«With the MBA growth is personal, not only professional»

Achille Balestrini, new Ceo and Global brand manager of Nava Design Milano and MH Way, talks about his professional and educational background, marked by his time at Politecnico. And he explains the importance, even for those who already have experience in the field, to better structure concepts learned with a master’s degree.

From architecture to management, via an entrepreneurial initiative. This is the professional trajectory of Achille Balestrini, alumnus of the part-time international MBA programme at MIP Politecnico di Milano and recently nominated as the new Ceo of Nava Design Milano and MH Way, two companies that are part of the Smemorando Group.
His path was marked by three extremely important elements for those who have decided to make their way in the world of business: passion, competence and resourcefulness. But also from his experience at the Milanese university: «If I chose MIP’s MBA, it’s also because I also got my architecture degree from the Politecnico», says Balestrini. But between graduating and the master’s he pursued a path made up of intuition and personal bets.

Architect, entrepreneur, manager

After his degree and the start of his career in architecture, Balestrini decided to indulge his passion for casual sportswear. «I couldn’t stop thinking about an idea that at the time seemed decidedly innovative, that of a brand that was customizable». It was a winning intuition, because Balestrini devoted his energy to that project for about seven years. «A period of time in which we opened a single-brand store in Milan, different temporary stores and an online shop. All thanks to enthusiasm and a spirit of sacrifice». Yet, these achievements weren’t what Balestrini aspired to, they’re not enough. «I decided to interrupt that entrepreneurial experience. In the meantime, I received an offer from Marco Boglione, founder and chairman of BasicNet, a group that owns brands like Kappa, Superga, K-Way». That’s the moment Balestrini abandoned the entrepreneurial path to become a real manager. «I fell deeply in love with this project I had to follow. This phase lasted from 2011 to 2019. Then, in 2020, I was nominated CEO and Global Brand Manager of Nava Design Milano and MH Way».

An MBA to reinforce skills

In the middle, however, there’s another important passage, that of the MBA. «I was motivated by a personal, more than a professional, need to learn. I had acquired a wealth of empirical knowledge, experimented and learned in the field, but with no study behind it», explains Balestrini. «The master’s helped me, first of all, to put my skills in order, structuring them in a more coherent, organic and strategic way. It was encouraging and motivating to see that many ideas that were formed during my experience were confirmed in lessons». As far as lessons are concerned, the MBA allowed Balestrini to test notions learned in the classroom through project work and group work. «It’s a modality that I have found to be very effective. On one hand, it’s perfect for those who are already at ease working in a group, as in my case. On the other hand, those who have a less pronounced inclination to discuss with others are also encouraged to take part. They are truly formative and stimulating moments».

Nava Design and MH Way: the objective is to relaunch

Strengthened by this experience, and with expertise reinforced and structured by the master’s, Balestrini is now handling the relaunch of Nava Design Milano and MH Way, as CEO and Global Brand Manager. «The curious thing is that they are both brands tied to the world of design and architecture, from which everything started for me. Important designers like Max Huber and Bob Noorda have worked for Nava while MH Way was created by the Japanese designer Makio Hasuike. Both of these companies, acquired by the group Smemoranda, are now looking to relaunch and reposition», explains Balestrini. «To give new life to both brands, I will have to put in practice what I’ve learned up until now. The most important and stimulating challenges involve the corporate management and commercial expansion of the brands on the national territory and, especially, on international markets».

From the fisherman to the customer, via MIP: the case of Orapesce

The study on the food sector. The idea born on the beaches of Rimini. And then the support of MIP, followed by the choice of equity crowdfunding: Giacomo Bedetti, 2016 part-time EMBA alumnus, tells us about the origins of Orapesce, a digital fish market service.

Innovation was born in the classrooms of MIP. Evidence of this is Orapesce, a startup that operates in the fish market by offering its customers the possibility of purchasing fresh fish online that is delivered directly to their homes. «Analysing the performance of the grocery sector, it was evident that the growth of digital consumers in the food sector was a significant trend», explains its founder Giacomo Bedetti, 2016 part-time EMBA alumnus, telling us about the genesis of the project. «Then, talking to a fisherman friend in Rimini, the spark came that led to the idea».

MIP’s added value

Indeed, until the creation of Orapesce, «a digital fish market service didn’t exist», explains Bedetti. «It was an opportunity to be seized immediately, creating a business-oriented group». In the ideation phase, MIP played an extremely important role. «Being able to explore the potential of this idea during the Executive MBA programme I was attending was crucial. Alongside a strong motivational element, there was the contribution of Professor Antonio Ghezzi, who gave us the tools to read the business and the relative metrics. And then we were able to count on the support and experience of skilled professionals». A series of elements that contributed to an excellent start on the market: «The phase of project work for Orapesce ended in July 2018, and we posted revenue of 100,000 euros in 2019. An extraordinary result, that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of MIP».

Equity crowdfunding to boost communicative momentum

At this moment, Orapesce, after 14 months of activity, finds itself in an extremely delicate phase of its life. «It’s the hard reality of startups. Either you grow, or you die», explains Bedetti without mincing words. Growing means achieving significant numbers, and this is often tied to visibility. «It’s one of the reasons we decided to finance this business exploiting the equity crowdfunding model, that allows those enrolled to invest in innovative projects. We succeeded in bringing Orapesce on Mamacrowd, which in Italy is the best possible platform for this model». At end February, Orapesce on this platform raised 381% of the minimum set goal, for a total of over 300,000 euros. «But the economic factor isn’t everything», reveals Bedetti. «For Orapesce, Mamacrowd was a commercial showcase. It’s not easy to gain the attention of 100,000 contacts, instead in this way we were able to take advantage of a real flywheel effect».

Goal: become a marketplace

Those who have visited the site of Orapesce will have realized that it’s not limited to being a shop, but also proposes a series of contents to users. «Our goal in this stage is to establish a brand that sells fish. But this is only the first step», explains Bedetti. «What we really aim for is the strengthening of a marketplace that puts consumers and producers in contact. In our future development there is a model in which earnings will be based mainly on commissions on exchanges within this network». For this reason, the site is rich in interviews with chefs and fishermen: «We want to use the possibilities of new devices to offer a path to the consumer, and to establish a strong digital identity».

The importance of soft skills

And if within Orapesce the importance of digital goes hand in hand with that of logistics, we must not neglect the general management skills that allowed Bedetti to create this startup. «I’m not talking so much about hard skills, but of soft ones. I attended the Executive MBA programme as someone over 40, I already had a lot of experience behind me. I didn’t need another title, but I felt the need to improve myself. That’s why I chose this master’s programme. There’s nothing more valuable than soft skills: knowing how to negotiate, knowing how to build relationships, being a good leader, today, are essential skills for those who aspire to become a manager or an

Global Business Services: the GBS Certification Program comes to MIP

Filippo Passerini, considered one of the world’s top experts in Global Business Services, illustrates the advantages of a GBS strategy.

A strategy aimed at large companies, thanks to which it’s possible to reduce costs by exploiting economies of scale, freeing up resources from the most repetitive tasks and transforming their business model: «It basically is a matter of aggregating services within a company, when these are dispersed or duplicated in different organizations. This is the essence of GBS (Global business services)», explains Filippo Passerini, director of the GBS Certification Program for MIP Politecnico di Milano.

GBS explained by professionals in the sector

«I had the fortune to build and manage GBS in Procter & Gamble (P&G) for over 12 years. Our business benefited enormously, both in terms of cost reduction and innovation. I would now like to create value for other companies and for individuals, sharing knowledge and skills», explains Passerini. «I’m very satisfied to be able to work with MIP for this programme: it offers an infrastructure that allows you to effectively go to the market and certifies the educational rigor of contents. The latter will be developed by Inixia».
Inixia is a consulting service whose advisors all have concrete experience with GBS and shared services: «They are people who, like me, had worked for P&G, whose GBS model is considered to be a real benchmark. Inixia was created with the aim of setting up a certification programme that allows people to obtain a qualification in this area».
Indeed, GBS can’t be improvised, warns Passerini: «There is a specific sequence of steps to follow, that leads to better results more quickly. There’s a strategy to follow and this is also why it’s important to gain specific skills».
At the same time, the numbers speak clearly: in 2018 the value of the global shared services market amounted to 56 billion dollars, a figure that is expected to double by 2025.
Equally tangible are the advantages for companies: a cost reduction of up to 50%, together with a tripling in value creation. The areas of application involve almost all of a company’s operational services and processes, in any sector: finance, human resources, supply chain, purchasing, IT, marketing and sales processes, customer and consumer service centres.

GBS and the digital transformation

It would be wrong, however, to think that GBS, by now with a twenty-year history behind it, is a static strategy. Just think of the impact the digital transformation has had on the organizational structure of companies. «Digital is a great resource», explains Passerini. «The current organization of companies forces us to use resources, human and material, in low value-added but necessary operational processes. For example, the billing cycle, payments to suppliers, or salaries for employees and many other internal processes: they’re essential activities, but consist of repetitive steps that don’t add value to the core business. GBS is an excellent platform for the digital transformation: these processes can be automated and further optimized by applying new technologies. In this way, efficiency and effectiveness are increased, resources are freed up for more strategic tasks. The benefits can vary widely, from “simple” cost reduction to an engine for innovation of the operational model. And that’s where expertise becomes important».

How the GBS Certification Program is structured

It is for this reason, then, that the GBS Certification programme was created for MIP. «These are short online classes lasting from six to 12 hours», explains Passerini. «The course is structured in five levels. It starts with the Foundation level, which addresses the basic principles of GBS. This is followed by what we have called pillars: Service Management, Operations Management, Transformation. At the end, there’s the Leadership level, after which you obtain certification. We conceived it a little bit like a path that follows a sort of managerial seniority, aimed both at those are at the beginning of their experience or in more operational roles, both senior managers and GBS leaders. It’s a real process of professionalization, to use an English term that I find very appropriate in this case. The goal is to train highly competent people».

Insights from an international MBA – part 2

An international format for an MBA program provides an additional experience that is not limited to learning new subjects or theoretical/practical concepts. Meeting people from all around the world creates a mixture of points of view which enriches the experience at MIP. Let’s hear it directly in the words of my friends and colleagues on the i-Flex program, Claudio Miguel Jamisse Buque from Mozambique and Heidemarie Haupt from Italy.

Why did you decide to pursue an international MBA program?

Claudio: I am an Electrical Engineer by training, and I have been working for almost 9 years in project development and implementation in sub-Saharan Africa. An international MBA program complements my current set of skills and experience. Through this course, I am able to gain a unique mix of skills needed to advance my career in management. I am able to understand the business aspects behind the projects that I work on, making me a valuable asset to the teams that I am part of. In addition, the international program places a lot of emphasis on and exposure to global challenges, which one would not experience through a non-international MBA. This is important for expanding the geographic range of my experience.
Finally, MIP’s i-Flex program has the added advantage of being online, which allows me to continue my professional activities and gives me enough freedom to balance my time between classes, family and work life. The program allows for interaction and networking between students from all parts of the globe, making this a good opportunity to turn my professional network into a global one.

What do you think are the main advantages of an international environment?

Claudio: In an international environment you develop an appreciation for diversity. Diversity comes in many forms ̶ culture, religion ̶ but most importantly, in the way of thinking. Through diverse teams in an international environment, I have experienced a broader and more open-minded approach to problem solving. During the interactions with my colleagues, I am developing an admiration for different ways of solving problems and a better understanding of the term collaboration. Being in an international environment it is also easier to relate to the impacts of global crises, not only in the society you live in but in the entire world.

How can this i-Flex program provide support in making an international contribution?

Claudio: The i-Flex program class is geographically diverse, with students residing in five different continents. The program is taught on an online platform that enables international collaboration. Contributions are encouraged and productive discussions between professors and students always occur across different countries, sometimes in different time zones. The topics for discussion are also international, meaning they usually touch on a range of countries. The platform supports this collaboration across countries in a modern and virtual way. This means the solutions we propose or discuss originate from a truly multinational contribution.

How might a multicultural environment impact your personal and professional life during classes?

Claudio: A multicultural environment is an important attribute for the international MBA. While discussing and solving cases, students develop the soft skills required to succeed in multicultural environments. In my professional life it will help me to adapt more easily to the challenges that a multicultural environment creates, and in my personal life it will help me to take advantage of the opportunities that arise in the context of multicultural networks. In both cases, I can see only positive outcomes to being exposed to a multicultural environment.

What do you expect this program will bring to your life after graduation?

Claudio: Primarily, I look forward to acquiring the hard and soft skills required for growing and succeeding as a manager. These skills will contribute to my professional prosperity, be it in my current position or future placements. Additionally, the friends made and strong relationships built with colleagues are of great value, both in my professional and personal life. I expect to maintain the international connections and to continue to develop close-knit friendships that will benefit my personal and professional life.

In case you missed the quite talk with Heidimarie and would like to know her experience, read her interview and find out her point of view on the international experience offered by i-Flex.

About the author
Vito Conversano

Student of the International Flex Executive MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano.
Chief Information Officer @ San Marzano Vini SpA with extensive international experience in IT & strategic consultancy for fortune 500 companies. Creative, Curious, Travel lover. Passionate about discovering new concepts, learning continuously and developing new ideas.


When finance rhymes with innovation. Welfin introduces itself

An idea, project work, a startup: Welfin’s story progressed from the classrooms of MIP to the financial market thanks to its strong innovative imprint. It will be the first P2P loan platform with credit guaranteed by a company to be launched on the market. Its founders tell about the project.

«In Italy the consumer credit market is constantly expanding and P2P (peer to peer) loans continue to have great potential». Why not start from this and rethink credit between private players in a new intra and inter-corporate perspective? This is the reflection from which Ideo Righi, Francesco Giordani, Alessandra Bellerio and Roberto Bertani, founders of Welfin, as well as 2018 Part-time EMBA alumni, began.
Welfin is a platform that revolutionizes credit between employees, allowing one or more company communities to obtain the maximum from sharing their resources. In the words of its five founders, «Welfin brings together lender, borrower and company (acting as guarantor) by promoting the creation of favourable conditions for all players involved». Let’s take a closer look.

A business model in which all parties are in agreement

In a consumer credit market with interest rates that tend towards the high side, credit concession policies on the part of companies are often cautious and the cost of debt collection expensive. «Welfin steps in, creating a virtuous circle that rewards the three players involved, lender, borrower and company, through a win-win-win system» explains Francesco. «Win for the lender, because they have a guaranteed return from the company at above-market rates; win for the borrower because they also obtain favourable rates and win for the company, which acting as a guarantor, increases the sense of belonging of its employees and improves its reputation», continues Alessandra. «Welfin offers the company a new welfare instrument with which to optimize the management of outstanding credit, creating a shared economic benefit by focusing on financial innovation – stresses Ideo -. There are already many entrepreneurs who, aware of the efficiency of Welfin’s business model, want to implement the platform as soon as possible».

Genesis and development of Welfin. From project work to the choice of “doing business”

But what was the starting point? «The observation of an entrepreneurial reality suffering from the insolvency of its employees towards consumer credit institutions allowed us to study a system that could help all parties involved, from the company to employees. We therefore identified a need and devised a solution» explains Ideo. For Alessandra, «the key values that inspired Welfin were ethics, transparency and usefulness for employees». It’s an idea that was first project work for the 2018 Part-time EMBA and then – thanks to the trust and success achieved – became a startup. «When we realized its potential, we decided to “do business”» says Francesco. «We choose each other inside the classroom of the master’s programme, and we created a close-knit, cross-cutting team, with previous business experience and thus a clear perception of risks. A team whose members are on the same wavelength, both in terms of personal and professional growth», comments Alessandra.

Finance awards sustainable innovation

Welfin won the “Fintech & Insurtech 2019” Prize, set up by the Observatory of Politecnico di Milano, for the most innovative projects in the financial field. What were its winning attributes? «A brand-new business model that is able to innovate the financial sector in a sustainable and intelligent way» its creators say. «Thanks to the recognition obtained we’ll begin a period of innovation through PoliHub, at the same time as developing all the aspects necessary to go to market, from tax to legal ones, so as to be ready at the official kick-off».
The company has also begun a dialogue with the Bank of Italy. «We carried out an initial assessment of the regulatory compliance of the business model. An experience that allowed us to confirm and offered food for thought to make it to the go to market phase even more prepared», according to Francesco, Alessandra and Ideo, who conclude by illustrating the role MIP had in this experience and its strengths: «Its network, the professionalism of professors and the enormous support in all phases of product development. The master’s programme guaranteed us an entrepreneurial, highly pragmatic and interactive experience and was also an incubator of talent and open-mindedness for the business application models and leadership development. And we believe Welfin’s business model could be even more effective in the Covid-19 recovery period, when in the face of increased obstacles for consumer credit access, it will provide support for families and individual workers in difficulty».
All there’s left to do is to (re)start.

From energy to art: the success of Itisartime

The experience of two alumni of the Master in Energy Management programme who together manage Itisartime, an Instagram page with half a million followers. From their meeting in the classrooms of MIP to the development of an entrepreneurial mentality, following the concepts of progress, innovation and change.

What’s the relation between a Master in Energy Management from MIP Politecnico di Milano and an Instagram page with over 450,000 followers that talks about art? Apparently none, but in reality, the relationship exists, and it goes beyond the fact that the hosts of Itisartime, Alessandro Brunelli and Andrea Del Moro, are both alumni of the MEM programme. «Art and energy share the concept of progress. Art is by definition creativity, and in turn creativity is innovation and change. And what are the most common words in energy conferences? Progress and revolution», explains Brunelli.

An ongoing project

Itisartime’s experience goes way back. «In part it coincides with my personal story»,  says Brunelli. «At the age of 19 I started to collect small pieces of art that seemed to be talking about me; showing them to everyone on social networks seemed to me an innovative way to tell about myself». A vision that gradually expanded: «When I realized that the world of art was boundless, I decided to go beyond that limit and instead repost all those works that stood out from others. That was the true birth certificate of Itisartime, a project that saw the light in 2015».

The success of the page, which also brought the two to the Affordable Art Fair of Milan, initially took Brunelli by surprise. «I’d never have thought to reach a half million people». Big numbers that require some reflection on the future of the project. And also from this point of view the Master in Energy Management played an important role: «There I met Andrea, who joined the project in a later phase. He has excellent communication skills, a broad commercial and project vision. For all these reasons he came onboard, to transform Itisartime into a more solid reality. We aim to become a reference for the sector», reveals Brunelli.

Five ideas for art in Italy

On the state of art in Italy, and on what concerns its communication and dissemination to the general public, Brunelli has clear ideas: «The potential of our country is enormous, we know it. There are initiatives that I think have represented important steps forward. I’m thinking, for example, of Domenicalmuseo, that brings many people closer to places of art. But also the combination of art and cinema can arouse interest in those who are perhaps tired of the usual exhibits». Obviously, there’s no lack of areas in which it would be possible to do more: «We should maintain and increase subsidies to funds like Fai or to private exhibition spaces, like Hangar Bicocca or Fondazione Prada, to give some examples. The appeal with young people would grow. Secondly, all initiatives should be channelled through an information channel and disseminated. Lastly, try to transform problems in solutions. I’m thinking about street art and urban art: investing on thematic projects could transform acts of vandalism in works, thanks to which you could redevelop peripheral areas».

The added value of the Master in Energy Management programme

Among these and other suggestions, Itisartime looks to the future. And it does so thanks to some lessons that Brunelli and Dal Moro learned during the Master in Energy Management: «I have an engineering background, Andrea an economic one. The first thing a master’s does is to connect people with different backgrounds: it’s from the comparison of points of view and different experiences that good ideas are born. It was a truly lucky meeting, if we think that we now collaborate in a sector so far removed from our training and educational experience. The master’s gave us ideas for professional improvement and more generally of personal development. If today we evaluate job opportunities tied to Itisartime with an entrepreneurial mentality, the credit goes to the MEM», concludes Brunelli.

2020 Full Time MBA: the specialization in Luxury and Design Management

This MBA concentration at MIP aims to give students first-hand exposure to Italy’s luxury sector, with a study tour organized in important productive districts. The goal is to train professionals who are at ease working with the main trends underway.

Understanding the unique characteristics of the Made-in-Italy luxury sector, in order to be able to work in it by both innovating and preserving the tradition of historic brands: it’s the objective of the specialization in Luxury and Design Management, one of the four concentrations that since 2020 allow students in the Full Time MBA programme at MIP Politecnico di Milano to select an area of their choice to study in-depth. «Those who choose the luxury path will be able to discover the secrets of Italian companies, maybe still owned by the founding family, which however have been capable of becoming global leaders in the sector», explains Politecnico di Milano professor Alessandro Brun, Director of the Master in Global Luxury Management (MGLuxM) programme.

Luxury between strategy and operations

Specializations are paths that respond to specific needs of companies, which look for professionals trained in management, but also require more specific expertise. Luxury is one of these areas. «But luxury doesn’t only mean fashion», stresses Brun. «Instead, we mean everything that can be defined as high-end, in any sector. Sports cars, boating, jewellery, design, and furniture. And often foreign students are particularly interested in understanding the profound reasons for the global success of Made in Italy». The teaching methods of the Luxury and Design Management specialization have the same key characteristic of other concentrations: an eminently practical approach. «The first two weeks will have a more traditional start, even if bootcamp mode will already begin in this period, with projects assigned to students to carry out in close contact with company managers. In the first week, we’ll touch on strategic elements: what is luxury, who are the main players and how you compete in this sector, how you carry out a market analysis, how you establish positioning, up to the go-to-market strategy. In the second week, more operational issues are addressed: the sustainability of the supply chain, the different retail models, inventory management, the optimization of supply chain flows».

On the road to discover Made-in-Italy excellence

But it’s especially in the third week that all these elements are truly seen in action. «We have prepared what is a real study tour», says Brun, «a last week of bootcamp conceived and organized as a trip through the Italian productive landscape. We’ll set out from Milan by bus. The first stop will be in the Modena area, a territory with a great production of luxury autos; but there will also be an opportunity to visit a vinegar factory, since balsamic vinegar is also a product with luxury characteristics in the world of food. We’ll then move on to Tuscany, where there are equally interesting districts: leather goods and shoes come to mind. In these years, by the way, we have been working closely with Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo. We also couldn’t skip a few exclusive experiences tied to wine, all accompanied by managers who will talk to us about innovative ideas and business models».

The trends in luxury professions

The objective of this specialization is to contribute to moulding professionals that can take on not only the most traditional roles in the sector, but also those tied to rapidly developing trends. «Let’s think about the centrality of online sales channel in China. By now the use of the web to purchase luxury products is an accepted practice, but you need to be able to manage technological and customer journey elements to guarantee the customer the experience they are looking for», explains Brun. «Not less important is the issue of visibility and traceability: this includes communication, security, the fight against counterfeiting, and sustainability. Luxury companies must design global distribution chains that are a guarantee for purchases. A third issue then involves the challenge of innovation, to implement while maintaining ties to tradition: a luxury good must at the same time be perfectly modern and rich in history. Here you see the ability of those of who know how to manage innovation and design. And a single skill isn’t enough. Several ones are necessary, and you need to know how to integrate them», concludes Brun.

What made my 2020 MBA journey so distinctive from all other MBAs of all times

Why universities call an MBA a journey and why most of the recruiters invite us to enjoy the journey and seize every opportunity.

I left my comfort zone, my country and my well-paid job to pursue personal and professional improvement, I was convinced, it symbolizes a journey as it transforms and evolves you into being a better leader and to explore your hidden potential to do more. in my case to become the CEO of my own company “one day”.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 made it clear that the “2020 MBA” has turned into a real journey, not because of learning the notion of finance, supply chain, logistic, design thinking, entrepreneurship or strategy but because it equipped us with the superpowers of “patience, empathy and empowerment” while we were engaging, empowering and envisioning via a computer screen with Microsoft team. We understood each other adistance, we acted tactfully, we developed emotional intelligence having dealt with  connection problems to even recognize each other’s eyes. We discovered that even though laying off is the short cut to freeze liquidity, it takes leadership and creativity to find a better strategy for maintaining business.

Academia and business training used to lag far behind the volatile and complex business world, introducing principles and talking about ‘80s case studies, but #MIP in the pandemic proves that it’s keeping pace by the real-time examples it uses. We have truly been living in the situation of an ambiguous, uncertain time, and have indeed grasped how agility and working at the speed of insight can stop the disruption. We have sensed how “resilient” business models should be designed to evolve in the instantaneous changes and, accordingly, the importance of a lifetime vision/direction as well as short-term tactics.

More than a “journey”, an MBA

is a perspective to adapt so as to nurture a culture of resilience in each and every day’s business process, building on change management and talent empowerment and taking the lesson learned from the novel coronavirus, that is to look at a pandemic in the same way in which we analyse all our competition to understand our weaknesses better and improve them.

Resistance” makes us sink but “resilience” would let us surf on the torrent of changes and leads us even higher to “make a change Now”.

We Are different!

About the author
Atefeh Khodadi

My name is Atefeh khodadi, I am 32 years old now. I studied industrial engineering in bachelor but I have worked in a totally different arena in marketing for the past 5 years in the FMCG sector. now I am in Milan to navigate professional and personal development goals, studying MBA.

Insights from an international MBA – part 1

An international format for an MBA program provides an additional experience that is not limited to learning new subjects or theoretical/practical concepts. Meeting people from all around the world creates a mixture of points of view which enriches the experience at MIP. Let’s hear it directly in the words of my friends and colleagues on the i-Flex program, Claudio Miguel Jamisse Buque from Mozambique and Heidemarie Haupt from Italy.

Why did you decide to pursue an international MBA program?

Heidemarie: I was at a phase in my life where I felt it was time to pursue a unique opportunity to launch a truly global career. I am persuaded that an effective leader should be curious about the world and eager to learn about other markets, management styles and cultural differences. I already had a solid experience in living and working at corporate level across cultures in companies where background diversity was considered as a pivotal value, so it came quite naturally to me to look for an international environment to engage in my EMBA. I carefully scouted a number of European business schools which offered such an opportunity and finally landed on MIP as the one most suited to me.

What do you think are the main advantages of an international environment?

Heidemarie: When I submitted my motivation letter to the school, my opening paragraph was entitled “with heart and mind wide open”. I think this is fairly self-explanatory with regard to what I expect from an international environment. In business especially, leaders must be able to assess global differences and adjust to the local business environment: gaining a wider knowledge of the diverse cultures becomes essential. We can call it elasticity to adjust, ability to think out of the box, readiness to see further, a willingness to prevent bias: to me, the mix of these attitudes is proving to be the real advantage to living, studying and working in an international environment.

How can this i-Flex program provide support in making an international contribution?

Heidemarie: When I was told about the i-Flex opportunity, I thought it was an excellent way to incorporate technology in advanced education. The most relevant advantage is surely the flexibility this format allows, which is even more relevant in an international context with colleagues connected from the four corners of the earth. But I especially like what seems to be the uniqueness of the program, which brings the School one step forward, well projected in the technological environment where we all are expected to work.

How might a multicultural environment impact your personal and professional life during classes?

Heidemarie: I believe a lot in cultural contamination. I can visualize it as a snowball effect, further amplified by the participants’ different backgrounds. Sharing different experiences, encouraging different mind-sets and approaches brings an enormous added valued to the program. MIP has managed to select a bunch of incredibly smart and talented people for this EMBA, and I do feel truly privileged to be part of this group.

What do you expect this program will bring to your life after graduation?

Heidemarie: The first word that comes to my mind is value. I am here to learn, both to learn new things and to learn how to do things that I already know differently. I expect to be able to use this added value properly in my career and in my personal life. The solid professional and personal network that I am building here is something that will stay and grow for the time being, enriching any other experience that comes afterwards.

Are you curious to know what Claudio thinks about it? Stay tuned for the second interview and find out more about the international experience of i-Flex.

About the author
Vito Conversano

Student of the International Flex Executive MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano.
Chief Information Officer @ San Marzano Vini SpA with extensive international experience in IT & strategic consultancy for fortune 500 companies. Creative, Curious, Travel lover. Passionate about discovering new concepts, learning continuously and developing new ideas.

Data and human resources management: the new frontiers of project management

Mauro Mancini, director of the Flex executive programme in Project Management, illustrates the reasons that project management has become increasingly important in companies and what skills are required.

Knowing how to analyse growing amounts of data, prioritizing human resources development, being up to speed with the use of artificial intelligence. They are only some of the qualities that must be possessed by a project manager, an increasingly important figure for companies and organizations. «It’s an evolution caused mainly by the digital transformation and by a global scenario whose development is increasingly rapid and unpredictable», explains Professor Mauro Mancini, director of the FLEX executive programme in Project Management at MIP Politecnico di Milano. «At the international level, a phenomenon is underway that the scientific community calls projectification. In other words, even ordinary and process activities must increasingly be managed with the typical tools of project management».

Hard, soft, contextual skills

What the project management approaches have in common is the idea of uniqueness: «Uniqueness of the final product, of the available human capital, of the social context, of the temporal contingency and of the partnership involved in the project itself», clarifies Mancini. But to enhance these elements, the project manager must possess a wide range of skills: «First of a technical nature, the so-called hard skills: I’m referring to the knowledge of methods, techniques and approaches developed for rapidly evolving scenarios like EVNS, Scrum, Real Option, data visualization. Regarding soft skills, leadership and the abilities of delegating, mentoring, training, team building, and team working are essential». But there’s a third order of skills that shouldn’t be underestimated, which Mancini describes as “of context”: «A good project manager must understand in real time the main elements of an organizational, social and cultural context, because not only structural elements but especially contingent ones are crucial for the success of an initiative. On these, if necessary, one must be able to remodel the project itself, adapting it quickly and with foresight with an approach many people call agile business. The balance of these three skill sets allow a project manager to be ready to face the challenges of the future».

Data and people: key elements

If we look at the evolution of project management in recent years, the factors that have redefined the borders of the discipline are essentially two: on one hand, the importance of information management, on the other human resources. «We live in an era in which we have an increasing amount of data available. The project manager must be able to make decisions not only based on available information, but also with a clear awareness of that which is missing. Helping them today in this process of data screening and schematizing are several tools developed thanks to the evolution of artificial intelligence, that allows for the rapid implementation of self-learning rules. But in a context where small or large unforeseen events are normal, the project manager will increasingly have to assert their own personal capabilities and experience», explains Mancini. «The final decision both concerning one’s own structure and the customer (which sometimes coincide) is the task of the project manager, and this is also true for team management. Among their primary objectives there must be the development of collaborators and their full involvement, to multiply the working group’s capacity for action. The project manager’s task is to guide this participation, protecting it from the pressures of stakeholders involved in the project».

Digital education expands networking

MIP’s FLEX executive programme in Project Management deals with these and other issues, with the aim of training and educating a well-rounded professional and, especially, one who is up to date: «The programme has a completely digital format, it favours the participation of managers and professional from a wide geographical area. This factor expands networking possibilities among participants. Teaching», explains Mancini, «will follow two tracks: synchronous and asynchronous. Asynchronous learning allows to gain skills independently, to then refine and fine-tune them in synchronous mode, that’s to say interacting directly with the teachers. Our goal is not only to provide useful tools from the start, but also to share with participants those skills necessary for self-learning and continuous education, crucial to face the changes that will characterise the decades to come».