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Insider Tips on the Top European MBA Programs: London Business School, INSEAD & IE

We’ve summarized the highlights and key insights from our recent live strategy session: Decoding the Essays for the Top European MBA Programs.


This includes top application tips and essay advice for London Business School, INSEAD and IE Madrid by former directors of admissions at each respective school. Get a glimpse of the detail contained in the hour-long strategy session, or view the video recording, which includes a question and answer session with prospective candidates.


Fortuna Director Emma Bond is former London Business School Senior Manager of MBA Admissions.  Emma’s top five tips on positioning your successful application to LBS, include:

1. Convey your passion for LBS.

“In this competitive environment, the admissions office is constantly looking for evidence of your commitment to the school.”

2. Remember that ‘global’ is not just a word, it’s a culture.

“It’s no longer enough just to state confidently that you’ve backpacked across Europe – the admissions committee will be closely scrutinizing your application to see exactly what global flavor you’ll bring to the new class.”

3. Contribution to the program and alumni network

“Admissions will want to understand how you will play a role on-campus and how you envision contributing.”

4. It’s not just a finance school.

“LBS has a strong tradition in finance, but ongoing rankings success has ensured that the admissions pipeline – and consequently graduate career choice – is becoming increasingly diverse.”

5. Demonstrating collegiality.

“Teamwork is key and students actively work to support each other in weaker coursework elements.”

Emma also offers her insights on LBS’s two required essays from three angles:

  • What is LBS looking for? What key points must I include?
  • How can I stand out from other applicants?
  • What pitfalls should I avoid?


Fortuna Director Caroline Diarte Edwards, former INSEAD director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid is joined by expert coach Nonie Mackie, former INSEAD assistant director. Caroline and Nonie’s top five tips for a standout INSEAD application:

1. Demonstrate interest beyond your own borders.

“Not everyone at INSEAD has a lot of international experience. But you must be able to

demonstrate your ability to fit in well in an incredibly diverse environment, with qualities such as openness, flexibility, curiosity about other cultures, interpersonal skills, maturity – all these elements help.”

2. Differentiate a common profile.

“If you have a common profile, then you need to be strong across all elements of the application, including your academic profile, professional track record, international experience, and activities and achievements outside of work or study. Try to find some element to your profile that can differentiate you.”

3. Career-changers need to hit the ground running.

“Most INSEAD students are making some significant change in their career… but the 10-month program does not give you a lot of time for mulling over infinite options. Be ready to make decisions about your future direction fairly quickly, and to juggle an intensive academic schedule with an ongoing and regular investment of time in your job search.”

4. Showcase your international experience.

“International experience is an advantage, but you need to do more than just enumerate your trips or stays abroad. INSEAD wants to see that you have learned from these experiences, that you have gained cultural sensitivity and interesting insights.”

5. Have a credible career vision.

“There are always several students with non-business backgrounds, but you need to demonstrate that you have a clear rationale for taking the… The school has to be convinced that you have the skills and drive to make a big career change work.”

Caroline and Nonie also discusses their insights on INSEAD’s four career questions and three motivation essays, along with tangible tips for how to tackle them.


Fortuna expert coach Lisa Bevill is former MBA Admissions Director of IE. Here are Lisa’s top tips for framing your IE application in a way that’s compelling and credible.

1. Share your unique story. 

“Showcasing your unique story is extremely important – the admissions committees read hundreds if not thousands of applications and it’s critical to be able to share that uniqueness and who you are and finding a way to position that and throughout your application.”

2. Highlight your personal values, purpose and passions.

“What really drives you and motivates you? IE wants to know who you are and how you’re going to fit into this community.”

3. Demonstrate your entrepreneurial mindset.

“There’s a lot of entrepreneurial thinking happening, and many people come together to share ideas about new business ventures or about sustainable developments in many different arenas… Whether or not you’ve started your own company or venture, how do you bring a spirit of innovating thinking and learning?’

4. Showcase the learning from your professional and personal experiences.

‘Throughout the application, be sure to demonstrate that you’re learning from your professional and personal experiences – a growth mindset; without the learning, it’s just an accumulation of experience.’

5. Authenticity is key.

‘It’s very clear when you can see just bland scripted essays, and that’s quite sad, because you have a good this wonderful opportunity to showcase something true and uniquely yours.’

Lisa also delves into IE’s personal essay and live questions sessions, offering a strategy for putting your best foot forward.

View the a recording of the hour-long strategy session.



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