Who doesn’t like to play?

Our alumni, Ben Thompson, Virginia Soana and Sandro Duarte, talk about their entrepreneurial journey which started in MIP’s classrooms and led to a partnership with Zero Latency VR, the world leader in Virtual Reality entertainment.

Tell us more about your startup: how it was born, the needs it meets, and the challenges faced during the pandemic.

  • Ben: I am a great fan of paintball and airsoft. I have always been interested in the relationship between video games and the real world and how technology can make possible the convergence between these two worlds. Zero Latency VR fits right into this market space, embracing the physical experience ̶ physical movement is required during the game  ̶  and the digital experience  ̶  the world, zombies, and spaceships are all digital and classic video game characteristics.
  • Sandro: Who doesn’t like to play? We had been following the Zero Latency boom for some time, but the idea of ​​bringing this franchise to Italy was born when Ben and I were carrying out a project ̶ again, linked to innovative gaming  ̶̶  that failed for various reasons. Obviously, we did not give up and we started our journey with Zero Latency during the final months of 2019. The initial idea was to open in June 2020, but we had to postpone due to the uncertainty of the moment, linked to Covid-19.
  • Virginia: I am a daughter of the Nintendo NES and Super Mario Bros. Initially, I was involved in the project as a legal consultant but, thanks to the know-how of my colleagues and their direct experience, I understood well what I was dealing with and I immediately decided to join the project, fascinated by a world so evolved and interested in VR. The biggest challenge? The launch and preparation, currently being finalized, of our project during the Covid-19 pandemic, an obstacle that is not exactly easy to overcome.

After the partnership with Zero Latency VR, what could be the future for Live Action Gaming in the gaming/entertainment sector?

  • Ben: The first point on our agenda is to expand ZL in Italy and take it to more cities. On my side, I worked with a Swedish friend on a scoring system and interface capable of inserting digital elements into physical experiences. This project is close to being completed and I see Live Action Gaming as an important vehicle and promoter of this technology in Italy.
  • Sandro: Virtual reality has come to stay! By joining forces with the ZL community, we not only gain a world-class partner in terms of VR entertainment but also access to high-level know-how, without the need to develop a VR platform from scratch. The short-term goal is to open more offices throughout the peninsula and offer Italians a unique and revolutionary VR experience.
  • Virginia: As Ben said, the idea is to expand as much as possible in Italy in the next 3-5 years, following a strategy already largely planned: we know that the country is ready and eager to try virtual reality and we are sure that LAG, thanks to its vision and to the company structure, can be the right way to reach this goal.

Could you also tell us something about your other post-MBA professional experiences and how much they have influenced this new project?

  • Ben: The final project work to complete the Part-Time MBA, presented by Sandro and me together with other colleagues, was focused on the topic of virtual reality played in a physical space. After my MBA, I left my old role and moved on to the E-sports sector. Immediately after the positive feedback we received on the thesis, we decided to try to transform it from a theoretical exercise into a real project. There have been several iterations, failures and difficulties, but in the end we made a good deal with ZL and we are happy to launch it soon.
  • Sandro: I will be forever grateful to MIP. Those were two intense years, full of great emotions. On a professional level, the Part-Time MBA had an almost immediate effect, since in the last 3 years I have coordinated various engineering activities which, together with a multidisciplinary team, identify innovative solutions to minimize the cost of ownership of helicopters at Leonardo Helicopter Division. My entrepreneurial streak emerged during the MBA as, from day one, the Faculty encouraged students to pursue and develop their business ideas. If, 3 years ago, someone had told me that I would pursue my entrepreneurial side, I would have laughed!
  • Virginia: The Part-Time MBA has completely changed my career perspective, making me fall in love with entrepreneurship. At the end of the course, I abandoned any activities as an employee and founded 3 start-ups, the last of which is Live Action Gaming. In addition, as a shareholder, I entered a further company founded by another alumnus from the Part-Time MBA, also collaborating in his community of professionals, and I am collaborating as a mentor for a fourth project in progress. Not only the satisfactions, but also the falls and failures have taught me not to give up and have led me to be more and more aware of my possibilities and skills.

Our alumni community shares the passion for innovation and the purpose to build a better future for all. What impact did your MIPexperience have on your personal and professional growth, and on this new entrepreneurial experience?

  • Ben: There are a couple of aspects necessary for increasing your success, both as an employee and as an entrepreneur. One is the network, which can provide you with advice, resources and, most importantly, team members. The team is everything. The MBA has given me a broader capacity and understanding of how businesses work, allowing me to better understand how an employer acts and making me acquire the right approach to start my company, manage both the people and all the flows of work. The part-time format made this experience even more impactful because it allowed me to learn fundamental skills, such as time management, the ability to delegate and how to meet deadlines, which are essential in an entrepreneurial environment but also necessary to survive and successfully pursue an MBA while working full time.
  • Sandro: LAG is having positive feedback and a good part of this is largely due to the fact that we are a team with a multidisciplinary background and an immense desire to accomplish our goals. As Ben says, the team is everything! If you have a team that believes in the project, most of the work is done. On a personal and professional level, when I think about my path at MIP, the phrase “I was blind, but now I see” comes to my mind. As I said before, I lived the MBA intensely and extracted as many lessons as possible. So I cannot praise one feature over another because this would not do justice to the Master. I see my experience as a whole and not in part.
  • Virginia: Attending this path provided me with that set of “business” skills I was lacking because of my legal background, and allowed me to refine several soft skills that I am now applying daily in the world of entrepreneurship. I am thinking about time management, the execution of activities according to a concept of priorities based on business needs, the ability to work and lead a team of people, just to name a few. On the other hand, we met during the Master and we shared assignments, deliveries, and deadlines, and we worked as a group: this allowed us to get to know each other as individuals, even before becoming the full-fledged team which we are now. We share a common path that is helping us to face daily challenges and a mindset that allows us to achieve high-level goals with awareness and serenity.


Diversity & Inclusion: the human side of innovation

Steven Beyba, Human Resources Officer at Eurojust and MBA Alumnus, explains how embracing effective D&I programs leads each person to have the mental capacity to generate new ideas and solutions.

You are a co-founder of The Hague’s Interagency Diversity and Inclusion Network. Can you tell us more about this outstanding project

The idea for the Network came about after I attended workshops on creating a United Nations for all. I was working at the UN-IRMCT in The Hague, the city of peace and justice and the seat of many international organisations. A small group of my peers and I got together during the workshops and decided to combine our passions and share our experiences. This was the genesis of an unofficial network which grew into an official network of staff from most of The Hague’s international organisations. D&I initiatives in our respective agencies are at various stages of development, so we lean on one another to learn what’s going well and what’s not. We use this knowledge to expand our D&I programs and to inspire senior stakeholders to create safe and equable workplaces. Aside from our annual event (where we host high-profile guest speakers within the realm of D&I), we’ve also designed and delivered workshops related to topics like unconscious bias, LGBTIQ+, racial diversity, disability, and mental health, with our repertoire always growing. Our goal is to have representation from any organization in The Hague willing to create a welcoming environment for all.

Looking at your personal and professional experience, do you believe that diversity & inclusion can be two keys to unlocking innovation?

We’re hearing more and more about how important D&I is, but sometimes the reasons why are lost in the shuffle. Whilst D&I has a lot of objectives, I think one of its main goals in a workplace is to ensure that every person, no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, what they believe in, who they love, or what their story is, feels that they can go to work and do so without prejudice, intolerance or bias holding them back. Everyone can remember a time when discriminatory experiences relating to an aspect of their person has crept up and made them second-guess themselves. I’ve also never met someone who hasn’t dealt with some form of bias at work, even if it was unintentional. To understand how D&I can address these issues, let’s fast-forward 20 years, imagining that D&I programs have been successful in their missions and companies have adopted policies that fully protect their staff and created harmonious working environments. In each person, the mental space that was once reserved for fear and anxiety related to judgement and discrimination has been freed up, ready to be filled with more useful thoughts. Each person would then have that far greater mental capacity to generate new ideas and solutions, leading to faster cycles of innovation. This is why I think companies are starting to embrace D&I programs; they realize the benefit of unleashing each employee’s full potential.

You are an alumnus from the International Flex EMBA programme. Which kinds of skills did the MIPexperience give you that were useful in your path?

What was unique about this experience was that all of my wonderful classmates came from different backgrounds and industries, unlike at my workplaces, which were often comprised of people who had only ever worked for international organizations. Each of us in the program brought our own understanding of how projects should be completed, how communication should happen, and how deadlines should be met. With each module, I was learning to step out of my own paradigm and into someone else’s. This helped me understand that everyone has something driving them and how to harness this, instead of thinking of differences as obstacles to overcome. I’d say that the iFlex EMBA is an excellent way of challenging yourself to go beyond the familiar in many ways. You’ll work with a diverse group of people and learn about yourself, how you fit into teams, how to be culturally sensitive, and how to lead with compassion. My journey tied in well with my D&I work, as it taught me to adapt to unfamiliar personalities and circumstances under time pressure and to appreciate where my peers were coming from in every sense. In completing the program, I feel even more confident about working in global teams and doing so with an open mind and open heart.

According to MIP’s new mission, our Community is called upon to build a better future for all. As one of our most committed alumni in social activities, would you like to join us in this call to action by sending out a message to the Community?

I would be happy to lend my voice to the cause of making the future a brighter one for the next generations. There is so much animosity in the world at the moment, and I’d rather be on the side of those fighting this intolerance and ensuring our children can live openly, freely, and happily.

Steven Beyba | Human Resources Officer at Eurojust and MBA Alumnus



Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano graduate Daniele Pes wins MBA Startup of the Year award at AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards 2021

Daniele Pes, a graduate from Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano, has won the coveted MBA Startup of the Year award for his company Grycle.

He received this accolade at the AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards, which were held virtually on 29 January 2021.

The ceremony had 365 people registered to attend including Business School leaders, as well as category finalists, judges and members of the media.

Daniele Pes left his role as Director of Open Innovation and Digital Transformation in a multinational fair-trade company to dedicate himself to his new venture, Grycle.

Grycle performs small-scale industrial waste treatment, allowing the transformation of undifferentiated waste back into raw materials upstream of the supply chain, thus dramatically reducing costs and impacts.

The patented technology transforms waste sustainably into flakes of raw materials that are automatically separated and ready for industrial reuse. There is no more need for manual sorting. Garbage is turned from waste into valuable resources, which are recyclable indefinitely.

“On behalf of Grycle team I want to thank MIP and make an appeal to the companies in the waste and mechatronics industries, as long as the investors out there. We do the R&D you might have done in the past. If we’ve not done enough so far, this is the perfect moment to fill the gap between talking about the environment and concretely change. And evolve. Let’s talk, let’s collaborate, let’s make it real, together”, said Daniele Pes.

Andrew Main Wilson, Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association (AMBA & BGA), said: ‘On behalf of the AMBA and Business Graduates Association (BGA) team, I would like to congratulate the Finalists and Winners of this year’s Excellence Awards.

‘This was our largest-ever AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards, featuring 11 categories. We have had a record number of entries, representing all six continents, and the competition was stronger than ever. The entries who made the final shortlist in each category should feel proud of their achievements.

‘I also want to take the opportunity to thank our headline sponsor, Blue Prism, and its Chairman and CEO, Jason Kingdon, as well as our award sponsors – Advent Group, Barco and Studious Digital Education. Their support for our awards – and the business education sector – is greatly appreciated.’



For more information or interviews, please contact:


Awards selection process

The Finalists list was shortlisted by AMBA & BGA’s senior management team. Our judges reviewed more than 100 shortlisted entries, selecting a winner (‘gold’) and, if appropriate, a ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ for each award. Our judging panel is made up of AMBA board members, business experts, deans, and management leaders. Judges decided the winners based on written submissions for all categories, as well as interviews with all finalists for all student and graduate categories. Judges then scored all finalists confidentially with the scores added up to decide the winners.

All of our judges were selected based on their experience and qualifications.

More information about the categories and complete list of the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners and Finalists


Best Innovation Strategy, sponsored by Barco

The Best Innovation Strategy award is a celebration of innovation and radical thinking in business education delivery across all areas of the Business School and has been developed to recognise and reward game-changing new practices, risks and creativity around AMBA-accredited and BGA member programmes. It promotes the value of taking risks in pursuit of the new across a number of different areas such as teaching, learning, recruitment and alumni relations.


  • TBS Business School (formerly known as Toulouse Business School) (France) for ‘Teaching through comedy: injecting humour into educational videos’


  • Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy) for ‘Immersive learning with simulations and virtual reality’


  • Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow (UK) for ‘Decision making under uncertainty: making a drama out of a crisis – transitioning a core MBA course into an online format using the Covid-19 pandemic as an integrated case study’


  • Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London (UK) for ‘A three-stage strategic response to the disruption in teaching provision due to the Covid-19 pandemic: stabilise, enhance and innovate’
  • School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) (China) for ‘Fintech MBA programme’


Best Lifelong Learning Initiative, sponsored by Studious Digital Education

The Best Lifelong Learning Initiative is a new award which recognises the efforts of AMBA & BGA member Schools that are reinventing teaching and learning among students, graduates, alumni networks, and in their custom and executive education offerings.

The finalists showcase the impact and success these initiatives have had not only to students, but also to the Business School.


  • Mannheim Business School, University of Mannheim (Germany)


  • Thammasat Business School, Thammasat University (Thailand)


  • Hult International Business School (US)


  • EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico)
  • Facultad de Economía y Negocios, Universidad Anáhuac México (Mexico)
  • International Institute of Business (IIB) (Ukraine)


Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative

The Best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative award honours AMBA-accredited and BGA member, validated and accredited Business Schools that share AMBA & BGA’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and that are passionate about making a difference to communities and societies.

The award recognises Business Schools that are taking the initiative in creating a sustainable future and teaching students about social values; as well as making a positive impact in practical and measurable ways.


  • Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University (Nigeria) for ‘LBS Sustainability Centre (LBSSC)’


  • Glorious Sun School of Business and Management, Donghua University (China) for ‘Social Responsibility Leadership Programme’


  • CENTRUM PUCP Business School, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru) for ‘Improving My Store’


  • Hanken School of Economics (Finland) for ‘Business Lead’
  • IPADE Business School, Universidad Panamericana (Mexico) for ‘IPADE Social Challenge’
  • Shantou University Business School, Shantou University (China) for ‘Leiling Honey Project, Fenghuangshan Mountain Tea Promotion Project, Recycling Project of China’


Best Business School Partnership, sponsored by Blue Prism

The Best Business School Partnership recognises organisations that share AMBA & BGA’s passion for building networks and have adopted a proactive, innovative approach to strategic collaboration.

This award is designed to celebrate Business Schools working strategically and collaboratively with (for example) another Business School / group of Schools, an employer, consultant, education partner or technology provider, social impact group, individual, charity, or other organisation.


  • Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University (UK) with Transnational Academic Group


  • CENTRUM PUCP Business School, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru) with Industrias San Miguel


  • School of Business, Jiangnan University (China) with Jiangsu JD-Link International Logistics


  • Graduate Business School, NUCB Business School (Japan) with Toyota Motor Corporation
  • Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy) with Prada


Best Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, sponsored by Advent Group

The Best Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is a new award which has been introduced in 2021, which recognises Business Schools and the work they have been doing to create, incorporate and develop culture, diversity and inclusion practices into their Business School, while balancing and involving fair working environments.


  • Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London for ‘Working in diverse organisations’


  • IE Business School (Spain) for ‘LGBT+@Work’
  • Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) (Venezuela) for ‘Women entrepreneurs programme – Grupo Cisneros’
  • Monash Business School, Monash University (Australia) for ‘Queering accounting’


BGA Business School Impact Award

The BGA Business School Impact Award is a newly created award in 2021, open to BGA member, validated, and accredited Schools which demonstrate their impact on all stakeholders, alongside BGA’s vision and Charter. It also promotes the values of positive impact, innovation, responsible management and lifelong learning across areas such as programme design, social outreach programmes, alumni relations, careers services and other areas where the Business School is demonstrating an impact.


  • School of Business, Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina)


  • Athena School of Management (India)


  • Brunel Business School, Brunel University London (UK)
  • Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University (Poland)
  • International Management Institute (MIM-Kyiv) (Ukraine)
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (Netherlands)


BGA Future Leaders Case Competition

The BGA Future Leaders Case Competition provides BGA student and graduate members with an opportunity to showcase their business acumen by solving a time-relevant global business problem with a focus on ensuring sustainability and responsible management practices are at the forefront of proposed solutions.


  • Nicolas Sauviat, Aston Business School, Aston University (UK)


  • Ahmed Youssef Ahmed Aly, Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
  • Hari Chandan Patnaik, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham (UK)
  • Racquella Laurel Parris, Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, The University of the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago)


MBA Startup of the Year

The MBA Startup of the Year is a new award which celebrates the achievements of successful MBA students and alumni in innovative world-class business strategy. It also showcases Business Schools that are nurturing a spirit of enterprise and ambition.

This award highlights the success of AMBA-accredited Business Schools that promote entrepreneurship in their MBA cohorts.


  • Daniele Pes, Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy) for Grycle


  • Yann Le Guillou, Rennes School of Business (France) for Biosency


  • Aku Wilenius, School of Business, Aalto University (Finland) for Caidio


  • Codilia Gapare, Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) for C-Lash
  • Laura Judith Ramírez Guevara, EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico) for Dereum Labs
  • Tatiana Flores Burbano, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University (Spain) for Exponencial


MBA Entrepreneur of the Year

The MBA Entrepreneur of the Year award celebrates the achievements of successful alumni in innovative world-class business strategy, but also showcases Business Schools that are nurturing a spirit of enterprise and ambition.

The MBA Entrepreneur of the Year award is one of the most distinguished awards in the industry. AMBA has developed the MBA Entrepreneur of the Year award to encourage and promote the value of entrepreneurship in the current competitive climate and to highlight its importance in the global market.


  • Oluwatobi Ajayi, Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University (Nigeria) for Nord Automobiles


  • Daniel Burns, TUM School of Management, Technische Universität München (Germany) for Testifi


  • Daniel George, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University (UK) for StepEx


  • Francisco Santolo, Universidad del CEMA (Argentina) for Scalabl
  • Ramil Khantimirov, Graduate School of Management, Saint Petersburg State University (Russia) for StormWall
  • Sarah Martin, Kent Business School, University of Kent (UK) for Nourish Zero Waste


MBA Leadership Award

The MBA Leadership Award is a new award for 2021 which honours alumni from AMBA-accredited Business Schools who have been making an impact in the business world following their graduation.

The award recognises the work of these alumni through their achievements, performance and recognition.


  • Oare Ehiemua, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University (Spain)


  • Alforde Charumbira, UCT Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town (South Africa)


  • Vyacheslav Klimov, International Institute of Business (IIB) (Ukraine)


  • Ashwanth Gnanavelu, Kent Business School, University of Kent (UK)
  • Ivan Syreyshchikov, Graduate School of Management, Saint Petersburg State University (Russia)
  • Shivanku Misra, IMI New Delhi (India)


MBA Student of the Year

AMBA’s MBA Student of the Year award plays a pivotal role in supporting AMBA’s pledge to promote the MBA degree as the leading international business qualification.

The MBA Student of the Year award recognises students who have shown exceptional career potential and who AMBA believes can act as ambassadors for the high quality of accredited MBAs and the opportunities these programmes provide for students from a wide range of different personal and professional backgrounds.


  • Mital Thanki, School of Business, University of Leicester (UK)


  • Kayee Au, AUC School of Business, The American University in Cairo (Egypt)


  • Leon Lloyd, Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK)


  • Ciara Close, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin (Ireland)
  • Koshy Alexander, IE Business School (Spain)
  • Ramiro Agustin Costa, Universidad del CEMA (Argentina)


Find a list of all AMBA accredited Schools here.

A veterinarian in the MBA world: interview with MIP Alumnus Nicola Morandi

The purple background of Teams pulses insistently, asking me to take the incoming call. It is a sunny, post-quarantine day, and I am getting along after home lockdown on my MBA journey. Classes are over and my days revolve around preparing for the project work I will be following in a couple of days down the line. The voice on the other side hails me on a cheerful yet unexpected note, “Hello, doctor!” Nicola Morandi is a former student from the Executive MBA of some years ago. He is the Technical Manager of the Animal Health division at Boehringer Ingelheim, the company where I will be doing the project work, and – the thing has made me most curious about his profile, amongst the network of MIP alumni – a PhD, like myself.

Hello Nicola, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today! I am happy to introduce your experience here: you are a doctor in veterinary sciences, as well as an MBA. Can you tell me about the industry you work in and what part the MBA played in your career development?

“I have been working at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health since 2015. It is a multinational pharmaceutical company, but still a family business. If you have a dog, we are the “Frontline” people, just to make it clear! Our core business is in the production of vaccines and antiparasitics for all kinds of animals. Until 2015, I was a veterinarian, in the most classical way: I was curing animals, and specifically my fields of specialization were internal medicine, bovine surgery and infective diseases. Once I arrived at Boehringer, I found out that despite the fact that my background and knowledge as a specialist veterinarian gave me the basis for a good performance, I was lacking of a set of hard skills that would have benefited my job as a whole. Strategy, economics and marketing are, after all, the pillars of every industry, and of our company as well. I could quite easily have gained these competences with some hands-on experience in the field, exposing myself to all the tasks required in the various roles in my division, but this would have required a lot of time. Indeed, an MBA program could accelerate this path, so I chose the latter option, with an Executive Part-Time program, to gain this acceleration. As of today, I must say I am able to have an impact in many processes of the company going above and beyond my specific job function. I can say that the EMBA really worked as an accelerator for my career path.” 

During the MBA at MIP, you were exposed to themes and tools such as innovation and design thinking. In which way have these been useful and practical in your job?

“One of the most positive aspects of doing an EMBA deals with the possibility of putting into practice tools, methods and models you see during seminars and classes quite straightforwardly. In my case, there were some of them, such as design thinking, innovation of meaning and creative problem solving, that proved truly helpful and fruitful in my job. For instance, they helped me accelerate the sales’ pipeline of one of our star products and this was quite impressive, given the fact that this product was already performing in a surprising way, with 50% of market share.” 

Would you like to share an anecdote about your MBA life?

“When I joined the program, I hadn’t considered two aspects that later on became key takeaways for me: teamwork and time management. The ability to put together effectively your everyday workload, private time with family and the commitment of doing a Master program is challenging at times. However, these are after all the things I remember the most: to perform well, you need to leverage on the strengths of every team member you find yourself working close to in every course of the program and to negotiate successfully the work-study-life balance. Oh yes, and parties too…”

On a serious note, Covid-19 is making organizations experience an unprecedented need for change. What are the implications you see in the upcoming months for your industry and what will be the drivers companies and employees should focus on adapting rapidly?

“As I see it, Covid-19 is a stress test: it made urgent and clear the need for changes that were in a way already programmed or in plan. I am specifically referring to people management and digital transformation. People are the key element of every organization, and this situation is specifically requiring effectiveness by making them feel an active part of the change, not a consequence of a necessary adaptation. Digital transformation is usually seen as a trend that will act as a substitute for people. On the contrary, the missing point in the common way to see it is that it is an enriching element contributing to performance. Of course, this is possible when the transformation is effectively communicated into a people strategy. Another driver that I find important and that we still need to work on a lot are soft skills: with particular reference to the present moment, communication, teamwork, proactiveness and the ability to stay up-to-date, focus on the objectives and resilience are the winning points of the future of work.” 

On this note, Prof Sdogati from our faculty at Politecnico has recently remembered something Gramsci said: “Study, because we will need all your intelligence”.


About the author
Marianna Trimarchi
I am a candidate of the International Full Time MBA at MIP. I have a background in academia as a PhD in Communication and Strategic Analysis and a career as content producer in the Media Industry.I have worked for the Italian Television as author and assistant producer for cultural programs as well as for other media outlets as journalist. I am passionate about understanding complex phenomena particularly related to internationalization and global development from a multidisciplinary perspective.


«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».

«MIP’s HR vision is modern and contemporary»

Human resources management merges with marketing instruments and requires skills that are always new and up to date. The aim is to enhance the value of individuals, starting from their diversity. Chiara Lombardi, human resource manager of Emilio Pucci and MIP alumna, explains this to us

A renewed centrality of the value of people, combined with competent and qualified management. This is the future, and in some respects already the present, of human resources management within an organization. So says Chiara Lombardi, human resource manager at Emilio Pucci, an Italian fashion house that is part of the LVMH Group, and alumna of the executive Human Resource Business Leader programme at MIP Politecnico di Milano. «HR doesn’t allow improvisation. Even less so today, considering the increasingly close link with marketing tools, necessary for companies to implement talent attraction and retention strategies».

Learning based on discussion

Chiara’s vision matured after long years of experience in the sector, preceded by a degree in languages and perfected also thanks to the executive programme, in which she enrolled with the goal of consolidating her skills: «I have always had a great interest in human resources, and over time I understood that I wanted to transform myself into a more strategically-oriented HR manager. At the same time, I was lacking some of the hard skills needed to do this. For this reason, I enrolled in the programme offered by MIP». In the beginning, she expected frontal lessons with a decidedly academic approach, but she soon realized that, in reality, a fundamental element of the course was the active involvement of the students: «Alongside high-level teachers, there was the collaboration of companies, thanks to which we had a current and privileged point of view on the HR reality. But a lot of room was also given to the interaction between us students, which gave rise to open discussions, bearers of a great wealth of contents.  For this reason, I advise approaching this course opening your eyes and mind as much as possible. The range of contents, possibilities, solutions is so broad that it represents a unique learning opportunity».

The fruits of this period of learning are clear for Chiara: «I wouldn’t have been so effective in the job market without the awareness I gained in this programme. For me it was a real breath of fresh air, that gave me many learning opportunities and additional skills to use both in my company and in my work transition phase».

Between change and diversity

There’s another area, however, in which Lombardi’s needs were met in the MIP executive programme.  While it is true that hard skills are fundamental, human resources can’t be separated from people. «My goal is to make the issue of change central in the companies I work, and to do this with small and big actions. At MIP I was able to strengthen a modern and contemporary vision and deepen beliefs that are good for both resources and the company. I’m thinking, for example, of the issue of diversity, which by now is fundamental and unavoidable. The enhancement of human resources can’t be ignored. If a person is treated correctly, they will contribute more willingly, generating value and wealth both for the company and the people who work alongside them».

A theme that Lombardi particularly has at heart, seeing that since 2018 she has been a mentor and coach for Young Women Network, a non-profit whose aim is the empowerment of young women. «The issue of female leadership is extremely important, and I really appreciated how the issue of diversity was addressed at MIP (which also, through the Mip4Women initiative, makes a contribution of 1000 euros available to female candidates). Unfortunately, in many companies there is a lack of examples of female managers, given that boards of directors are still largely male. The situation can evolve, but we must all commit to being promoters of change».

«Good ideas aren’t enough: at MIP I learned how to develop them»

Dialogue with colleagues from the master’s programme, two years of experiments and progress and, above all, a mentality devoted to continuous improvement. Martin Leban, AMIE (now IMIE) alumnus, tells us how the idea of a shampoo contained in biodegradable marbles came about.

Training in the family business, discussions with colleagues in the master’s programme from around the world and, finally, the establishment of a startup that, inspired by principles of social and environmental sustainability, gives life to a small product, but with a large potential. It’s the story of Martin Leban, a young Slovenian entrepreneur and co-founder of the startup OneTwoThreeZero, as well as alumnus of AMIE (now evolved into IMIE, International Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship) at MIP Politecnico di Milano: «The master’s taught me that there are a lot of ideas, good and less good. What makes the difference is the effort put into developing them. And that’s exactly how I and my colleagues conceived of shampoo in biodegradable marbles».

From the idea to its implementation

Leban comes from a family that owns a small hair care product company. «An environment in which I learned a lot, observing day by day», says Leban. «Creating no waste cosmetics has been a goal of mine since I was working at my family company and saw how much plastic we produce. When Renata Alessio, Indira Pambudy and Sarra Elamin started the project of biodegradable shampoo marbles at AMIE I immediately liked it and asked them to join the team».
The ecological potential of this idea is clear: «The cosmetic industry uses a lot of plastic for its packaging, even for small quantities of a product, as is the case, for example, with the vials distributed in hotels. We started from a product conceptually like the detergent capsules used in dishwashers. In that case, however, the covering is a plastic material. For us, the challenge was to find a biodegradable material that at the same time was resistant enough to contain the shampoo inside it». A challenge taken up by his two partners and chemists, Anja Pajntar and Uros Novak. «It’s a research process that has now lasted for two years. The difficulty is due to the small percentage of water in the shampoo, 10%, which on its own is a big savings compared to the 80% of average shampoos. We could have fallen back on a product without water, but the effect on hair wouldn’t have been the same». The roadmap for OneTwoThreeZero foresaw a series of important tests in April 2020, but the current health situation has forced Leban and his team to postpone. «By now we’re there, however. So much so that the laboratory that hosted us until now is no longer sufficient; we will shortly start to produce larger quantities of our product».

The importance of not being satisfied

Leban doesn’t hide that the MIP experience was crucial for the creation of this startup. «Starting with my classmates, from 17 different nationalities. This diversity has proved to be a real value added, because it gave me exposure to different points of view and cultures, which generated a true creative flow. Now I make use of the principles of design thinking learned thanks to the master’s programme, which taught me how to set up a balanced team, evaluating the most strategic individual characteristics for the company».
The project work experience was also important: «It’s one of the reasons I chose MIP. I learned what makes up the development process, which isn’t only a matter of notions, but also of mentality. Focusing deeply on an idea, to discover its real potential and give life to a series of virtually infinite possibilities».
Finally, some advice for those are about to enrol in a master’s programme: «The best way to experience it is to try to arrive with clear ideas on what you want to achieve. And never be satisfied, but work on yourself. The level of lessons is very high, and pushes you to aim even higher, to increasingly deepen your knowledge. It’s this mentality that allows you to approach your goals, both if you want to work as an entrepreneur, or as a consultant. The job prospects tied to this master’s are manifold».

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.

Hostmate: how our startup was created at MIP

The story of this company that operates in the short-term rental market, born in the classroom at MIP. One of its founders, Felipe Aguilera, an MBA alumnus, tells us about it, illustrating opportunities and challenges and offering some advice to those who are about to begin the Master’s programme.

Good ideas, on their own, aren’t enough. They must be studied, closely evaluated, discussed, defended. It’s the best way to bring out their real potential: «In fact, if an idea is born perfect, it means that it’s not innovative», says Felipe Aguilera, alumnus of the Master in Business Administration programme at MIP and among the founders of Hostmate, an innovative startup with headquarters in Milan that operates on the market of short-term rentals. «We manage every aspect of the service, from putting the property online to the cleaning of the apartments, meeting requirements of the compliance side, receiving guests and maintenance».

Cross-cutting skills for a one-of-a-kind service

As often happens, Hostmate was born out of brainstorming: «About three years ago, together with some friends and colleagues, we started discussing the so-called megatrends in the property market. Among these stood out home sharing», says Felipe. «And so we created Hostmate. Currently we operate mainly in Milan, but we are slowly expanding in Turin and Venice. Rome and Florence will be our next big challenges. We want to distinguish ourselves from our competitors and to offer a unique service». There are many variables to manage and they require a wide range of professional skills: «For this reason, two other MIP alumni joined the team: Virginia Soana, currently business manager, and Amr Aladl, operations strategy advisor. Two people with very different academic backgrounds, in law and engineering. But the complexity of the business requires this», explains Felipe. «Our primary objective is to offer a high-level customer experience, which for us is one of the most important parameters. The customer must be satisfied: it’s the best guarantee for the success of our business. But to meet their needs, we must know every facet of the business».

Between bureaucracy and innovation

The operating context is also important. «Italy offers two fundamental advantages for the short-term rental market: widespread home ownership and large tourist volumes. On the other hand, however, we find a strong resistance to change, along with the bureaucratic and administrative aspect: it’s truly challenging to manoeuvre through the various requirements», explains Felipe. Luckily, these limits are compensated «by the great availability of talented and young, and not so young, people, who have a desire to innovate, change the rules, fight the fear of what’s new».

A Master’s that teaches how to do

Characteristics that also marked Felipe’s experience at MIP. «My previous training was in the field of finance, but I felt the need to gain further expertise in logistics, operations, in innovation in general. In particular, I felt the need for a Master’s that led me to “do”, in addition to “learn”. The MBA has fully met my expectations. We had the opportunity to work with professors who shared excellent guidelines for the definition of “agile” business models, operational and organizational, able to survive in uncertain and continuously changing environments, like that in which we live today. In the same way, open communication and the constant sharing of experiences with my colleagues favoured the proliferation and the improvement of ideas which then materialized in concrete projects. Hostmate is one of these». Lastly, some advice for those who are about to embark on this path: «You have to prepare yourself for an intense period of study and work, and don’t forget that a large part of the value of the MBA comes precisely from this dialogue between colleagues, like that between me, Amr and Virginia, and professors. So, speak up and raise your hand».

A response to the challenges of Covid-19

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the hospitality industry, Hostmate and their team have managed to react«We decided to take advantage of this particular situation to fast-track some important projects included in the strategic plan, in particular, Hostmate Accommodation Facilities and Hostmate Rentals Centre», says Felipe. «The first project, for example, aims to help the less digitally equipped establishments by adding their property to the main virtual booking platforms, managing it, and helping them to communicate with their guests». With respect to the future of the sector, however, the alumnus makes this comment: «We expect tenants and guests to pay more attention to hygiene and health issues and to increase the use of digital channels for booking, communication and payment of services, but we will be ready to face the new challenges».