMBA, it’s more important to highlight what you will get because (due to scheduling) it is often hard for students to give as much to the community as full-time students. Still, if you can think of something that you would contribute, do mention it.

III Example Columbia LBS Global EMBA Essay 1

Essay 1 Why do you wish to participate in the EMBA-Global programme? What do you hope to experience and how will participation in this programme help you to achieve your objectives? (maximum 500 words)

Since 20XX I have worked alongside my father and the professional staff at Drake International, a diversified conglomerate with a logistics business, luxury hotels, and longstanding Flight Kitchens supplying food and beverage to airlines throughout India. Doing business in India requires a mix of strong analytical skills, general business acumen, and a keen sense of the priorities and pain points of one’s interlocutor. This final skill is particularly relevant within Indian business culture which INSEAD professor, Erin Meyer, describes as a high context, relationship-based work environment in her book, The Culture Map.

Relationship building has been critical to the achievements I’m most proud of. That includes helping negotiate terms as our Flight Kitchen business, founded by my grandfather in 1950, was impacted by airport privatization in 20XX and then by more exigent landlords in 20XX. I’m now helping to strategize a new location and facilities to coincide with the new Delhi airport construction earmarked for 20XX. Being cognizant of environmental issues has also been a top priority of mine. That made spearheading Drake International’s entrée into renewable energy with the establishment of a 110-acre windfarm in Kerala State and a partnership with the French firm Le Vent windfarm a career highlight. The energy output exceeds the needs of both our flight kitchen and hotel businesses allowing us to sell the excess back to the state. Beyond a positive internal rate of return, the venture has helped bolster our brand – for instance with guests enjoying carbon neutral stays in our hotels.

Since moving to New York in 20XX, I’ve managed a variety of projects for Drake while also participating in the board of my husband’s real estate company, and running Foresight, a non-profit I founded in 20XX which redirects food and necessities that might otherwise go to waste into the hands of Indian NGOs such as Mother Teresa’s, The Missionaries of Charity.

My goal in pursuing the Global EMBA Program with London Business School and Columbia University is grow my network and to formalize the business skills that I’ve acquired until now through trial and error – all this with a view to transitioning, post-EMBA, to a full-time focus on entrepreneurship. I’m currently working on a business plan for KidsRead, a unique children’s book and educational puzzle box which differentiates itself from competitors in that a) it can easily be gifted; b) it is not a uniquely subscription-based revenue model though there is a subscription option; and c) boxes are visually appealing and curated to meet the needs of a range of children ages 2 to 12.

Data-driven marketing is the lifeblood of companies like KidsRead. That’s why participating in a LBS Global Business Assignment in San Francisco would be an opportunity to see how cutting-edge companies are integrating big data into their organizations – from onboarding customers through effective online marketing (display and affiliate campaigns) to assessing and increasing customer lifetime value. In the classroom, I’ll benefit from the foundational core curriculum as well as elective courses such as Customer Centric Innovation Entrepreneurial Finance, Global Entrepreneurship, and Personal Leadership and Success.

Growing up in a family of businesspeople, I know that the perennial challenge of any entrepreneur is the lack of constructive feedback in her day-to-day work. That makes sense since not many employees are keen to elucidate their boss’s everyday foibles or personal shortcomings. As someone with no shortage of either, I feel that the Global EMBA Program’s Executive Leadership half-course in conjunction with Leadership and Organizational Change will be an opportunity for me to grow both personally and from a strategic leadership perspective.

I’m convinced that my desire to both learn from and benefit the Global EMBA community will find a home in the LBS and Columbia classrooms. My good friend, Pavel Malhortra (Global EMBA ’XX) emphasized how a central part of his Global EMBA experience has been the different insights that classmates – seasoned professionals from a variety of functional roles and industries – bring to bear on the same business dilemma or case study. I can only hope to lend my own perspectives to this chorus of voices.

III Example Columbia LBS Global EMBA Essay 2

Essay 2 Please describe a professional situation where you faced a particular challenge. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience about your own strengths and personal development needs? (maximum 500 words)

As a trained lawyer I wasn’t put off by the contract’s legal jargon or length. After reading all 15 pages I summed it up in simple terms, “It says that the Nichols Group must negotiate with us but they’re not obligated to strike a deal.” Over FaceTime my father, the founder and president of Drake International, looked exasperated.

This was August of 2021 and the Nichols Group, which had just taken over the Mumbai Airport, now controlled the lease for Drake’s Flight Kitchen business which supplied in-flight food to airlines. After sending us a letter demanding top dollar for a lease extension the Nichols Group had refused to negotiate further. Any other business owner would have looked for a different landlord, but that wasn’t an option for us – our Flight Kitchen business had been financially weakened by COVID and even if we had found a new location, building out new facilities would take months. No…to stay in business we needed this lease renewed – in particular because it granted all-important access to the airport tarmac. Without access Drake Flight Kitchen couldn’t deliver in-flight meals to the airlines we’d been serving since 1950.

Since Nichols Group wouldn’t negotiate my father suggested reaching out to Mr. Kareem Abukha, the former Solicitor General of India. “He lives in New York now. You can go meet with him.” The hope was that Mr. Abukha, who had ties to senior leadership at the Nichols Group, might convince them to come to the table.

I sat with Mr. Abukha in his library, drinking tea. “It’s all legal.” he commented, referring to the contract. “Commercial property values are on the rise. I don’t think Nichols is going to talk with you. You ought to prepare for the inevitable. I know that’s not what you want to hear.” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hear it, it was that I couldn’t abide it.

I averted my eyes, taking a moment to think. “The wonderful thing about being a woman”, I thought to myself, “is in not being hampered by false pride.” “What would father or Cousin Nitin do in this situation?” I wondered. “Well, if you change your mind and feel you can intervene….” That’s how they would have left things, as if it were of no personal consequence to them. I was lucky. No societal norm kept me from being honest and vulnerable.

“Mr. Abukha, I know you can persuade Nichols and you just have to. Flight Kitchen has 50% market share in Mumbai with over 3.000 employees on its payroll. That’s 4,500 families. It’s not a soulless revenue generating machine but a living, breathing institution that has its place in the social fabric.” I wasn’t begging, but I didn’t hesitate to lay all my cards on the table.

Mr. Abukha’s face softened and pointing to an alter in the corner he said, “We should say a prayer to my  guiding light (guru), Mother Teresa. If she wants me to help you, she will cause it to be.” I was shocked by the pure coincidence. In 2015 I had launched a charitable initiative making use of leftover food from our Flight Kitchens to make significant and regular donations to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Learning this, Mr. Abukha’s demeanor changed. “I want to help you.” And he did. By October of 2021 he had brokered talks. We’re now on the cusp of signing deal with Nichols Group.

This experience reinforced the confidence I have in my ability to handle a difficult situation in an authentic way. Persuading Mr. Abukha to advocate for Drake helped us build lasting relationships, making my work even more meaningful. To date, whether in a business capacity or in my role as a parent, I’ve found that when I must rise to the occasion, I do. Will I continue in that vein as I face greater challenges as a founder and CEO (rather than as a senior member of a much larger organization like Drake)? This remains a point of interrogation and potential fallibility. As someone who has developed my leadership toolkit through trial and error, I feel that a formal business and leadership education would benefit me immensely. It will help me gain confidence in myself and evoke greater trust from others.

III Example Columbia LBS Global EMBA Personal Statement

Personal statement: Please tell us about yourself and your background. How do you embody the characteristics of a future global leader? The objective of this statement is to get a sense who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally. (maximum 500 words)

I looked around for the source of the nuisance – a whiff of smoke a moment earlier – but saw nothing. Suddenly the man I’d been chatting with reached over my shoulder, snatched a cocktail off the bar, and doused me in it.

His name was Anil, and I couldn’t help but notice his mix of chivalry and pragmatism – the latter a must when you’re a lady whose sari has caught fire. At the time I was 29, which is too old, in polite Indian society, to be on the wrong end of a calamitous long-term relationship – one that had not ended in the marriage I hoped for, the marriage that everyone deemed impossible ab initio.

He had been from a traditional family where a woman’s role was strictly defined and immutable; the onus falling on her to wriggle herself into its confines. I’d grown up as the oldest of two girls and my father’s de facto son, groomed, from a young age, to take over the family business. I had opinions (too many to count), a law degree, and a career. If I could achieve those things, why couldn’t I also be wife to the man I loved?

For eight years, I poured all my physical energy and emotional resources into paving the way for marriage, the success of which hinged entirely on the caprices of his family, sometimes feigning acceptance of me, but most often not. Desperate, I’d consulted a fortune teller who counseled that when we truly desire something we should sacrifice for it. I’d taken to sleeping on the floor next to my bed as a sort of offering. In less dramatic ways too, I’d demonstrated my sincerity – curtailing socializing outside the home and even giving away the less-than-demure portion of my wardrobe. All in vain.

When it was finally over, I sent myself an email which read, this is the worst day of my life. It wasn’t that he’d committed to an arranged marriage, it was that he’d done it so easily, without so much as a call to break the news.

All along I’d been a big fan of The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo with its often-quoted line, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Looking back, what I had perhaps wanted was the challenge of the impossible as a sort of proving ground where I could test my capacity for commitment and perseverance. In doing so, I was able to substantiate the narrative my family, especially my father, had always maintained, that I could do anything and be anything I wanted. It wouldn’t be unfair to qualify that decade-long pursuit to an entrepreneurial endeavor, one that required vision (however unrealistic), creativity, and, above all, tenacity.

I’ve brought this ‘eye of the tiger’ disposition forward with me into my professional, charitable, and family commitments – tempering it with the insight that strife does not make an undertaking inherently worthwhile. It’s precisely the ease of my relationship with my now husband (and sometimes firefighter) that I most cherish, although initially it caught me off guard. With experience and maturity, I see how in every aspect of my life, there is always a path of least resistance possible. This is especially true when communicating and collaborating with others. Sometimes that path of least resistance requires me to be straightforward and unabashed while other times it means allowing a person to draw their own conclusions, on their own terms, and in their own time – as my entourage surely did in my case.

I believe that good leadership can take many forms with certain key ingredients making a person more likely to succeed in the role. To name a few: Humility, self-awareness, a desire to use one’s leadership platform to advance collective goals (not elevate one’s own standing). These aren’t the product of formal credentials, but of disposition – itself the result of experience. I believe that my own experiences and my desire to be a future global leader make me a good candidate for the job.

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