ISB Admission

ISB PGP – Letter of Recommendation Tips

A recommendation letter is one of the most important part of your application to ISB. Each applicant of the PGP program at ISB has to choose one recommender who can provide insights into the applicant’s abilities.


The letter of recommendation has a greater influence on getting an admit at ISB. It is an opportunity to prove your capability to the admissions committee.

So, this raises a few questions:

  • What makes the letter of recommendation so important in the ISB admissions process?
  • Who should you choose to be your recommender?
  • When should you approach the recommender?

We will discuss these questions in detail in this article.

First, let’s understand what impact does the letter of recommendation creates in getting an admit at ISB.

Impact of recommendation letter in getting an admit at ISB

“Submitting a strong recommendation letter is an important part of your PGP application. Through this letter, Admission officers gain a clearer picture of your professional experience, achievements, initiatives and contributions.”

Vikram Singh,CEO & Chief Mentor at ISBmantra, Former Manager, Admissions & Financial Aid, ISB PGP/EEO/YLP

The recommender has to provide information on your strengths, achievements, leadership qualities, and areas of improvement. This gives a snapshot of your potential, which helps in determining whether you will be a good fit for the PGP program at ISB.

Now that you know the importance of a recommendation letter, let’s discuss how to choose the recommender.

How to choose a recommender?

Selecting the recommender plays a vital role in the application process. You must choose a recommender who is impacted by your work. His/Her recommendation will provide deeper insights. Remember the quality of evaluation is far more important than the designation of the recommender. Here are some points to consider when you choose the recommender:

Once you are clear about whom to choose as your recommender, the next step is to decide when to reach out to the recommender.

When should you approach the recommender?

It is always better to start early. The recommender may have busy schedules, may have high workloads, travel plans, vacations which could affect their attention from the recommendation, so give them sufficient time by providing advance notice.

The more time they get, it will be easy for the recommender to gather their thoughts to provide the best evaluation of you. So always reach out to the recommender early and also send a gentle reminder closer to the deadline.

You can change the recommender at any time before the deadline if the one who agreed early is not able to participate due to unavoidable situations. You need to contact the ISB admissions team to make the changes which may take about 24 hours to effect the changes.

Let us discuss further how to submit the letter of recommendation. Though you won’t be submitting the recommendation letter yourself, it is better to know about it so that you can provide the information to your recommender.

How to submit the ISB letter of recommendation

  1. When you fill the application, you have to choose a person as your recommender
  2. You need to fill details of their name, designation and official mail id
  3. Once you submit the application, ISB will send an evaluation form to the recommender along with the instructions to fill the form
  4. These forms has be filled and submitted by the recommender directly to ISB

The evaluation form can be submitted online or offline. 

Online evaluation: The recommender will be sent a link to the evaluation form, which he/she has to fill out and submit online. 

Offline evaluation: The recommender will receive an evaluation form and a link to upload the form. He/She has to download the form, fill the answers, sign it, scan it and upload the form in PDF format.

The recommender have to submit the letter of recommendation before the deadline of that particular round. ISB application deadline, you can check the deadlines for each round of PGP in this article.

Here are some sample ISB PGP letters of recommendation for you to get a better idea.

ISB Letter of Recommendation

Sample 1

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the candidate.
[Candidate] was a technical lead in my team at XYZ Corporation. Being the solutions architect for the project I was responsible for overall implementation delivery. Since [Candidate] was also part of the discussion regarding implementation strategy and was closely involved in building the deliverables, we had continuous interaction over the course of the 4-year project on various aspects of the project like design discussions, weekly status updates on the build, anticipating challenges owing to frequent change in requirements, prepping up the team for getting ready for production deployment and post-production support phase.

  1. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well qualified individuals in similar roles?
[Candidate] was clearly ahead of other individuals in the areas mentioned above, as compared to professionals that were not just in similar roles, but also in higher roles. I have seen people in higher roles in my earlier employment. I feel that the key reason why he tends to stand apart and excel over others is because he continuously tries to improve himself and do better. It could be delivering something that is technically better as a solution or stretching in order to make sure that a certain commitment to the client was met in its entirety. In other words, it is his attitude that kept him doing well, despite the fact that there were other individuals in the team, who had far more IT experience than he had.  There was a time in the project when we were facing issues with the senior resources working on a contract with us. The contracting company had terminated the contract in the middle which saw our team of 20 resources attrition to 10 which had resulted in a loss of morale for other junior resources in the team. Anticipating an impact to the project timeline, leading from the front, often working for 12-15 hours even on weekends, he shouldered the bulk of additional workload that had fallen on the teams to ensure the project stays on the timeline. His dedication inspired the team to put in extra efforts on weekends and thereby compensate for the loss of resources.  He also devised a creative approach to compensate for the loss of 10 resources bulk of whom were working on ODI technology. His strategy ensured that the team working on SOA technology was able to work independently of the ODI resources thereby removing bottlenecks ensuring smooth progress and obviating the need for the weekend work.  

His international higher education, coupled with work experience handling teams across various geographies, evidently helped him to act in a far more mature manner than what can be normally expected from a person with his level of industry exposure. His demeanor was always one of cooperation, through which, I felt, he laid out a strong example for others to follow. Observing this, I consistently felt that [Candidate] has strong potential to perform leadership roles successfully. An example of leadership that I witnessed was when work was drying up in the core technologies in which he & his team were experienced (SOA & ESB) and the volume of incoming work on another technology (ODI) was rising. [Candidate] took the initiative to get himself trained in ODI and also got his entire team to learn ODI. They started delivering on ODI within a few weeks, which was pleasantly surprising. 

  1. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given to the candidate.

There were actually multiple instances where I gave him feedback on how to manage the team, how to address any concerns that individual developers had, and above all, how to ensure that all team members could appreciate the growth prospects for their career by remaining in the company. (As it is, the IT landscape is extremely competitive, and the skills involved in the project, viz. SOA, ESB and ODI, are very much in demand). However, the most important piece of constructive feedback that I gave to [Candidate] was to focus more on the strategic aspects of the task and develop the right skills to be able to delegate tasks, maintaining the same level of accountability from the team as he presents himself. [Candidate]’s reaction to my feedback was quite positive and accepting. I could feel that he was not blindly absorbing my feedback, but at the same time, he was ready to give it careful thought. He formed a core team of top performers in his team and mentored them to take up some of the responsibilities that he was performing. While delegating some of the tasks to the team, he facilitated the required training to individuals based on their needs. His appreciation of the team members’ efforts and periodic touch bases ensured that the team’s morale remained high and the core team was able to handle the new tasks effectively rather than being overwhelmed by them.

  1. Is there anything else we should know?

I found [Candidate] to be a very capable professional. Not only was he technically good; he was also pretty good with his team leading skills. This is evident from the fact that after joining the team as a senior developer he soon assumed the role of the technical lead for the team despite having a lesser experience than most of the team members. The key reasons for being able to get elevated fast were his strong technical abilities, high levels of availability & dependability, and also his ability to lead the other developers by example. 

Apart from that, he also developed a good reputation with the client’s team. There were multiple instances where the client specifically requested for [Candidate] to lead the effort of a time-critical and complex piece. On one such instance, [Candidate] was about to go on an approved week-long PTO when on the day before his departure, the client requested him to be assigned to a critical change request that was earlier assigned to a different vendor but had got delayed and was causing a lot of issues for the client leadership. Because of the urgency of the issue [Candidate] had to cancel his plans and return to work. He was not only able to finish the work on time, but also improved the performance on the critical process by about 50%. For his dedication, the client offered to compensate him by sponsoring a fully paid vacation.

[Candidate] is highly focused on his career. He always eyed leadership roles.  After having done that for a few years, he is now seeking to enroll in a formal MBA program, which is in line with his endeavor to develop his managerial and core business skills. My best wishes for all his efforts!

Sample 2

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. 

I, Shamsher Singh, joined [Company Name] Analytics in 2015 as a Manager. [Candidate Name] joined [Company Name] Analytics in 2014 and he was assigned to my team of analysts from the day 1 of my joining. We have worked together on various projects on primary searching and IP analytics and have completed them successfully. As his direct supervisor, I have followed his performance closely and interacted with him on a daily basis over the last 3 years.

  1. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? 
[Candidate Name]’s principal strengths have been his perfectionist attitude, attention to detail, and meticulous planning. He usually takes more time while scoping a project, which I feel is uncommon among his peers,  drilling down into every aspect of the project, be it technology domain or client requirements, to look microscopically into all the details and prepare a project workflow accordingly. His style of working takes into account all the future contingencies that we might face during the project execution. His dedication towards work and an attitude of project ownership makes him stand out amongst his peers. From stretching late into the night, in order to make sure that a certain commitment to the client was met, to planning his vacations so that it does not affect critical ongoing projects, he has always kept the best interests of the company before anything. I can confidently say that [Candidate Name] is clearly ahead of other individuals in the areas mentioned above, as compared to professionals that were not just in similar roles, but also in higher roles.

I remember an instance when [Candidate Name] was assigned a technology landscape study on Driver Assisting Technologies. The project came from one of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturers with whom [Company Name] had been trying to build a rapport for some time. This was the perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise to the client and build a long lasting relationship. Successful delivery of this project would win us a contract for 3 more landscape studies costing $120k in total. The project was a mix of mechanical and electronics. Moreover, the project proved to be very challenging as the client requested us to increase the scope without increasing cost, so the actual effort came out to be huge as compared to what was initially planned. Since we were hoping to build a long-term relationship with the client, the project was approved and the onerous task of delivering the project with double the effort but with the same quality and within the same allotted time was on [Candidate Name]’s shoulder. He, methodically, broke the project into smaller modules and collaborated with other teams to get the parts done from them while using his searching and analytical skills to complete major parts of the project himself. He completed the project with the desired quality outcome and took marginally low additional time which was a commendable job as such a project would have required double the time taken for its completion. Due to his performance, the project was a success. The client was satisfied and approved the other 3 projects as well.

  1. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. (Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.)

There were multiple instances where I gave him feedback, However, the most important piece of constructive feedback that I gave to [Candidate Name] was on his reluctance in delegating a task to another colleague. There was an instance when [Candidate Name] was working on 3 different projects simultaneously- 1 landscape study and 2 patentability searches. All 3 projects were time-critical and there was just enough time to complete the projects but required him to work during weekends. On enquiring about why he was not willing to take the help of other analysts he cited his previous experience of delegating a task and ultimately spending more time in rectifying the work he delegated to his colleague. This had created a blockade in his mind. Having set high personal standards for himself and his willingness to take on complex projects, he was seen stretched in too many areas in more than 1 instance.  

I advised him to not just delegate the task but also constantly engage with the team member, review the work intermittently and, if required, transfer the right skills to complete the task at the very beginning itself rather than expecting the final output in the end. [Candidate Name]’s response to my feedback was warm and accepting. He started off by delegating simpler tasks that were easy to cross-examine. His positive attitude and seriousness towards the feedback were observed when he came back to discuss his experience and further elaborated his plans to engage juniors in more complex tasks. Taking one step at a time, [Candidate Name]’s working style changed from working in silo to working in a team and leading it. He can be regularly observed training team members and new joiners, reviewing their projects, and clarifying their doubts. He understands the limitations of resources, people, and their availability and plans effectively to prevent any undue pressure on the team, earning him credibility and respect from the whole team. 

  1. Is there anything else we should know?

Over the last 3 years that I’ve known [Candidate Name], his quest for exploring challenging projects and building knowledge has enabled him to develop a sharp analytical mindset and a research-oriented approach to problem-solving. I have seen him polish his skills and swiftly move towards playing a lead role in complex projects, managing them end-to-end with complete ownership.

Besides his professional skills, [Candidate Name] has great interpersonal skills with his attitude to take initiatives in strengthening morale amongst colleagues. In 2015, when it was announced to demerge IP and Science business of Thomson Reuters to form an independent company ([Company Name] Analytics), the general sentiment in the employees was at an all-time low. There was a churn going on throughout the company and we witnessed the highest ever attrition rate. A team-bonding event was much needed in this gloomy environment. Realizing the general low morale of people in different teams, [Candidate Name] proposed the idea of an offsite. We had the budget for an offsite but no Admin support to plan and organize it due to the organizational changes that the company was going through. 

Not only did [Candidate Name] propose the idea of an offsite, but he also led the complete execution of the same. He formed a team consisting of people from various departments and hierarchy levels and worked enthusiastically in arranging everything from location planning to negotiations with the travel agencies, accommodations, transportation, refreshments, etc. The most commendable quality of [Candidate Name] that came to light during the off-site planning was his ability to accommodate opinions from all stakeholders. Since it was a self-organized trip, we had opinions and suggestions pouring in from all directions, and to be able to prepare a common ground for a team of 70 people is definitely praiseworthy. His gentle behaviour and sensitivity towards others made him the go-to guy for every eventuality during the trip. His coordination of the team demonstrated his leadership skills completely out of work context. Even till today, our office off-site of 2015 has been the best so far and has given us memories to cherish forever. 

[Candidate Name] is a highly motivated and compassionate individual. He possesses a healthy blend of professional and interpersonal skills, which makes him suitable for a managerial position. His skills, coupled with a formal management education to build business acumen, will take him a long way in his career to lead organizations from the front.

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