Posted on August 15, 2020

Case Study #4: Tale of a Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, and INSEAD Admit

Prospective applicants are always curious to know what it takes for people to receive admission offers from the world's top MBA programs.  There is no magic formula for success. It takes years of hard work, perseverance, focus, drive, positivity, and faith in oneself to realize your dreams. Mansi Dhiman, a former MER client, embodies all these qualities. Harvard was Mansi's dream school ever since she started thinking of going to business school. She partnered with us for her application for 5 top MBA programs -Kellogg, Wharton, INSEAD, Stanford, and Harvard and received admit offers from all of them. Mansi chose Harvard- her dream school.

The present case study showcases Mansi's background, brief career history, extracurricular activities, career goals, and highlights of our work together that led to her phenomenal success. It also includes links to Mansi's two interviews with us. In the first interview, she shares her application strategy, planning, and preparation, and in the second interview, she shares her first-year experiences at HBS.

And now presenting Mansi:


Name: Mansi Dhiman

Age: 27

Country: India

Academic: Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering

Institute: Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Industry: Oil and gas

GMAT score: 770

Work Experience: 5 years

Her USP: Her ambition, drive, and hard work

Brief Career History:

Mansi is a civil engineer who graduated from a premier engineering institute in India, IIT, Delhi. She also did her 12-week internship at New Castle University. Mansi’s career demonstrated a fast career trajectory. Starting her career with Schlumberger as a field engineer (offshore), she gained expertise in one vertical of the oil and gas industry operations. After a year, she went to Indonesia (as the only ex-pat) for ten months to work on an oil rig amid grueling and sometimes unsafe work conditions.

To experience other verticals of the industry and grow, she joined Cairn India as Petroleum Engineer operations and worked her way up to receive two promotions in three years. At her pre-MBA job as Lead Petroleum Engineer, she was leading strategy and planning of equipment and resources for all offshore and onshore rigless operations, negotiating contracts, and managing a budget of $50-70MM/year for equipment selection and learned about the techno-commercial aspect of the industry. In recognition of her accomplishments, she won many awards i.e., Learn Project, GEM, and POB.

A Civil Engineer by degree, Mansi did not come from a petroleum background. However, through hands-on learning and hard work, she worked hard to enhance her technical and commercial knowledge of the industry and went on to receive promotions sooner than her peers.

Extracurricular Activities:

Mansi taught Math and Science to the underprivileged students at Kendriya Vidyalayas for eight years. She has varied interests. She is a certified scuba Open Water Scuba Diver and has recorded 19 dives at six different locations in India, Maldives, and Thailand. She is also trained in Indian classical dance Kathak and has performed at school, college, and professional dance events since her childhood.

Career Goals:

Pursuing her passion in the energy sector, Mansi aspires to be a leader in the oil and gas industry, and drive the transformation towards renewable energy for sustainable development. She envisions to lead a Global Clean Energy firm to make a positive impact on the company, country, and its people.


Our most significant challenge was to provide her best guidance that would procure her a seat in her dream business school, Harvard. Mansi had reached out to 5-6 consultants before us,  and they all discouraged her from applying to Harvard, Stanford, and other top programs. Instead, they advised her to apply to ‘safe schools’. However, after assessing her profile, we didn’t find anything lacking in her profile, so we encouraged her to aim for her dream business school Harvard along with other top programs in the US and Europe.

MER’s Approach: 

To gain an in-depth understanding of his profile, we first administered a questionnaire of 20 questions about her background, values, professional career, accomplishments, leadership experiences, career goals, extracurricular activities, and interests. After scrutinizing all her personal and professional stories, we started working together on her application to showcase her candidacy for her five target business schools –Wharton, Kellogg, INSEAD, HBS, and Stanford.

Some of the key highlights of our work together are:

  1. Mansi wanted to apply to Harvard in Round 1, but we discouraged her from targeting Harvard first.  She had approached us in July, and the Harvard deadline was in September first week. So, we advised her to focus on Harvard in the second round. We had two reasons for this advice. First, Harvard’s open-ended question requires significant self-reflection, so she would need time to brainstorm stories to figure out what exactly she would want to tell the HBS admission committee that other parts of the application did not cover. Secondly, working on schools that require straightforward essay questions would provide her more clarity and confidence about her experience and writing abilities and prepare her to tackle Harvard’s open-ended question and Stanford’s ‘What matters most to you’ question. (Mansi says this is the most valuable advice we gave her.)
  2. Mansi agreed to target Wharton and Kellogg in the first round and Harvard and Stanford in the second round. INSEAD deadline fell in the middle of Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines, so we targeted INSEAD before picking up Harvard. Moreover, INSEAD’s massive application further prepared her for Harvard and Stanford.
  3. We assisted Mansi in showcasing her candidacy in line with the mission and values of her target programs. We helped her select the right stories/ experiences that highlighted her analytical skills, international experience (in a male-dominated industry), cultural adaptability, drive, and clarity about career goals.
  4. Also, we advised Mansi to guide her recommenders in choosing the right examples/ accomplishments from work that illustrate her leadership skills, analytical skills, and willingness to go above and beyond her defined role, setting her apart from her peers.
  5.  Lastly, and most importantly, we supported her with our words of encouragement and positivity.


Mansi received admits from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, and INSEAD. Without a second thought, she chose her dream school HBS. Her strong technical background, coupled with her rich leadership experience and resolve to be a future leader who will make a difference in her industry, earned her a seat at the five top business schools.

MER’s views: 

Mansi Dhiman was a joy to work with. An exceptionally brilliant candidate, she is a unique blend of professional excellence, academic ability, leadership, drive, focus, and personal qualities of hard work and resilience. Her constant endeavor to make a positive impact is striking and sets her apart. She can turn a challenge into an opportunity- a sure shot mantra of success. She has clarity regarding her career goals and is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Manasi has always been proactive in taking the initiative; she is a team player who has an eye for detail.

Mansi was quick in editing and reverting the revised essays, always adhering to the tight timelines. She gave detailed and precise answers to the questionnaire provided by MER. which helped us suggest relevant stories to present her candidacy for different schools.

Lastly, and most importantly, we admire her for her respectful behavior, positivity, confidence without attitude, and calm demeanor.  We are delighted with her exemplary success and wish her luck for her future endeavors. Mansi graduated from HBS this summer.

Here is the link to Mansi’s feedback on our services.

Don’t miss Mansi’s detailed conversation with us, wherein she discusses her background, career goals, application strategy, GMAT prep, challenges during application prep, how she met them, her advice to the prospective applicants, and much more.

After her phenomenal success, many prospective applicants reached out to her for advice. To help them, Mansi participated in a webinar and answered general questions that they had asked her. Here is the recording of the webinar:

Last year, Mansi also took time to share with us her first-year experience at Harvard.

Free Resources:

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Success Stories of MER Students

You may email Poonam at with questions about your application for the 2020-21 admission cycle.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped hundreds of applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs (Poonam is one of the top 5 most  reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)