How to approach the ISB essay for Class of 2021?

ISB has two essay topics for the 2021 admissions. These essay topics are as follows:

  1. Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess which significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)

  2. What are your short term and long-term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals? (400 words max)

Apart from these 2 essays, there is one re-applicant essay that is to be written by candidates who are reapplying to ISB.

Let's deep dive!


ISB Essay 1: Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess which significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)

Before you start answering this question, or rather any question that is being asked, always question – what does the school want from you in this question and why they are asking it as part of their admissions? They are asking this question because they want to understand from you as to how you will bring in a uniqueness to the class – and in what way?

So this quality of yours that the school wants to know about – how do you select? This really has to be a quality that is - MEAGRE!


· M – Meaningful for a leader

· R – Related to “YOU” – something that you breathe of!

· E – Exemplifiable though your work/life etc.

· G – Globally applicable irrespective of your personal or professional examples

· A – Association that the Adcom can build instantly with you

· E – Exclusive to you! Not the quality but the entwined situations, tasks and results!


In addition, then goes without saying that your 2-3 solid examples should be written out in a Situation, Task and Result format. What I would suggest is that one should add learning as well if applicable. It is always a good idea to give a mix of the human side of you! Who you really are – so the best way to show your quality is not to SAY but to SHOW through 2 professional and 1 personal example. Instances of your recognized individual characteristics displayed at work or life in general will help connect them with how you will use these characteristics during and post ISB.

Try not to fall into entrapment of demonstrating how "dedicated" or "persevering" you are. These are basic factors – you should possess in the event that you are to make it to ISB and endure the thorough year once you secure an admission.


Remember, that the Essay 1 with Essay 2 overall as a story should add up, and the effort you put in, in your communication should add up.

400 words is a lot to say and intelligent way to divide it up is here.

* 50-60 words – Introduction

* 280 - 300 words – 2 -3 examples

* 50 - 60 words – Conclusion


ISB Essay 2: What are your short term and long-term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals? (400 words max)

Two question asked and two questions should be answered here. This is one of the most consistently found question in the ISB application. In fact, this is one of the most important areas to delve into for pursuing an MBA. What do you want to achieve? An MBA is an investment of time, effort, and cost and unless you are very clear about your specific goals its simply not going to help you make the cut.


Remember, do not get lost in the nitty gritty of your plans of future, rather it should be crisp and well thought through. Unlike many top B-schools, ISB provides placement support, hence it become all the more important for them to be able to see whether you are ready as a candidate half way through your course or not – and this you can impress upon only with your clarity of thought!

There are four scenarios that one really faces:

  1. Function and industry change – the most difficult to get through. A difficult story to swallow and might get through Adcoms in very special cases. Factors such as years of experience, field of work etc. matter a lot!

  2. Function change in same industry – A safer bet to ask for yet I’d say that the function change you are asking for should be something you have been exposed to n some way of the other. It could be moving from Operational to strategic roles as well.

  3. Industry change with same function – Could work surely, but the reasoning has to be strong. One other way to look at this is how or why you want to make the change

  4. Same function in the same industry – why do you need an MBA then? Well, it could be because you aren’t able to grow and need a holistic exposure to various facets of business. Here you have to elaborate your gaps and your assessment of why you aren’t able to grow or why you need an MBA

In whatever story you craft, focus on transferable skills. Write about what all you have done and what you realize are your gaps to reach your short-term goal and then marry it with what ISB can help in and how ISB can help. A significant piece of your essay ought to likewise go into setting up the quality, context, and accomplishments of your experience. On the off chance that you have attempted any significant industry or capacity shifts, refer to what you realized at each stage, close by showing that you accomplished smooth transitions. Remember, don’t write things ISB already knows! Distinguished faculty, diverse class etc. are more to be used in conclusion rather than as strong reasons. As I say, any B-School including ISB has to offer a buffet, what dishes you choose is your prerogative, but then, why you choose them and how they help you reach your goal is what you should focus on. Don’t forget to mention how you plan to give back to the school! Out of class learning is equally important and a balance of both in-class and out of class learning is what is required to be showcased. For a long-term goal, remember, the school knows that times changes and so does your career path. What they want to see is do you have a natural progression that you believe you have a clear vision of? Stay away from mentioning positions like “I want to be a CXO” etc., rather focus on direction you want to take. If you think your plan is way too difficult to get through, talk about a plan B. Schools love to see a business mindset where students have thought through well and are taking calculated risks.

Remember not to go over the edge with 'why ISB'. The essay is more about you and how ISB is a perfect decision in your plan of things. Keep it short, sweet and flowy!


ISB PGP Re-applicant Essay Analysis

Essay topic – Please use this space to explain significant improvements in your profile since your last application to the ISB PGP.

ISB requires candidates to submit a re-applicant essay if one applied in the previous years, sketching and detailing the improvements in the profile. This is a great opportunity to impress the Ad-com about your introspection and subsequent efforts that you made, to upskill yourself. Just to add, if you applied through YLP in earlier years, you need not submit the reapplicant essay.

Generally, the time gap also determines your responses. In case you applied in R1 last year and again applying in R1 this year, the expectation is that, you lay out your initiatives for a 1-year period. In case you applied in R2 last time and applying in R1 this time, well, you had about 8 months but did you use this time to take steps to move forward in your professional goals – through efforts put in for professional initiatives and self-learning opportunities?


Another area to look through – did you take up a rejection analysis – talk to alumni and industry experts on what could have gone wrong? Did you improve your score during this duration? Were you willing to go above and beyond to take the GMAT/GRE again by pushing yourself? No worries in case you scored the same again – it’s the intent that matters as well. One needs to detail out work related opportunities that you grabbed, the new projects you took up, any promotions or additional roles that you got involved in! Do include the experiences that helped you polish your core and soft skills with these new opportunities.


A sum total of your efforts should showcase/present you as a refined version and nearer to your goal. In case your goal changed, you will need to substantiate it with proper validations and why it is a more rational plan.

If you think you need help in this journey, reach out to us at victaprep@gmail.com! VictaPrep is an education consulting firm and our motto is guiding applicants with personized solutions. It is a team of professionals, who come from a humble background, and yet have successfully taken the same journey as you aspire today!