Sponsored by The Jaffe Advantage: The Jaffe Advantage is a full service MBA Admissions Consultancy – with a strong belief in the power of storytelling. I have been advising prospective MBA candidates since 2010 and have helped multiple applicants gain entry to the top U.S. and European business schools.
Prompt: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn?
This essay was provided by the experts at Admissions Gateway.
Most [Nationality] women would remember their first lingerie shopping experience. It is hard to forget the experience of slipping into a dingy shop with your mother, getting eyed up by the male seller, buying without trial and rushing out before, God forbid, the world realizes you bought a bra.
Lingerie remains a taboo topic in [Country], and fashionable lingerie is considered especially risqué, with a ‘one-size, one-style – fits all’ mindset. Aiming to provide an uninhibited lingerie shopping experience, [Company’s] CEO entrusted me responsibility to make [Company] the largest lingerie player in [Country].
Our primary challenge was to create a transformational lingerie shopping experience in a conservative society. Women were apprehensive to share details and openly purchase lingerie, especially from an unknown start-up. I initiated a pan-India “Fit-for-all” campaign highlighting body diversity and the importance of well-fitting lingerie both for health and self-confidence. The campaign spanned 100+ micro-influencers and connected 5Mn+ women, enrolling 400K followers on social-media.
With [Company's] rapid growth, I focused on ensuring sustainability by building a service-oriented culture.
With traditional firms selling standard sizes this campaign helped identify unavailability of non-average sizes. I then led “Fit-athons’, measuring hundreds of women and built a fit recommendation engine. Collaborating with the Sourcing Head, my team standardised raw materials to ensure comfort and quality across 300+ sizes. To promote correct fit, we disseminated educational content at offline events and social-media.
Reaching women in underpenetrated, non-urban areas was challenging. We developed a strategy to build an e-commerce platform supported with retail stores. Targeting consumers through social-media/affiliates, we focussed on customer-experience across touchpoints – instructional website interface, quality checks, discrete delivery across 28k+ zip-codes and easy try-and-buy options. This increased consumer retention and boosted revenue to $[X]Mn/year.
Concentrating on offline expansion through a micro-markets approach, I identified cities with large addressable markets to open exclusive stores. Leveraging our USP as ‘fit experts’, we introduced consultation programs at our omni-channel outlets, employing virtual inventory exposure to provide the right fit across 10k+ styles. We improved offline accessibility through ~600 neighbourhood stores establishing [Company] in 10 cities with ~$[X]Mn in offline sales and the fastest breakeven for company stores.
With [Company’s] rapid growth, I focused on ensuring sustainability by building a service-oriented culture. Tracking consumer feedback; conducting weekly reviews, introducing soft-skills training and setting-up a NPS-linked appraisal process for 150+ employees, my team enabled 35% uptake in NPS.
Growing [Company] taught me to build brand salience through product differentiation. I learnt to step into the customer’s shoes and innovate by creating interactive, immersive experiences to overcome consumer hesitation. Building consumer loyalty highlighted the importance of product quality, and the need for an unobtrusive service-oriented culture.
Today, [company] serves 2Mn customers, is set to reach $[X]Mn revenue by 2020, and is growing into a women’s fashion brand with aim to expand into Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East and Africa.
This introduction immediately captured my attention. Not only is it humorous and engaging, but it establishes that the writer is about to embark on a story focused on leadership and change. Two of the most common mistakes I see candidates make are 1) beginning their essay with a sentence that essentially reiterates the question and 2) writing an introduction that is interesting but long-winded.
Admissions officers read application essays from morning to night. Anytime a candidate can provide a respite from the “ordinary” they are one step ahead. At the same time, it is important to ensure that the essay establishes its thesis early. In this case, the writer has done both by the third sentence.
After establishing context, the writer spends the rest of the essay focusing on her actions. She addresses four different sub-topics: establishing a value proposition based on fit; reaching women in rural areas through e-commerce, creating stores in micro-markets, and building a service oriented culture. Addressing different strategies allows the writer to showcase the variety and magnitude of her experience. She demonstrates her deep knowledge of marketing from e-commerce to customer experience to social media to the use of influencers. Business schools want to know that each of their students will bring a new perspective and point-of-view to the classroom. By using a leadership essay to demonstrate a deep understanding of marketing, the writer sets herself up as an expert who can add value to Kellogg both inside and outside the classroom.
While the essay asks about leadership, Kellogg is known for its focus on teamwork. The writer does an excellent job interweaving the two. She writes about collaborating with the Sourcing Head and she makes sure to credit her team for much of the work. The essay reflects the culture of the school by putting emphasis on working well with others.
Overall this is an excellent essay. However, as a third Party Admissions Consultant (I am reviewing this essay post submission) I can’t help but notice a few things I would have recommended changing. These aren’t show-stoppers, but they are important.
Overall this is an excellent approach to Kellogg’s leadership essay. Combined with her above-average academic credentials, I am not at all surprised to learn this candidate was admitted.
Disclaimer: With exception of the removal of identifying details, essays are reproduced as originally submitted in applications; any errors in submissions are maintained to preserve the integrity of the piece.
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