The following essay was submitted to the INSEAD MBA program by our client. The client was accepted to the program.
Several names and details in this essay sample were changed to protect client privacy.
The application essay question / topic:
Question: Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words maximum)
I was assigned the lead role for our company's Singapore IT Department stress management event in 2010 to help colleagues identify and address early signs of stress.
One of my colleagues in another department recommended a trainer who conducted a well received workshop in her department. I went to the trainer’s website and found a long list of amazing titles, including certified therapist and advanced corporate trainer. Impressed, I met up with her to discuss the training objective and review the presentation package. I decided to engage her, after discussing with my team members. Then, I proceeded to coordinate my team members' efforts to book the venues, cater refreshment, and design advertising communication to attract our colleagues.
Around 130 participants attended this event, which seemed to be engaging and interesting. However, I was surprised and upset when the feedback revealed an average overall satisfaction of only 3 out of 5. Some attendees felt the trainer focused too little on identifying and coping with stress, while others thought she was not knowledgeable enough.
Looking deeper into why the event was unsuccessful, I realized I didn’t study the needs of the participants, especially ignoring the fact that some senior colleagues may have attended similar workshops previously. I wrongly assumed that what I consider useful would be pertinent for all. I had to admit I was overly fascinated by the speaker's titles when I should have looked for her relevant experience. Finally, I realized I gave the speaker too much control over the presentation, when I should have been more specific about my audience's needs.
I continued to volunteer for event committees to gain experience and lent my hand for events chaired by my colleagues. I also carefully reviewed feedback and reflected after each event.
This year, I volunteered to chair a "new hires" event for the Women's Interest Network at work. I sent out a survey to all the new hires to gather questions they had about career progression. I chose senior management panelists and discussion topics based on the most popular questions submitted, in consultation with the HR department.
More than 50 new hires attended this event. As the emcee, I encouraged audience to ask questions and facilitated discussion between the panelists and audience. This time, the average satisfaction rate was 4.5 out of 5, and I was asked to organize additional events in the future.