Harvard Business School Application for MBA – Example Essay
Essay 1.Please describe three different leadership experiences that have been significant for your. (600 words)
The best leadership that I want to point out as a primary one is the leadership without any price and the leadership of pure service. In fact, I personally exercised this sort of leadership in the small island to the northern part of Korean peninsula, xxx. The island, where I was supposed to serve as of May 19xx according to the regulation of Korean government as an alternative to a military service, was a traditional society stuck in the traditional sense of value and ruled by the senior citizen apart from the modernized urban life.
As far as I am concerned, it was a backwater duty for the first time in my life. My original mission in this island in the first place was to cure light diseases or injuries and prevent epidemics in the region. I came to be, however, one of leaders in the community regardless of my intention over time. As a matter of fact, it was a relatively small community where the number of college graduates was nothing but ten personnel and small office was supposed to take care of almost all the affairs happening in the community.
Just because I graduated from the xxx, made a good reason for being classified into a celebrity or considered as some kind of genius. Apart from the medical treatment, I played a vital role of a consultant with regard to a variety of personal problems as well as the community matters in the island. In effect, I was cordially invited to every single event happening in the community such as Korean traditional Thanksgiving Day and collective conference in the village. After 6 months of residence in the island, I came to be one of the best consultants who are supposed to give advice or make comments on a wide range of matters that inhabitants in the island might have. What was the primary reason the residents in the island put me up to the position of a leader accepting most of advice from me almost one hundred percent? To the best of my belief and knowledge, I guess I took a part of a volunteer providing service, not seeking any price for the service at all. In other words, my position and my behavior that required disinterestedness and neutral attitude towards the residents in the island basically enabled me to become a leader of them. As a result, I was able to learn a significant lesson that ‘The real leader should be generous about the members of the team’ and ‘The leader should be impartial.’ from the experience in the island for about a year.
The second lesson that I learned from my own experience in terms of leadership was ‘The leader should be humanitarian enough to embrace the subordinates.’ In particular, I have realized that it is critically necessary for the leader to control the older person who is under his or her supervision. When I work as a medical director in the xxx Korea for x years, I worked with eight fellow workers under my control as a team. Among them, there were three personnel older than I in the light of age including a research fellow even older than me by 15 years. In fact, they were highly qualified experts in their field. No wonder each and every one of them obtained at least master’s degree in the field of medicine or basic science with a high self-esteem although they were relatively late for the promotion compared to my case. After I was appointed as a medical director, I absorbed myself in the studies on their inclination in the first place. As a result, I was able to come to the concrete conclusion that I need to employ a humane interaction and conversation with them rather than a unilateral command.
According to the conclusion, the first policy that I exercised was to hold a regular meeting in the restaurant near the company every Friday night. In the meeting for two or three hours along with dinner, we were able to have a conversation over everything including our privacy, let alone the topic related to the company. In particular, the senior staffs were somewhat skeptical about the outcome of this meeting in the beginning. My recommendation and serious attitude towards the meeting, however, increased the number of members in the meeting on a gradual basis. The existence of the regular meeting served as the main source of maintaining good atmosphere of our team, eliminating every possible conflict within members and compromising our interests in the team. With reference to the complaints and the policy of the company, I made vigorous efforts to the implementation of agreements made in the meeting. Accordingly, the team members were generally favorable to my endeavor and enforcement in most cases.
On the other hand, the president of xxx Korea from overseas did not seem to understand my attitude from time to time. For example, I took myself to the rural area through 10 hours of driving in order to visit the funeral of the father of one of my colleagues and got back to the work even at dawn. As such, I was able to lead the team without any big trouble through the efforts to understand the counterpart on a humanitarian basis. I have realized the third pillar of the leadership through the ordinary philosophy that ‘The leader should take the initiative.’ When I applied for the position of salesperson in xxx Korea February 19xx, most of the personnel in the company including the president were casting doubts on my success as a salesperson. More than that, even my colleagues tried to leave me left out because I used to be a medical doctor, which didn’t fit for the position. The principle that I chose during that time was ‘ Set a good example for others. Try my best twice as hard as others do.’ Based on this principle, I firmly set my working hours from seven to nine on a daily basis. Accordingly, I kept my hands full for 14 hours a day for six months.
In return, I achieved the 210% of accomplishment compared to the original objective and eventually received a promotion as a reward for my achievement. In this regard, I was able to realize the fact that I should work twice as much as others do in order to be a real leader. Unlike the supervisor checking in the office later than the subordinates or the leader just pushing their proteges to work hard, I believe that the virtue of the leader is to set a good example for the subordinates in order to obtain heart-felt trust from the proteges.
2. Recognizing that successful leaders are able to learn from failure, describe a situation in which you failed. (300 words)
“Respect what others did.” This is the conclusion I made after I wrapped up one of the most regrettable strategic meetings that I had in my job career. One of the basic qualities of the leader is to respect the accomplishment of the precedent person and even the achievement of subordinates. I am confident that it will function as a solid basis for the career development of a skillful leader. September 10, 19xx. It was the day when I stepped in the office as a product manager in charge of the marketing of cozaar which was one of the most important products in xxx Korea, the current working place 7 months after I had joined the company. In the first strategic meeting after I became a product manager, I firstly made a comment starting “We should modify the goal in the annual sales from 11 million dollars up to 17 million dollars in the future.” After I made my short presentation, one of district managers suggested in jest saying, “Why don’t you accomplish 6 million dollar worth of return on sale at the extra goal.” Awkward laughter came out in the conference for a while. It was just a joke that he cynically implied a record-breaking sales achievement that I made for 6 months. Yet, it stroked my heart like a stab in my back. I might not get a full credit from the staff because of the makeshift remark without any consideration two months ago.
Since then, I happened to learn three major lessons. First of all, I should not change or ignore the time-honored agreement based on the consultation of the members initiated by the precedent person. In case of modification of the previous plan, it is critically necessary to have a through market research and collection of the opinions of every team member in advance so that I could enhance the cooperation among team members. Secondly, it is essential for the leader to obtain the credibility from the subordinates in order for the project to make it. If I had been an employee, I could not have been able to trust the leader who modified the previous plan without any sufficient data. Finally, every single word that the leader spit out should be more prudent. My remark during that time was not necessarily the effect that we should increase the sales as much as I added up to. My instant remark that we should increase the sales compared to the previous year eventually put me in line because most of employees took it very seriously. Since then, I was more than careful about the official remark and drew a clear line between the joke and serious comment.
3. Describe a situation when your value and belief were challenged. What did you do, and why? (300 words)
In May 15 19xx, I couldn’t leave the harbor of this deserted island, xxx, populated xxxx people and located at the tip of the Korean peninsula. More than anything else, waiving hands and tears of almost one hundred local people were the source of dragging my feet. I could have been the last time I saw them in person. When I was given a humble certificate of achievement in my hand made by pupil’s small hands in local primary school, I was able to realize the ontological value that I should cherish in my heart for the rest of my life. In addition, I could catch a glimpse of the way my life should pursue in the long term. This value and belief was totally different from the past life in which symbolized as the comfort and wealth. In this context, I am confident that the value and belief will serve as a great momentum for the rest of my life. The reason why I went to xxx in April 19xx is due to the Korean government’s regulation, which led me to finish the military service as a doctor in underdeveloped island. I arrived in this island accepting the backwater duty like other military doctors with open-minded. Yet, xxx was unbelievably an area equipped with no medical care in the perspective of those who were accustomed to the urban life. In small makeshift medical facility where I should offer medical service to local people with an assistant nurse, there was no surgical equipment anywhere in the hospital. All I got for the sick was aspirin and simple digestion pill.
Local people’s concern for the medical treatment was close to the level of self-abandonment. For instance, when having stomachache, their best medical care alternative was to take a simple digestion pill or to lie on the floor without eating. On top of that, when the children had slight injury, they were asked to stop bleeding by applying pressure on the wounded part with a cloth. In most cases, most of senior citizens that had not received any preventive medical care at all were suffering from the symptoms such as degenerative arthritis, repetitive gastritis, and hypertension. Nevertheless, they had no choice but to accept the reality like their fate without any doubt. What they needed during that time was not a grand operation of modern hospital and even expensive medicine but the medicines such as anti-hypertensive drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and insulin that could be easily bought in the urban area. They could easily relieve the pain with simple medication. As a matter of fact, they could not afford to cover the medical cost due to low income. Inevitably, they tend to accept the diseases as their fate. It serves as a big burden for them to purchase the drug on their own other than the basic medicine such as aspirin provided by the government free of charge. Furthermore, it was a bigger burden for the aged without any income to buy the medicines in case of the diabetes or dislocation of joint. In two months in the island, the first effort I made was to persuade the pharmaceutical companies and charity organizations to provide medical equipment and medicines necessary for the people in the island on a complementary basis by sending letters.
Therefore, I was able to accumulate the available drugs provided without any cost. For example, I received the anti-hypertensive drug from xxx pharmaceutical company as much amount as the people in the island could utilize for about a year. This kind of efforts that I initiated might relieve the pain of disease to some degree. All the same, it was not enough to liberate them from the disease in an ultimate sense. As a result, I realized that we should develop the medicine to terminate the disease and produce effective drugs substantially in order for everyone to get benefits in terms of medical care. Besides, I want to dedicate myself to the improvement on the public health system in order those who are financially inviable to get medical support whenever they want. This is one of my objectives that I would like to accomplish as long as I am involved in the pharmaceutical company. I still make dear the certificate of achievement made by pupil’s small hands in the local primary school in xxx.
Although it is made of rugged wood, it reminds me of the best memory for one year and two months when I spent in the island. Sometimes, it makes me feel proud of myself in that I dedicated myself to the honorable service such as medical treatment and operation. I will never and ever forget the royal summon that I felt from the bottom of my heart when I arrive in the island after xx hours of sailing in the rough sea in order to make a surgery of the finger which cut in half. When I followed a little girl who called me for her mother who passed out at dawn in the nippy winter as cold as 10 degree centigrade below zero, I felt the same fate deep inside of my heart, as well. The experience in the island, xxx, serves as the momentum for my lifetime goal – to contribute to the harmonious society as a doctor, researcher in medicine, and the leader of public health and pharmaceutical field in the long term. Now that I look upon the experience in xxx as the most valuable career in my whole life, I will keep addressing this experience to my next generation over and over again in the rest of my life.
4.Describe your three most substantial accomplishments and explain why you view them as such. (600 words)
My first accomplishment was the establishment of 129 Emergency Calling System on a full scale when I worked for the xxx. At first, the emergency center had nothing but the name when I was transferred from xxx the late May 19xx. Most of citizens were not aware of the existence of the center. In addition, the rate of utilization was nothing but 10 cases a day. During two years since 19xx, I made several attempts-to publicize the center in the local newspaper, make advertisements to the public, publish brochures, and visit the nursing home-in order to establish the solid foundation for this center. As a result, the rate of utilization rose up to 200 cases a day including medical consultation in the late of 19xx. In return for my efforts, I was granted the certificate of achievement from xxx Headquarters in 19xx.
The decision to make this center flourished was primarily derived from the assessment over the poor condition of local medical attention. As a matter of fact, there are few systems efficient for the emergency and relatively small scale of medical benefit in the local area. For example, I have been able to witness the lack of emergent treatment led to the aggravation of the disease or even to a death several times since I worked for the xxx. Among them, I cannot forget the case of a farmer who died of excessive bleeding due to late arrival of medical staff. As a matter of fact, the people around the farmer didn’t know what to do when the emergency came up. The farmer could have survived if one of his acquaintances had known the number of 129 Emergency Calling System, that is to say, 129.
Ever since, I realized from the bottom of my heart the need for the PR of 129 Emergency Calling System to the public on a large scale. My efforts to the PR and medical consultation worked so well that I could be welcomed and supported by the community. I believe that it is worthwhile to save people’s lives with the help of every single effort that I made. My second accomplishment is surely the Ph.D. dissertation approved in September 19xx. On top of that, I am supposed to obtain the Ph.D. degree in xxx in February 20xx. Although this Ph.D. degree is my personal accomplishment, it is closely related to my lifetime goal – to contribute to the harmonious society as a doctor, researcher in medicine, and the leader of public health and pharmaceutical field in the long term.
The reason for studying pharmacology for six years and obtaining a Ph.D. degree is to dedicate myself to the reform of Korean phamaceutical industry in order to contribute to the majority of the community. Based on the firm conviction that the studies on pharmacology is critically necessary to achieve my goal, I have so far kept on the studies along with the work leaving the award ceremony of Ph.D. degree behind. With this Ph.D. degree, I am now qualified for an expert in the pharmaceutical field. If I add up the advanced knowledge and skill on business management and the leadership that I will learn from Harvard Business School, it is certain that I will be able to become one of the greatest managers in the pharmaceutical field in Korea. More specifically, the Ph.D. degree will be a great asset in achieving my goal- to create the cure-all, make a mass-production of drugs with good quality, provide medical attention for the financially inviable, and improve the public health system. In this context, the Ph.D. degree is one of the most important accomplishments that I have made up to now.
My third accomplishment lies in the sales achievement and various experiences for about six months. The experience enabled me to confirm the potential of being a capable manager in a pharmaceutical company in the future. In addition, I inspired the product team members of the company, addressing”Just do it.”in order to solidify their confidence.
When the article covering my story was introduced in the title of ‘xxx’ in xxx,19xx, most of my acquaintances including my relatives and friends of mine were casting doubts on my decision with cynical voices. They didn’t seem to understand my decision to go for a salesperson instead of being a medical director of pharmaceutical company or a professor in medical school. As a matter of fact, I was able to understand their doubts and concerns because I myself was afraid of my adventure more than anyone else. I, however, accomplished the return on sales as much as 210% of sales objective only after I had been involved in sales with local hospitals for about six months.
As a result, I was appointed as a product manager in cozaar, an anti-hypertensive drug which came as the most important product of xxx Korea. It was the time when I was confident that my challenge will be carried out in the future. This experience, I certify, was more valuable accomplishment than the admission to medical school in xxx and the license of medical doctor as well as the Ph.D degree that I will be conferred in February, 20xx. That’s because I confirmed the chance of success in terms of my career development in the challenge that I took loyal pains during my life.
5. What are your career aspirations and why? How will you get there?
Upon graduation from Medical School in 19xx, I have consistently served in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 10 years on a continual basis, 3 years of military service since 19xx as a doctoral officer excluded. As soon as I graduated from the Medical School, I entered the course of Clinical Pharmacology in the Department of Medicine in the graduate school. After that, I served in the military as an officer in order to complete the Master’s degree and review medical practices. When I made it into the Ph.D. program, I was able to get a job in a pharmaceutical company. I started my first job career as the manager in the Clinical Research Team, xxx pharmaceutical Co. in Korea. In fact, I was disappointed with the obsolete management system of Korean pharmaceutical companies and the passive attitude toward the development of brand-new medicine. As a result, I decided to transfer myself to the local subsidiary of overseas pharmaceutical company called xxx Korea in November 1996.
Ever since, I have worked as a medical director for the field of drug development for about 2 years. After that, I applied for the xxx Korea, the current work, and got a job as a sales representative in February 19xx. Only 6 months later, I was able to get promoted to a product manager in recognition of the outcome of sales. The primary reason why I chose the sales and marketing department in xxx Korea is based on the fact that I came to the conclusion that obsolete and dogmatic management of Korean pharmaceutical companies and hospitals would undermine the development of medical industry. As far as my personal experience goes, the owners of Korean pharmaceutical companies are by no means specialists in this field. On top of that, most of them didn’t seem to have a rational and efficient management skill. In particular, the lack of clinical research and backwardness of marketing management skill is the main obstacles that Korean pharmaceutical companies should tackle in the long term.
Secondly, I have so far recognized the limitation of drug development in domestic pharmaceutical companies as well as overseas pharmaceutical companies located in Korea. Third, I wanted to experience the essence of sales and marketing in person as a sales representative in xxx Korea in order to strengthen the basis for the business management. Fourth, I was deeply moved by the ethical sales practice of xxx Korea that had been recognized as one of the most prestigious companies. Finally, I wanted to acquire the custom-oriented mind like ‘Customer is the basis for sales and marketing’. As a matter of fact, xxx, the president of xxx Korea, was sort of skeptical about my career since I had been basically involved in the drug development for 3 years. None the less, I was able to become a product manager as a medical doctor for the first time in Korea by eliminating every single doubt. Personally, I believe the success in life lies in a series of ordeal from bottom to top. In other words, success stems from the process from the salesperson to the C.E.O of the company. Even though I may learn the advanced management skill of pharmaceutical company through on the job training as product manager in xxx Korea, it is certain that I will be able to obtain the necessary capability of manager in pharmaceutical company through systematic approach and studies in the MBA program.
Like Korean saying “Even the finest building built on the sand is bound to collapse in no time”, I believe the MBA program in the U.S.A will provide me with a solid basis to grow up as a business manager in the future. To the best of belief and knowledge, now is the best time for me to obtain MBA degree in the light of my life goal now that I have so far experienced the field of research as well as sales, not to mention my career. The knowledge of medicine, basic science, and drug development as well as the understanding of pharmaceutical industries will serve as great asset in completing the MBA program at HBS. I would like to devote myself to the reform of Korean pharmaceutical industry with the advanced knowledge and skill on business management and the leadership that I will learn from your business school.