99 BOOK - MBA & EMBA Application Guide: Recommendations

1. MBA & EMBA Recommendation Book Overview.
2. Book Excerpt - Examples of MBA & EMBA Recommendations and Talking Points.
   MBA Recommendation Example from section 4.5
   MBA Recommendation Example from section 4.6
   Recommender Talking Points Example from section 2.10

3. Book Review Offer.
4. Download Recommendation Brainstorming Grid.
5. Updated List of MBA & EMBA Recommendation Questions.

1. MBA & EMBA Recommendation Book Overview

Thanks for stopping by. I assume you stumbled upon this page while googling something like "MBA or EMBA Examples". You're probably in the midst of applying to a few programs. Maybe you've approached a recommender who has either asked you to write the recommendation yourself (he'll look it over and submit it) or to provide him with some material (notes, ideas, an outline...what I call "talking points").

If that's the case, you might be interested in my book, MBA & EMBA APPLICATION GUIDE: Recommendations - Write Your Own Professional Letter of Recommendation with 25+ Examples It's available for purchase on this website as a downloadable PDF or you buy a printed version from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or get the ePUB version from Kobo Books. If you're located outside North America, you can purchase the downloadable PDF here or check your country's Amazon or Kobo website for the book.

MBA & EMBA APPLICATION GUIDE: Recommendations - Write Your Own Professional Letter of Recommendation with 25+ Examples is a carefully-crafted, 100+ page book written by Leah Derus, a seasoned admissions consultant and MIT Sloan MBA. It contains 25+ real recommendation examples that you can draw on PLUS guidance on the entire recommendation creation process.

This book was written for the many MBA and EMBA applicants (and more generally graduate school applicants, scholarship or fellowship applicants, young and mid-career professionals, etc.) whose recommenders ask them to either write their own recommendation or create a recommendation outline (a.k.a. talking points).

This guide will help you identify and manage your recommenders and give you a simple method for structuring and generating content for your recommendation. It also contains over 25 professional recommendations from successful applicants to elite MBA and EMBA programs as well as examples of recommendation outlines (a.k.a. talking points).

Recommendation questions from the following programs are also included: Berkeley Haas MBA, Chicago Booth MBA, Columbia MBA, Cornell Johnson MBA, University of Virginia Darden MBA, Dartmouth Tuck MBA, Duke Fuqua MBA, Harvard Business School MBA, INSEAD MBA, Kellogg MBA, London Business School MBA, Michigan Ross MBA, MIT Sloan MBA, NYU Stern MBA, Stanford MBA, UCLA Anderson MBA, Wharton MBA, Yale MBA, Chicago Booth EMBA, INSEAD EMBA, Kellogg EMBA, MIT Sloan EMBA & Sloan Fellows, Stanford MSx, and Wharton EMBA.

From the author, Leah Derus

After earning my MBA at MIT Sloan, I joined a well-known MBA admissions consulting firm but soon took issue with their business model: lots of ‘advice’ but none of the practical, time-intensive help clients really needed. I decided to chart my own course, and over the next decade worked intensively and successfully with a smaller client base doing high-touch-point MBA and EMBA admissions consulting through resumeSTORY.builders. The result has been a 98% admit rate, year after year at business schools such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT Sloan, and Wharton.

My approach gave me the latitude to hone my storytelling craft. Today I apply it to the entire MBA or EMBA application process - from recommendation writing (in this book) and essay and resume writing (in other books in the MBA & EMBA APPLICATION GUIDE Series).

Thank you for your interest in my work! Let’s connect on LinkedIn or at resumeSTORY.builders/books where you'll find free resources.

2. Book Excerpt. Examples of MBA & EMBA Recommendations and Talking Points.

MBA Recommendation Example from section 4.5

JOANNA - MBA, Product Manager at Amazon - STRENGTHS: takes initiative, product strategist, self-confident; WEAKNESS: frustrates easily

SHORT ANSWER: Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, their role in your organization

Since September YEAR, I’ve been the Senior Vice President of Product for Amazon’s Education Division. Joanna Melo Almeida is one of three product managers on my team. I’ve worked closely with her on our hardware product line, the division’s product development strategy, and the business side of the education data center (a product she is spearheading).

1. How does the applicant's performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g., what are the applicant's principal strengths?)

As an organization that produces a preponderance of virtual products (i.e., web- and cloud-based services), Joanna’s role as a product manager is central. Product manager roles are very competitive at Amazon, with numerous internal and external candidates often vying for the same position. Only the best of the best become product managers; within that cohort, I rank Joanna in the top 10%.

Joanna manages products in the integrated solutions category. These are generally integrations between outside hardware companies and Amazon’s Education Division. Products include school building doors with facial recognition and a tablet message board that dynamically displays content outside classroom doors.

TAKES INITIATIVE

Joanna often takes initiative in the workplace without prompting from other managers or me. For instance, she is currently spearheading a new product: the Education Data Center. Initially, an education data center product wasn’t on our radar, but Joanna’s extensive user outreach and feedback gathering work identified a need. She then rallied stakeholders around her idea and has brought it to market. Young product managers typically oversee existing products, leaving new product rollout to more senior colleagues. Joanna’s achievement is notable because of her relative inexperience and the fact that she pinpointed a greenfield opportunity at a company like Amazon, where the product offering is already robust. Next year the Education Data Center will create an estimated 2% or $4.7M increase in our division’s gross revenue.

PRODUCT STRATEGIST

On multiple occasions, I have seen Joanna step outside her product management role and successfully work on a range of issues including product development strategy. Last year Joanna collaborated with me on the strategic direction of future product development. As part of that process, Joanna created a unique matrix to categorize hypothetical future product mixes. Some of the factors she integrated into her model included revenue estimations, the level of complexity in producing a given product, and the availability of outside service providers. Her final analysis identified two products as likely to succeed: Smart School Surveillance and Smart Classroom Tablet. In fact, both products have since launched are exceeding early sales estimates.

Joanna’s work was on par with that of a post-MBA associate with prior experience in business development or strategy. Her contributions are especially impressive considering that her background is in computer science (not product management or business).

SELF-CONFIDENT

Persuading colleagues and stakeholders to voluntarily collaborate is at the heart of good product management.  That can’t be achieved by a product manager intimidated by others or who backs down at the slightest challenge. The reality is that many early-career professionals lack the self-confidence and assertiveness to be competent product managers (which is why it is typically a role held by post-MBA associates at Amazon). I mention this to highlight the significance of Joanna being promoted to product manager immediately after completing the OFRP rotational program. Joanna’s self-confidence comes through in her day-to-day work and public speaking.

I accompanied Joanna as she pitched the Education Data Center to some of the largest school districts in the U.S. I had assumed that Joanna would discuss the technical aspects of the Education Data Center and leave the business presentation to me. I was wrong. Joanna surprised me during our first pitch to the New York City Department of Education. She expertly covered both technical and business topics during the presentation and afterward during in-depth Q&A sessions, successfully persuading two of the country’s largest school districts - Fulton County School System in Atlanta and Los Angeles Unified School District - to become first mover clients.

2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

Last April, we needed to develop a proposal for revenue and cost-sharing between the Education Division and our partner hardware companies. Joanna is someone who holds herself to a very high standard. She spent time drafting a pricing strategy, carefully considering what would appeal to our customers and partners while maximizing the Education Division's profit margins. Her solution was a percentage-based split between the two parties.

Because some of the products, such as the school door, would likely be bundled with products from outside the Education Division, I suggested that the percentage-based split model might prove problematic. Joanna agreed to work with me to create a pricing solution. We settled on one with a flat-rate profit share for third-party companies.

Joanna agreed to the new model but still preferred her original proposal. She felt she had invested a lot of time trying to get it right. I agreed with this but reminded her that nobody gets everything right on the first go-around, and that experience is a great teacher.

My feedback to Joanna was that sometimes it seemed like she got frustrated more easily than other colleagues might under similar circumstances. I suggested that if she applied the same iterative approach she used in her team-based product management work to individual analytical work (such as creating a pricing model), she might be less anxiety when things didn’t go quite to plan. Joanna thanked me for the analogy, which she said resonated with her. Since then, Joanna has been more relaxed and actively seeks constructive feedback on her work in an effort to iterate before finalizing.

MBA Recommendation Example from section

Like what you're reading? Purchase a PDF copy of the book, MBA & EMBA APPLICATION GUIDE: Recommendations - Write Your Own Professional Letter of Recommendation with 25+ Examples

EMBA Recommendation Example from section 4.6

OLIVIA - EMBA, Quality Manager Crane Aerospace & Electronics - STRENGTHS: innovative, insightful, good listener, inclusive leadership style; WEAKNESS: rigid definition of success

Please describe your relationship to the applicant.

My name is Steven Muller, and I’m currently a Senior IT Manager at Crane Aerospace & Electronics. I’ve been with the company for 14 years and oversee software development for two core product lines: the Anti-skid Runway System and the Bird Strike Collision Detection System. I hired Olivia Ayers in June 20XX as a Project Manager. She has since been promoted to Quality Manager. Olivia has been my direct report since YEAR.

How has the applicant's career progressed during the time you have known or worked with him/her? Please be as specific as possible.

In 20XX, Olivia joined Crane Aerospace & Electronics in a newly created Project Manager role focused exclusively on day-to-day project management for our Anti-skid Runway System. Olivia’s role quickly expanded beyond its initial scope. Today she is a Quality Manager who a) manages all software development for two core products, b) oversees all third-party suppliers of programming services on a company-wide basis (budget of $25M, managing negotiations and contract execution, and liaising with legal on enforcement), and c) is the point person within the Aviation Electronics Division responsible for initiating and maintaining compliance with ISSEO. ISSEO is a standard way of operating in the aviation industry with defined ways to improve a company’s software development processes and for it to assess its suppliers.

Olivia has become an indispensable member of my team and the broader Crane family. Within our division, she’s also an unofficial process expert whose advice is regularly sought out by engineers several years her senior. She’s received offers from Crane’s Finance Division to take over cost-tracking across the company and from Crane’s Radar Division to manage its project managers. Fortunately, Olivia has enough irons in the fire in the Aviation Electronics Division that she has opted to remain with us.

Please assess the applicant’s intellectual strength, judgment, and creativity.

Olivia has brought fresh eyes to business as usual in the Aviation Electronics Division and has spearheaded a series of innovative suggestions and initiatives, all successful thanks to her ambition to do things well (rather than well enough).

INNOVATIVE

Olivia used her technical and project management skills to create an innovative dashboard that allows us to track and analyze software development projects. In the past, we’d tracked project progress using a big picture approach focused on one final deliverable at project conclusion. Olivia’s dashboard uses an internal logic that breaks a project into modules and creates multiple deliverables. This has been a game-changer, allowing us to attribute issues to specific points in the development process, improve overall code quality, and negotiate better terms with clients like Boeing and Airbus. The dashboard has saved an estimated $650k in 20XX alone.

Please assess the applicant’s ability to work effectively in groups.

Olivia has brought many great ideas and energy to Crane Aerospace & Electronics and the Aviation Electronics Division. During the dashboard rollout (described above) the Systems Team was not eager to change their workflow, as Olivia requested. On the surface, both Olivia and I assumed it was a case of team members rejecting change out of hand. Rather than trying to make her point by re-highlighting the virtues of the new workflow, Olivia asked probing questions: What are your top two concerns about the new workflow? Which aspect of the workflow might negatively impact your deliverables? etc. Budget issues soon emerged as the real issue. Olivia worked out a compromise with the group. They plan to implement the new workflow on our next generation of products.

Please assess the applicant’s potential for assuming major management responsibilities.

INSIGHTFUL

Good managers and leaders distinguish themselves through by ‘seeing’ a future state of affairs and acting on that vision. These qualities are key to improving the status quo and perfectly describe Olivia’s management style.

Shortly after joining my team, Olivia approached me with concerns about the product line’s growing costs and quality and delivery issues. To my surprise, she spontaneously raised the need to elevate our internal standards to industry standards (such as ISSEO). I was thrilled to have someone on board, eager to create improvements and change. Today, due to our new ISSEO certification, quality is at an all-time high, and costs are down by 12%.

GOOD LISTENER

Good managers listen to what team members are saying and hear what they’re not saying. Olivia is a careful listener who seems to conect with a range of personality types, from the introverted to the outspoken. She’s worked with employees and our internal training team to address questions they were previously afraid to ask, like what should be the criteria for accepting or rejecting code delivered by third-party suppliers? Out of habit, employees used to approve and release payment for 99% of all third-party deliverables despite some of this code being unusable. Olivia worked to implement standards and benchmarks that employees now use to guide their decision making. This seemingly small change has translated into a higher quality product. For example, improved algorithms have allowed us to reduce in-air bird strikes by 19%.

Please discuss the applicant's weaknesses and the efforts, if any, the applicant has made to improve in these areas.

Olivia is very action-orientated, and the upside is obvious: she gets things done. The downside is that she can be overly focused on achieving an outcome she defined as ‘success’ at the project’s outset. In doing so, she fails to see that value can likewise be found in other, ‘less optimal’ outcomes.

An example: Olivia took over third-party supplier management for all Crane Aerospace & Electronics in 20XX. Previously we’d approved and released payment for 99% of the deliverables from these suppliers. Olivia instituted higher standards for evaluating code. She began flagging issues and asking suppliers to remedy them before payment was released.

On several occasions, Olivia and I discussed her frustration with suppliers not meeting the clear standards she’d set for them. She considered terminating suppliers who had worked with LRX for years with new ones. It was true that suppliers sometimes missed their mark. Still, as I pointed out, there is a strategic value in using the same suppliers year after year because, in a crisis, they will be familiar enough with your product to help you. Olivia began to reevaluate her position when she realized that even when a supplier failed on the surface to deliver near-perfect code, they had succeeded in advancing other priorities (serving as a future resource).

Olivia is working on moving beyond a black-and-white assessment of outcomes and is redefining success in broader terms to find a silver lining in any situation.

Please discuss your observations concerning the applicant's leadership skills. Please cite specific situations that demonstrate the applicant's leadership abilities.

INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP STYLE

Olivia constantly looks to make work easier and more harmonious for others. Her initiative to create special bi-weekly project meetings is an example of that. Clients like Boeing regularly request product updates and modifications. Previously our approach to managing all these requests varied from one team to the next. Some groups would correspond by email or shared dashboards, while others used Slack or regular phone calls. Often key people were inadvertently left out of the loop, creating miscommunication and confusion.

Olivia convinced all the major product contributors (across three teams and 50+ team members) to add another meeting to their already busy schedules. She pitched these meetings would be a new forum for the prioritization of changes, the monitoring of progress, and the airing of any concerns. I’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from team leads who say these meetings have helped identify gaps they weren’t even aware of. We now have a single approach to client product updates, and according to our latest survey, a 42% increase in client satisfaction.

How does the applicant defend his or her ideas; can you provide an example?

Olivia is a skilled communicator who seeks, first and foremost, to understand the point of view of her interlocutor. Rather than ‘defending’ her idea in the traditional sense of the term (i.e., one-upping her opponent with a better argument), Olivia focuses on asking questions to understand why and how a person has developed a position or perspective.

An example: Olivia, I, and several other people were in a control board meeting when one of the team leads complained that the protocol for managing the shared database seemed to change week to week and that she was frustrated by never knowing exactly how data should be input.

Olivia’s response was to point to three different pieces of documentation with instructions on data input procedures. Olivia could have ended the discussion there (Olivia was in the right, there was not a lack of documentation), but she kept questioning the team lead. She discovered that the team lead’s gripe wasn’t about data input procedures but the database’s lackluster user interface. Olivia is now in the process of revamping the user interface.

Like what you're reading? Purchase a PDF copy of the book, MBA & EMBA APPLICATION GUIDE: Recommendations - Write Your Own Professional Letter of Recommendation with 25+ Examples

Recommender Talking Points Example from section 2.10

Recommendation Outline (a.k.a. Talking Points) - Engineer at Glencore Mining

Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, their role in your organization.

From 20XX-XX, I was a General Manager at Glencore and Axel Sandberg’s direct supervisor in Asia. At the time, Axel was an entry-level Mining Engineer. I’ve stayed in contact with Axel since his promotion and move to the U.S. and would describe our current relationship as mentor-mentee.

1. How do the applicant's performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

EXCEPTIONAL MATURITY AND ADAPTABILITY

You’ve known me since my early days at Glencore. I was fresh out of a rigorous engineering master’s program at Harbin Institute of Technology when we first collaborated at Glencore’s Baar, Switzerland headquarters. At the time, I was completing a year-long internship with Glencore in the U.S.

You said that what surprised you was my maturity and interpersonal skills, especially for someone who was only 23 years old at the time. You were a General Manager based in Shanghai and needed someone trustworthy to take charge of our remote Shengli, China plant. I think you knew I had a great technical skill set, but you had previously encountered issues staffing young graduates to distant (rural) sites. Often these applicants lacked the emotional maturity to cope in a non-urban setting and failed to develop a strong relationship with local staff.

I appreciate your willingness to take a chance and offer me the job. When you visited the plant for the first time, I think your concerns were put to rest, and more than that, I hope your expectations were surpassed.  The plant’s management and staff had excellent things to say about me, and I think that was the first time locals in Shengli had given you compliments instead of complaints about an outsider. So that made me feel good.

The plant had been experiencing issues. The local staff resisted increasing the maintenance routine (not wanting to reallocate person-hours to maintenance). I understood the locals because I had made a real effort to live like a local. That helped me communicate how one issue mapped onto another. Machine breakdowns (due to a lack of maintenance) resulted in sub-optimal production, eventually leading to future layoffs. My approach resonated with local staff who relented and came to the table to discuss prioritizing resources to improve machine maintenance. I think you were impressed by how my approach improved productivity by 12%.

INVESTING IN RELATIONSHIP BUILDING WITH LOCALS

I’ve always made it a priority to build relationships with locals wherever I go. I think that has paid dividends on multiple projects. When you asked me to go to Malaysia for a year to work on the $6M FirmConnect project, my close bond with the local operations team there helped us predict machine breakdowns before they even happened. That was thanks to the staff being so forthcoming with information (a rarity in some countries). The operations team was much older than me (35-50 years old on average), but I didn’t let that intimidate me. They nicknamed me the orchestra conductor, which I took as an honor! I brought the entire project in ahead of schedule, resulting in our sales team capturing a majority share in the manganese market in Asia. That was a big win for Glencore Asia that year, and I know you and the people at corporate headquarters were pleased about it.

SOLUTIONS DRIVEN - IDENTIFIES ISSUES AND DRIVES TOWARDS A RESOLUTION

Here’s an example of identifying an issue and then taking the initiative to drive to a solution. We were in a meeting to determine where to establish a new plant. There was a lot of vested interest in that meeting, with every sales manager and market segment manager claiming that his territory would grow the most in the coming months and, therefore, his territory should be the site of the new plant. But their claims were based on unsubstantiated projections, and I didn’t feel confident in the idea of spending several million dollars on a hunch. We didn’t have the data we needed internally, so I looked for ways to find information to help support our decision-making.

I reached out to a market research firm, and for a few thousand dollars, the team purchased data on all the locations we were looking at (Malaysia, Indonesia, India, etc.). While the group initially leaned towards Indonesia, the data I presented supported India as the ideal location for our investment.

I think this example demonstrates my commitment to our team’s success in Asia and my willingness to go the extra mile to ensure a successful outcome.

CONCLUSION Here’s a sample conclusion for your review.

Axel has consistently demonstrated exceptional maturity and adaptability, which are the cornerstones of success in the mining industry, where a project leader must work across multiple locations and cultures, often in remote areas. I feel that an MBA from Harvard Business School will help Axel push his leadership skills to the next level and fully support his candidacy at Harvard Business School.

2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

I remember once leading a meeting with Glencore staff from both engineering and other departments, including accounting, legal, and sales. You approached me afterward with some concerns you had about my communication style. You said that some of the people in the meeting from the non-engineering departments were having difficulty following my presentation. I was surprised and disappointed because I had put a lot of effort into my presentation. I’d hoped to make a great impression and get my points across to the entire team.

You suggested that I adjust the presentation’s content and my delivery to match the skill set of everyone involved. You said that the points I was trying to make were all good ones, but some of them were presented from a far too technical perspective. Non-engineering colleagues got lost in the technical jargon and details. You told me in those types of meetings (with a mixed audience) that I needed to prioritize my goals when presenting. You said that the goal wasn’t to get everyone to understand the technical minutiae of an issue but to frame the problem from a strategic and financial perspective so that people could agree on the next steps from a managerial perspective (not a technical perspective).

I took your advice and asked you to review the material for my next presentation to ensure that it would be understandable to all. Once I adjusted my presentation style, I noticed more participation in the Q&A section from people across departments, not just those in engineering.

Like what you're reading? Purchase a PDF copy of the book, MBA & EMBA APPLICATION GUIDE: Recommendations - Write Your Own Professional Letter of Recommendation with 25+ Examples

3. Online Review Offer.

Thank you for purchasing this book! I hope it will prove helpful to you in your MBA or EMBA application journey. To encourage reviews of this book on platforms like Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble,  and Kobo, readers who post an online review can request a complimentary 40-minute consultation with the author and resumeSTORY.builders founder, Leah Derus OR a free copy of a book (forthcoming in August 2022)f rom resumeSTORY.builders: MBA & EMBA Application Guide: Story-based Resumes or MBA & EMBA Application Guide: Goals? Why MBA? Statement of Purpose Essays

Schedule a complimentary 40-minute consultation: Email books@resumeSTORY.builders with 1) a screenshot of your review, 2) your phone number and availability, 3) your resume or any relevant document you would like to discuss with Leah

Request a free copy of a book: Email books@resumeSTORY.builders with 1) a screenshot of your review and 2) the book title you are requesting (either MBA & EMBA Application Guide: Story-based Resumes or MBA & EMBA Application Guide: Goals? Why MBA? Statement of Purpose Essays)

4. Download. Recommendation Brainstorming Grid.

5. MBA & EMBA Recommendation Questions 2022-23.

5.1   MBA – Berkeley Haas, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Haas’ latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Berkeley Haas asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-5 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not indicated or enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization.
  2. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
  4. In the Berkeley MBA program, we develop leaders who embody our distinctive culture's four key principles one of which is “confidence without attitude” or “confidence with humility”. Please comment on how the applicant reflects this Berkeley Haas value.
  5. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.2   MBA - Chicago Booth, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Booth’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Chicago Booth asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form with questions 1-2 and their response. Chicago Booth does not specify or enforce a word limit.

  1. How do the applicant's performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.
  2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

5.3   MBA - Columbia, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Columbia’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Columbia asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-2 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.
  2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.

5.4   MBA - Cornell Johnson, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Johnson’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Cornell Johnson gives recommenders the option to either upload a file to the online recommendation form (with the recommendation questions and their response) OR to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-3 in fields in the online recommendation form. Cornell provides a recommended word limit for each question but does not enforce the word limit.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant's role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the applicant's performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g. what are the applicant's principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended word count: 500 words)

5.5   MBA - Darden, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Darden’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Darden asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-4 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are enforced but are much more generous than the indicated word limit.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Word limit: 50 words) Actual word limit is 70
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words) Actual word limit is 1,000
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended word count: 500 words) Actual word limit 1,000
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.6   MBA - Dartmouth Tuck, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Tuck’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Tuck asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-4 in a field in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not indicated or enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant's role in your organization.
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant's principal strengths?)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.
  4. Is there anything else we should know?

5.7   MBA - Duke Fuqua, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Fuqua’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Duke Fuqua asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-4 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. Up to 50 words
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) Up to 500 words
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. Up to 500 words
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.8   MBA - Harvard Business School, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Harvard’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

HBS asks recommenders to enter their response to the following question(s) into a field in the online recommendation form. Character limit is enforced.

  • Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, their role in your organization (300 characters)

HBS asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-3 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. How do the applicant's performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (Recommended: 300 words)
  2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended: 250 words)
  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know? Please be concise.

5.9   MBA - INSEAD, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as INSEAD’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

INSEAD asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-5 in fields in the online recommendation form. No word limit is indicated or enforced.

  • How long have you known the candidate? Define your relationship with the candidate and the circumstances whereby you met.
  1. Comment on the candidate's career progress to date and his/her career focus.
  2. What do you consider to be the candidate's major strengths? Comment on the factors that distinguish the candidate from other individuals at his/her level.
  3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major areas for development/improvement?
  4. Comment on the candidate’s potential for senior management. Do you see him/her as a future leader?
  5. Describe the candidate as a person. Comment on his/her ability to establish and maintain relationships, sensitivity to others, self-confidence, attitude, etc. Specifically comment on the candidate's behaviour or skills in a group setting/team environment.

5.10  MBA - Kellogg, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Kellogg’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Kellogg asks recommenders to enter their response to the following question(s) into fields in the online recommendation form. There is no word limit.

  • Please comment briefly on the context of your interaction with the applicant and his/her role in your organization.
  • What has been the candidate’s most significant contribution to your organization? Provide measurable impact if applicable.

Kellogg asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-4 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced. Alternatively, recommenders can enter their response to questions 1-4 in fields in the online recommendation form.

  1. Kellogg has a diverse student body and values students who are inclusive and encouraging of others with differing perspectives and backgrounds. Please tell us about a time when you witnessed the candidate living these values. (300 words)
  2. How does the candidate’s performance compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the candidate. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else you would like us to know?

5.11  MBA - London Business School, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as LBS’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

LBS asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-5 in fields in the online recommendation form. The word limit is not enforced.

  1. How do you know the applicant? How long have you known them for? (500 word limit)
  2. What would you say are the applicant’s key strengths and talents (500 word limit)
  3. What would you say are the applicant’s key weaknesses or areas for improvement? (500 word limit)
  4. How do the applicant’s performance, potential and personal qualities compare to those of other individuals in similar roles? (500 word limit)
  5. What do you think this person might be doing in ten years’ time? Why? (500 word limit)

5.12  MBA – Michigan Ross, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Ross’ latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Maximum word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (500 words)
  4. Is there anything else we should know? (Optional)

5.13  MBA - MIT Sloan, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Sloan’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

MIT Sloan asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-4 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. {Recommended word count: 500 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.14  MBA – NYU Stern, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Stern’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Stern refers to its recommendations as ‘EQ Endorsements’. Stern asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-5 in fields in the online recommendation form. No word limit is indicated or enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant's role in your organization.
  2. How does the applicant's performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles (if applicable)? Please provide specific examples. (E.g. what are the applicant's principal strengths?)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.
  4. IQ+EQ is a core value of NYU Stern, and we seek exceptional individuals who possess both intellectual and interpersonal strengths. Emotional intelligence (EQ) skills such as self-awareness, empathy, communication and self-management are at the core of our community of leaders. Please provide one specific and compelling example to demonstrate the applicant's emotional intelligence.
  5. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.15  MBA - Stanford, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Stanford’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Stanford asks recommenders to enter their response to the following question(s) into a field in the online recommendation form. Character limit is enforced.

  • Please comment briefly on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable, describe the applicant's role in your organization. (Limit 320 characters.)

Stanford asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-3 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. How does the applicant's performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (e.g., what are the applicant's principal strengths?) - Up to 500
  2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. - Up to 500 words
  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.16  MBA – UCLA Anderson, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Anderson’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 300 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended word count: 300 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.17  MBA - Wharton, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Wharton’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Wharton asks recommenders to enter their response to questions 1-3 into fields in the online recommendation form. The online form imposes a 7,500 character limit for each response (that’s around 1,100 words). For all practical purposes, word limits are not enforced.

  1. Please provide example(s) that illustrate why you believe this candidate will meaningfully contribute to the Wharton MBA community. (Word count: 300)
  2. Please provide example(s) that illustrate why you believe this candidate will find success throughout their career. (Word count: 300)
  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.18  MBA - Yale, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Yale’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Yale asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-5 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant's role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant's principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  4. Are you in a position to know whether the applicant is sponsored for the MBA by his or her current employer? If so, please comment.
  5. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.19  EMBA - Chicago Booth, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Booth’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

The same recommendation is used for Booth’s EMBA programs in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong.

Booth’s EMBA program asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. This is the recommended approach by resumeSTORY.builders The file should contain questions 1-5 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. Please assess the applicant’s intellectual strength, judgment and creativity
  2. Please assess the applicants ability to work effectively in groups
  3. Please assess applicants potential for assuming major management responsibilities
  4. Please assess any professional limitations or areas of weakness in the applicant
  5. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about the candidate in order to help us evaluate their candidacy?

5.20  GEMBA - INSEAD, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as INSEAD’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

INSEAD asks recommenders to enter their response to the short question and recommendation questions 1-5 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not indicated or enforced.

  • How long have you known the candidate? Describe your relationship with the candidate and the circumstances whereby you met:
  1. Comment on the candidate’s career progress to date and his/her career focus orientation.
  2. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major strengths? Comment on the factors that distinguish the candidate from other individuals at his/her level.
  3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major areas for development/improvement?
  4. Comment on the candidate’s potential for senior management. Do you see him/her as a future leader?
  5. Describe the personality of the candidate, including reference to the characteristics listed in the table of criteria you completed above.

5.21  EMBA - Kellogg, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Kellogg’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

The same recommendation is used for Kellogg’s EMBA program in Evanston, Illinois and in Miami.

Kellogg asks recommenders to enter their response to the following question(s) into a field in the online recommendation form. No word limit is indicated or enforced.

  • Please comment briefly on the context of your interaction with the applicant and his/her role in your organization.
  • What has been the candidate’s most significant contribution to your organization? Provide measurable impact if applicable.

Kellogg’s EMBA program asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-4 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. Kellogg has a diverse student body and values students who are inclusive and encouraging of others with differing perspectives and backgrounds. Please tell us about a time when you witnessed the candidate living these values. (300 words)
  2. How does the candidate’s performance compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the candidate. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else you would like us to know?

5.22  EMBA & Sloan Fellows - MIT Sloan, 2021-22

This section will be updated each year as Sloan’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

EMBA

Sloan’s EMBA program asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-6 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. How long and in what capacity you have known the applicant.
  2. How does he or she stand out from others who have shared a similar role?
  3. How does the applicant interact with others; can you provide examples of when he or she has had an impact on a person, group, or organization?
  4. How does the applicant defend his or her ideas; can you provide an example?
  5. Is there an area where the applicant has potential room for professional growth? How will the MIT Executive MBA contribute to that growth?
  6. For current employers, what is her/his likely next role?

SLOAN FELLOWS

MIT Sloan asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-4 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. {Recommended word count: 500 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.23  MSx - Stanford, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Stanford’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

Stanford MSx asks recommenders to enter their response to the following question(s) into a field in the online recommendation form. Character limit is enforced.

  • Please comment briefly on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable, describe the applicant's role in your organization. (Limit 320 characters)
  • Based on your current knowledge, assess the applicant’s future career potential, including any specific opportunities or risks you see for them, should they pursue a full-time course of study at Stanford next year. (Limit 1200 characters)

Stanford MSx asks recommenders to upload a file to the online recommendation form. The file should contain questions 1-3 and the recommender’s response to each. Word limits are not enforced.

  1. How does the applicant's performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (e.g., what are the applicant's principal strengths?) - Up to 500
  2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. - Up to 500 words
  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

5.24  EMBA - Wharton, 2022-23

This section will be updated each year as Wharton’s latest application goes live. You can download an updated version of this chapter by visiting resumeSTORY.builders/books

The same recommendation is used for Wharton’s EMBA programs in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

INSEAD asks recommenders to enter their response to the recommendation questions 1-6 in fields in the online recommendation form. Word limits are not indicated or enforced. Note: recommenders can make additional comments (beyond answering questions 1-6) by uploading a document.

  1. What is your relationship to the applicant, and how long have you known him/her?
  2. How has the applicant's career progressed during the time you have known or worked with him/her? Please be as specific as possible.
  3. In your opinion, what is the applicant's most outstanding quality? What makes this applicant an exceptional colleague or employee? Please use specific examples to demonstrate these qualities.
  4. Please discuss the applicant's weaknesses and the efforts, if any, the applicant has made to improve in these areas.
  5. Please discuss your observations concerning the applicant's leadership skills. Please cite specific situations that demonstrate the applicant's leadership abilities.
  6. What is your impression of the candidate's ability to work closely with others? Please describe a specific situation that illustrates the candidate's ability to work in group project environments.

Essay or SOP. Leadership Development or Rotational Program.*

When a former client decided to apply to a leadership development program at his employer (John Deere) he asked for help developing an essay for the application. To write this essay I drew on my years of experience writing winning client essays to top MBA programs like Harvard Business School and Wharton. Essay and Statement of Purpose writing services are detailed on the services page.

Essay Prompts: What do you plan to gain both personally and professionally from the John Deere Leadership Development Program?

What are your long-term career objectives and how would the John Deere Leadership Development Program contribute to your attainment of these objectives?

Given your already demanding job and various important family/personal obligations, how do you plan to handle the additional demands on your time once you enroll in the John Deere Leadership Development Program?

As a Product Support Specialist in John Deere's Mining division I bring my technical knowledge to bear on the development of new products and the refinement of existing ones. When I think about my work within the broader context of the Global Mining business, I see how my individual contribution maps on to our overarching goal to uphold the John Deere brand and reputation for excellence in the eyes of our customers.

Whether I’m participating in a quarterly meeting with a client like Smith Brothers, or responding to issues at sites in Australia, China or Mexico, I leverage my business acumen and interpersonal skills to exceed customer expectations. In doing so, relationships are built, goodwill is created and the ongoing profitability of the Global Mining division is ensured.

In the course of this project, I didn’t expect any improvements to come out of the tool servicing work stream, but in reality, that’s where we’ve seen the biggest value add.’ It felt great to learn that Larry McDougal, President of Dealer Services at Dilling Canada, was pleased with my contribution to our 588 Truck. During a quarterly meeting in 2017, dealers had lamented the fact that they were ‘losing technicians because we can’t keep up with training…John Deere machines are just too complex.

At first glance, the ratio of machine servicing hours to operating hours looks like just another metric, and a uniquely technical one at that. In fact, it’s as much a financial metric - influencing dealers’ costs and profit margins, as it is an operational one - affecting human resources and employee turnover. The question I asked myself was: Is this an engineering problem or a communication issue? In other words, did we need to simplify the mechanics of our trucks or did we need to change people’s perception of our trucks - helping them to perceive our products as more easily serviceable?

Compared to overhauling complex product specifications, altering perceptions was a quick and cost-efficient solution. Achieving that begged a second question: Should technicians receive more of the same training or should they be trained differently? I opted for the latter. Knowing that a lot of technicians are visual rather than verbal thinkers, I spearheaded an effort to supplement our text-based 588 maintenance manual with illustrations, color coding and ISO, SAE and John Deere symbols. With invaluable collaboration from our legal, marketing, engineering and graphic design teams and a modest budget of $15k, the 200-page 588 manual was transformed into a knowledge base spanning 650 pages. We’ve feedback we’ve received from dealers has been overwhelmingly positive. The consensus: Dealers want to make the knowledge base a John Deere staple.

A novice can easily hear the request a customer is able to articulate, but a global understanding of the mining business and a desire to really listen are key to deciphering and responding creatively to a request our customer hasn’t yet formulated. The 588 knowledge base project is just a small example of my desire to do just that.

John Deere's Leadership Development Program is an exciting opportunity to deepen my understanding of the technological, safety, environmental, legal and business issues involved in mineral exploration, exploitation, and site reclamation. Beyond the academic topics covered, I believe that I’ll grow my professional network and derive a greater appreciation for issues seen through the lens of classmates from different functional areas including product, sales, marketing and engineering.

More specifically I think the Leadership Development Program will help me better understand:

  • How we can better identify customer expectations around resolution time, quality of repair, interim corrective or permanent corrective actions
  • How engineers and business people make purchasing decisions for their mining fleets
  • The intricacies of mine development and machine fleet requirements
  • How, as a company, we can make John Deere the preferred equipment supplier
  • How John Deere can deliver world-class service

I hope to leverage that knowledge in pursuing my short-term goal to lead a team of direct reports within the product division. In the longer-term, I would like to take on P&L responsibility and actively contribute to senior-level, strategic and operational decision making as part of John Deere’s global leadership team.

Any engineer will tell you that it’s the design restrictions that make their work interesting. In a similar vein, additional workload from the Leadership Development Program will require me to allocate some personal time to my studies, but, it will also allow me to overcome challenges and build character. I think that’s extremely important for both personal and professional growth.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to review my application to the John Deere Leadership Program. I’d be honored to be one of just a handful of John Deere employees to participate in this opportunity.


Is an EMBA or Part-time MBA worth it?


Overview.

Is an EMBA or Part-time MBA worth my while? How can I leverage an MBA into tangible advancement in my career? In this article, I’m going to cover both of those questions in this article. Know that, while general advice applies to the ‘average’ situation, no individual case is ‘average’. Each is unique. Reach out for a free consultation if you’d like to chat.

Before we get into my take on things, let’s look at some advice that’s typical of what you’ll find online:

EMBA degrees can position you for a promotion, especially for careers in finance, marketing and accounting. And although a well-regarded and rigorous EMBA program will sharpen your skills and look good on your resume, it’s not a guarantee that new doors will open for you.  That’s a critically important factor to consider, because an EMBA isn’t cheap and employers reimburse for less than they once did.

If your goal is to switch careers—not just advance in your current career—you might be better off in a full-time MBA program rather than an EMBA program.  But if you’ve got several years experience in one career and want to move your career to the next level, an EMBA program is a better choice.
Forbes

The first paragraph offers solid advice, although I would add that knowing that an EMBA can position you for a promotion doesn’t really help you figure out if it will in your case. The second paragraph is misinformed. Forbes suggests that that people who are in their 30’s or 40’s should consider a traditional 2-year MBA – which makes no sense at all, as they’ll have already aged out of such programs. Read my article Am I too old for a full-time, 2-year MBA?


Career advancement is a sales job.

Oftentimes when people begin seriously considering a part-time MBA or EMBA, it’s because they’ve come to a crossroad in their career. While an MBA can help you move your career forward or make a reasonable career pivot, it won’t magically transform your career on its own. An MBA can help your career when  you combine the degree with a) due diligence, b) planning and c) proactive career management.

While a two-year MBA offers people with 2-6 years of work experience the opportunity to completely pivot their career thanks to on-campus recruiting, part-time and EMBAs programs don’t offer on-campus recruiting. That is the big difference and it’s a difference that impacts job outcomes.

An MBA isn’t going to compensate for the fact that advancing professionally is a sales job. Many people enroll in EMBA/Part-time MBA programs thinking that the school will provide the career guidance, coaching, resume rewriting and mock interview support necessary to effectuate change in their careers.

I am back to work full-time in largely the same role as pre-EMBA – but I am not the same. The program’s biggest fault was that it didn’t totally prepare me for this awkward transition with my employer. I think the degree is a catalyst for professional change, whether originally intended or not. I wish I’d known that earlier.

The problem here isn’t with the EMBA program, it’s with the candidate’s expectations of the program and his failure to take an active role in managing his career. Just as your current career progression is entirely down to your ability to identify the right roles and successfully sell yourself into those positions – your post-MBA career progression post-MBA will still require the same effort.


Due diligence & planning.

While most people are interested in the MBA experience (both academic and social) their goal is usually to leverage the degree to translate their career goals into reality. For these people, an EMBA/Part-time MBA is an investment. Because it’s an investment, a preliminary due diligence process is advised.

Unfortunately, many people gloss over the due diligence process. To me that’s strange, because if those same people were to invest $100k+ in real estate they’d take an evidence-based approach – visiting the property, paying to have it inspected etc.

So let’s walk through some steps you can take to ensure that your decision making is well-informed and clear-sighted.


Step 1. Define your short-term goal & pinpoint your next role.

Take some time to reflect on where would you like to see yourself one year, three years and six+ years from now? Are you looking for a career change or career advancement?

Advancement: I’d like to continue advancing on my current career path (typically that would mean staying with your current company or industry).

It will be a fairly easy to research advancement options by speaking with people (from your network, superiors/colleagues, HR) or by researching the career paths of other professionals in a similar role/industry using LinkedIn.

Change: I’d like to transition to a new functional role or I’d like to continue on in my functional role but transition to a new industry or I’d like to do both.

If your transition is from one industry to another, I’d suggest looking for a similar functional role to the one you have now. If you’d like to transition from one functional area to another, I’d suggest staying in the same industry while looking for roles that meet the 60/40 criteria. 60% of the role should leverage on skills or strengths you have either demonstrated or can convince others you posses. The other 40% of the role can center on an area that interests you/that may be new to you. By pinpointing roles that meet the 60/40 criteria, you’re effectively with the employer by bringing something to the bargaining table (the 60%) while gaining something in return.

Change is always possible, but, as we transition from being a novice in our early 20’s to a more seasoned professional in our 30’s and 40’s, career change becomes a little tricky. It’s often at the mid-career mark that professionals look to rekindle the enthusiasm they had for their work early on in their career.

Pinpoint Roles: Whichever category you fall in (Advancement or Change), you’ll need to pinpoint specific roles. Simply saying, ‘I’m a senior manager and I’d like to be a V.P.’, is too vague. Instead, look for specific opportunities – current job postings online (LinkedIn and Indeed.com), within your company’s intranet or through your network/the grapevine. More than once I’ve spoken with clients who formed a mental model of their ideal role and set about applying to grad school without first verifying that such a role actually existed.

Pay particular attention to what is written in the job description. Usually responsibilities towards the beginning of the job description indicate what you’ll spend the majority of your time focused on. If online job description are available, I’d suggest saving postings into a Word document for reference. These will come in handy in the future – either for self-reflection purposes or as a point of reference if you decide to work with a career consultant or resume writer.

When pinpointing roles, be sure to focus on positions you’d be thrilled to have rather than limiting yourself to only those jobs you think you can get.

Broaden Your Search: Casting a wide net is a good idea. So often, people limit the scope of their job search to job titles they’re familiar with. If performing an online job search, using search terms other than the job title will help you find results that get you thinking outside the box.

Recently I spoke with someone in private wealth management who said he’d either like to find a new career path. He thought he could either leverage his knowledge of investment vehicles OR go into management consulting. Why? Because, as it turned out, he’d had a positive experience collaborating with outside consultants at his current employer. While those were two reasonable options, I suggested he widen his search to include some of the experiences and intrinsic qualities he had (but hadn’t given much thought to).

He had extensive experience in private wealth management which translated into more general skills like: sales and good interpersonal communication. In addition he’d worked as a special assistant to a high-ranking person in his organization. In that role he had managed teams, managed special projects, overseen internal issue management and been in charge of hiring and evaluating employees. In addition he was bilingual in English and Japanese.

  • Skills & Strengths: skills (e.g. sales) and intrinsic strengths (e.g. strong communication skills)
  • Keywords: terms that describe the type of environment you’d like to find yourself in (entrepreneurial, collaborative, fast-paced, international, close-knit etc.) or what you’d like to do in that environment (strategy, customer relationship management, outreach etc.)
  • Limiting Factors: criteria that will help you narrow your results – for example, the role must be in the L.A. area and pay more than $100k

Search examples: ‘sales + strategic’ or ‘project management + collaborative’ or ‘investment vehicle + Japanese + international’

LinkedIn: Once you’ve pinpointed some roles, use LinkedIn to find people in similar roles to the one you’d like to transition to. Every LinkedIn profile tells a career trajectory story. You can glean insights by examining what others have done. You might even consider reaching out to someone whose profile is of particular interest. Ask for 15 minutes of their time to learn more about what they do and how they they’ve managed their career. Not everyone will agree to chat with you, but some people will. LinkedIn’s search filters are quite useful – allowing you to refine results by a number of variables (industry, current/past company, schools, location etc.).

Shortlist: Consider the roles you’ve found and shortlist those that most appeal to you.


Step 2. Verify that you need an MBA to secure your next role.

Now that you’ve got a shortlist of roles in hand you’ll want to verify whether or not you need an MBA to secure your next role. You can do this by a) making a genuine effort to land a role on your shortlist now (without an MBA) and/or b) speaking with people to understand whether an MBA would make you a much more desirable candidate for the roles on your shortlist.

I applied for the role at a few places and didn’t hear back. I need an MBA.‘ Generally speaking, when a candidate doesn’t hear back from a recruiter it’s not because their profile is fundamentally lacking in something (like an MBA). Rather, it’s because their resume is not conveying the right stories. These people have a marketing problem that they think an MBA will solve. That’s just not true. When this person graduates from an EMBA program he’ll have two things: a new MBA AND his old marketing problem.

If you’ll be applying for roles as part of your due diligence process, you may want have your current resume reviewed, updated or rewritten. This will allow you to put your best foot forward and obtain accurate results from the job market. If you decide to move forward with EMBA/Part-time MBA applications – a fresh resume will be an asset for the application process.

Apply: Apply for the role(s) you shortlisted in Step 2. There are a couple of ways to go about this.

  • Apply to roles you’d genuinely consider accepting
  • Using the A/B Testing Method to send out A) resumes with an MBA and B) resumes without one. If you only get responses to the MBA resume – that supports the hypothesis that an MBA may be a critical next step. If neither resume generates interest you either need a better resume or you need to question whether the roles you’re applying to are too much of a reach at this juncture.

Recruiters: Reach out to executive recruiters and headhunters. Share your resume with them as well as your short-term goals. These professionals will be able to provide you with industry-specific feedback. In addition, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. When recruiters reach out to you, be sure to follow up. Put forward the fact that you’re considering an EMBA/Part-time MBA to get their perspective.

HR: Reach out to HR and decision makers within your current organization. Ask them about the possibility of transitioning to a new role now or in the future. Mention that you’re considering an MBA and find out whether the degree would bolster your candidacy.

Resume Builders: Work isn’t just what you get paid to do. You can diversify the professional experience section of your resume by offering to lend a hand (pro bono) to nonprofits and startups. Additionally you can network within your current company and volunteer to work on special projects that you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to be involved in.


Step 3. Leverage your EMBA or part-time MBA.

If the results of the due diligence process point to the fact that a part-time MBA or EMBA is a good option for you, you’ll want to have a 5-year career plan in place before you begin applying to programs. I recommend that you not wait until you complete your MBA degree before beginning to leverage it. The moment you’re accepted into a program, you can add the MBA to your resume. Rather than making one big career leap after you finish an MBA, look to make two smaller leaps: one at the beginning of your MBA program and another 2-3 years later.

Your 5-year career plan should detail the next two roles you plan to go after (one in the next year and another 2-3 years from now). This plan will help you better direct your networking efforts while at school. In addition, it will help you convey a broad vision for your career to HR people and line managers during interviews. This is extremely important because line managers often form an idea of whether or not a candidate has potential for advancement during preliminary meetings. Voicing your interest/intention to advance along a specific path sets expectations early on.


Step 4. Target EMBA programs.

In my experience, people don’t differentiate between EMBA and part-time MBA programs – both appear as ‘MBA’ on your resume and both formats will provide the same amount of professional leverage. Choosing the right format boils down to a) how much exposure a candidate has had to management/high level decision making and b) personal preferences (part-time programs require you to attend class on a weekly basis; EMBA programs usually meet twice monthly).

People in different industries tend to have different ideas about which business schools are ‘best’. For example, an EMBA from Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan or Cornell Johnson might be a better fit for someone from the IT industry because of the strong engineering departments at these three schools. For someone in banking, schools like Wharton, Kellogg or Booth might be preferable. Ask around (in your industry or target industry) or use the A/B testing method to experiment with different business schools on your resume can be useful.

If you’d like to discuss potentially undertaking an MBA or EMBA, feel free to reach out for a free consultation at fxMBAconsulting.com

I offer MBA and EMBA admissions consulting services through fxMBAconsulting.com Feel free to reach out for a free consultation to discuss your case and career needs.