Case Study | Aarti's Rapid Journey to INSEAD: Strategic Planning and Clear Goals Lead to Success in MBA Application

Aarti, an Indian female professional with seven years of experience in the real estate industry, approached us with only a few weeks before the application deadline, aiming for admission to a top MBA program. Despite a below-average GMAT score and unclear motivations for pursuing an MBA, we crafted a strategy focusing on her extensive international experience, significant career progression, and clearly defined career goals in real estate consulting. Our tailored approach led to her acceptance at INSEAD with a scholarship, showcasing the power of strategic planning and vision crafting in overcoming application challenges.

Indian female applicant with 7 years of experience

Application Round: Round 3 (Sept Intake)

Aarti approached us with only a few weeks remaining until the application deadline, determined to start her MBA the following fall and only at a top business school. We quickly devised an application strategy that included a mix of top US schools (HBS/GSB) and two leading European programs (LBS/INSEAD). Given her profile and aspirations, we believed this selection offered the right balance of ambition and attainable goals.


Although she had an impressive career path in the real estate industry, marked by multiple promotions and a relocation from India to Singapore, her GMAT score was below expectations, and she lacked clear motivations for pursuing an MBA.

Strategic Approach

Leveraging our strong expertise in the real estate industry (having worked with dozens of applicants, including C-Level executives), we promptly helped her define clear actionable career goals. The industry was going through massive transformation following the COVID pandemic, and we wanted to leverage her Workplace & Change consulting experience to identify career goals that would make her an attractive candidate. Instead of targeting consulting, we targeted real estate consulting as her number one exit strategy. 

Vision Crafting

To craft a successful INSEAD application, it's essential to focus on three key areas:

  1. Showcase Strong International Experience: Aarti had significant experience, having spent the last few years working at her firm’s regional headquarters in Singapore and overseeing all Southeast Asia markets. She also worked extensively with global teams in her previous role in India and we wanted to highlight her wealth of  international experience to demonstrate her ability to adapt to different cultures and environments and emphasize her global perspective.
  2. Demonstrate Significant Career Progression: Aarti secured 3 promotions in the span of 7 years with her firm, including a relocation to the regional office within her first 2 years with the firm - something highly unusual. That provided clear evidence of her career growth, and helped positioned her as a very strong applicant. Importantly, she led her career proactively, having consistently taken on more challenging roles and delivered impactful results.
  3. Present Clear and Actionable Career Goals: Despite the short essay allocated to the post-MBA goals (100 words), it is crucial to articulate well-defined career goals - it’s all about finding the right balance between achievable goals and ambition. 

By effectively addressing these areas, using all seven essays, we were able to build a highly powerful application package for Aarti, and we felt confident that it would be sufficient to overcome her subpar GMAT score. 


Aarti received an offer at INSEAD (her number one school) with scholarship. 


Her success story underscores the importance of strategic planning, clear vision crafting, and leveraging unique strengths to overcome challenges in the MBA application process. She also demonstrated that with the right coaching and guidance, meeting a short deadline is entirely feasible. After all, our record is 9 schools in 9 days, resulting in offers from both GSB and Booth for the applicant.

Words from Aarti:

"Jonathan helped me to cut down the fluff to get to the crux of the essays. He helped me to orient myself to figure out the key points that stand out in my profile which need to be highlighted in the essays. And he gave me the confidence that despite a relatively lower score, I still had a great chance to succeed so I should give it a shot."

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