NEWS | What it’s like to apply for an SMF scholarship

Published On: Wednesday, 5th Jun 2024


Applying for a scholarship can be daunting if you don’t know what’s involved.

Our partners at the Royal Academy of Engineering have produced a guide to support you through any application, but some of our recent Sainsbury Management Fellows scholarship awardees talk through how they found the experience of applying.

David MacDonald (Imperial College Business School)

I applied for an earlier SMF scheme application round and was not selected to go to interview. This was a bit of a knock to my confidence however after asking for feedback I understand I missed the mark in my initial application and was able to apply for a future round with a much stronger application that was ultimately successful in getting to the interview stage. My main tip to any applicants is don’t undersell yourself!

Hassan Nasir (INSEAD)

I found the overall experience from start to finish very rewarding. The introspection has certainly furthered my own resolve for my future goals. At first, I was struggling to condense my presentation for the interview stage to the designated ten minutes. After several iterations as well as very helpful conversations with SMF alumni, I was able to finally formulate an effective response. Also, immensely grateful to the scholarship manager, Lauren Pattle, who was able to offer incredible help from the very beginning of the process.

Chigozie Maryvonne Ukachi (Harvard Business School)

I enjoyed the experience. Though it can be quite daunting, I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on my failure, the lessons I had learnt from it and how I have been successfully applying those lessons.

Utsav Oza (INSEAD)

My experience of applying to the SMF scholarship was seamless. During the application process, the SMF team was always quick to guide and answer my queries. In addition, the application questions helped me to reflect on my journey and reinforced my conviction to pursue the MBA. After the final interview, the panel members provided me with valuable feedback and guidance on how I can make an impact by combining my previous experiences with MBA.

Sanyam Mahajan (INSEAD)

The application process wasn’t challenging itself, but it did challenge my MBA narrative, making me dive deeper into the why’s and the how’s of my choices. It was very convenient to reach out to the scholarships manager, which was super helpful for me. Interestingly, I could still apply for the scholarship even after starting my MBA programme.

Shrilekha Appicharla (INSEAD)

I had a positive experience applying through the scholarship application as there was sufficient guidance available on the criteria of the award to help formulate the answers. SMF alumni were also able to provide guidance and I am thankful for their support throughout the process. As an engineer who loves to be in the detail, I initially found it challenging to be concise with my answers to the application questions. However, a thorough introspection allowed me to focus on the key messages I wanted to communicate and answer the application more succinctly. I would encourage future applicants to also consider the key achievements they want to highlight and focus their application on those.

Giovanni Sobrero (Imperial College Business School)

My experience was seamless, I applied on the website and within a couple of weeks I was notified of the next steps and within a week of my final interview I was notified that I had been chosen as an awardee. Special mention to Lauren Pattle at the Royal Academy of Engineering, as she was very responsive during the overall process and very helpful with any questions I had. Finally, a note to the SMF alumni, I was surprised by the availability and extreme support received from the alumni during the process.

Lynda Nwike (Harvard Business School)

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of applying. Everyone I had the pleasure of engaging with was very supportive and responsive. For me the application was in many ways integral to the larger process of applying for an MBA. The SMF application forces you to continue to reflect on what should already be a highly reflective time as you apply to schools. What I found most interesting is the many facets I realised my aspirations had.

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