Wharton Essay Analysis – Question 1

“As a leader in global business, Wharton is committed to sustaining ‘a truly global presence through its engagement in the world.’  What goals are you committed to and why?  How do you envision the Wharton MBA contributing to the attainment of those goals?” [750-1000]

A refreshing change from their classic big essay, probably designed to generate more targeted stories than merely calling for “career progress” which seemed to enable applicants to travel back to birth and slowly trudge through a catalogue of boring events.

Let’s break this badboy down:

1) Leader in GLOBAL business, wharton blah  GLOBAL PRESENCE blah in the WORLD

2) What goals are you COMMITTED to, and why?

3) How do you envision the Wharton MBA contributing to the attainment of those goals?

Today’s Post is going to focus exclusively on that first piece… the piece that doesn’t even contain a question!

Section 1 — The Global Blurb.

This declarative piece of info is highly telling, and is clearly all about that word “global.” What they’re really looking for here, is evidence that you are keeping with the times, and thinking about life and business and society in a way that is reflected in your goals… in a global context. This does NOT mean that your goals have to directly involve seven continents, or that the immediate reach of your business has to extend to the opposite point on the globe. Rather, you just need to be THINKING about the bigger picture as being an inherent part of your plan. Your goals, will in some way, have some type of impact or influence on something larger than just yourself. One hundred years ago that might have meant America, if you lived on these shores. Today, that means the rest of the world.

This past weekend, I gave a best man’s speech at a wedding. And I traveled back in time to remember other best man speeches I’d seen, in an effort to figure out what made the great ones, truly great. And I concluded that the ones that had the most impact and success, were the ones where the speaker was clearly making a connection with the groom, and the bride, and channeling those genuine relationships to let the speeches write themselves. Those were the most thoughtful ones, and the ones that audiences remembered. Sometimes, it’s as easy as thinking about that person. And letting the words follow.

In this case, take a moment to think about what global means. Lots of countries. Lots of competition. Lots of connectivity of late. And the thing that makes “global” possible is some type of glue, right? Otherwise the thing would be a non-issue. That glue comes in many shapes and sizes. And at its most basic level, is always about something human. When you’re thinking about your future goals in business, it will be interesting to see that they tap into something at THIS level. Something relevant and meaningful to people. And society. On a “global” level.

Now, how you frame your case is the real trick. Because it could be that you’re about to invent the next “internet.” Or it could be as simple as influencing a SINGLE person nearby to “pay it forward” and influence another person, and make an impact that way. Or it could be a billion other things. We’re interested to know (1) THAT you’re thinking about this larger context, (2) HOW you’re thinking about this larger context (i.e., does your plan sound compelling? plausible? intelligent?), and (3) WHY this particular plan has meaning to you.

We’ll tackle those other components in a future post. For now though, just start noodling around with that “global” issue. And let the words slowly come by themselves.

Chicago Booth – Essay 1 (2009)