From the family business to MIP, and back: «This is how we innovate the transfusion sector»

Barbara Sala, CEO at Delcon, talks about her educational and professional career, that led her to head the company founded by her father. «Our goal is to make the supply chain more efficient: using design and listening to those who work in the sector»

Innovating sometimes means changing your perspective. As did Delcon, the Italian company that produces medical equipment led by CEO Barbara Sala. A leap forward that might have been riskier, or that perhaps might not ever have happened, if the company did not have a purpose to guide its choices: «Above all by considering the sector in which we operate, which has a strong ethical value», explains Sala. «Having a noble objective allows us to risk something more to achieve it, adopting a long-term perspective».

Diversifying experiences: an added value  

Before coming to the helm of the company founded by her father, however, Barbara Sala travelled down different paths: after a degree in public relations, she explored marketing and technology, working with companies like Microsoft, Fujitsu-Siemens, Banca Intesa. And also by attempting the startup route, giving life to the AllUCanItaly tourism portal, which aimed to present Italy to tourists in its most authentic and genuine form. «Until, in 2011, I realized that the time had come to bring the value of all these experiences to Delcon. Over time, the diversity of my experiences after graduation proved to be an added value», says Sala. «Joining Delcon was an important professional and life choice, as well as an incentive to continue to train myself and thus to be able to meet the needs that my roles required».

An MIP education

Indeed, in 2014, Sala completed her EMBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. «An experience that I would recommend to everyone.  I chose MIP for its engineering background and its attention to the issue of innovation», explains Sala. «But beyond the crucial educational aspect, I was also struck by the great networking opportunities. It was an experience that opened my mind, guaranteeing me empowerment and an important professional boost. Investing in education is the best choice that each of us can make, because the return is immense».

Design that is born out of use

Armed with new professional skills, and eager to innovate, Sala studied a diversification strategy for Delcon: «It wasn’t easy.  We operate in a highly regulated sector. All the machinery and technology used in blood collection must meet a series of stringent criteria. Until now, therefore, the production of these technologies always started from regulations». Delcon, at a certain point, decided to try a different strategy: «Together with Cefriel, a consortium company founded by the Politecnico that follows innovative companies, and with the New York Blood Center, we created the Milano scale. Instead of starting from regulations, we decided to interview those who personally use these tools.  What were their needs? Based on answers, we started to think about the design of the scale, so that it was not only perfectly compliant with regulations but also functional». The efficiency of the instrument and its ease of use, however, weren’t the only criteria that led to the creation of Milano: «We also worked to create an instrument with a less aseptic design compared to typical hospital products. We like to think that these products make the spaces dedicated to transfusions more welcoming».

Believing in a purpose

Delcon’s new approach also led to a small internal revolution, especially when it comes to hiring: «Our mission was to bring innovation to an industry that has always had difficulties in this area and to make the supply chain more efficient. And we understood that what makes the difference are those people who join our project with enthusiasm, with conviction. For this reason, we often hire candidates more for their attitude than for their CV. We look for courageous people, who like us care about the future of this sector, which is so delicate and important for everyone», concludes Sala.

MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business and BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas together for your future

BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas is offering MIP Graduate School of Business students resident in Italy the possibility of accessing a loan to enable you to plan your future with greater freedom and security.

The BNL Futuriamo loan is designed to help you deal with the needs your study programme entails, both in Italy and abroad: tuition fees, study materials, housing and transport costs, the purchase of a PC or tablet.

BNL Futuriamo can finance from 5,000 to 70,000 euros in a single payment, repayable over a period of up to 10 years, with the possibility of postponing the repayment of the capital from 12 to 36 months from the disbursement.

For younger students, there will be joint registration with a parent/guardian resident in Italy.

The loan is managed entirely by BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas. The granting of the loan is subject to the approval of the bank. For all information, together with contractual and economic conditions, please visit or make an appointment at one of the BNL branches.


Are you a Junior candidate? For further information click here

Are you an Executive candidate? For further information click here


To contact the BNL consultants and request a loan, simply click on “Call me back” and fill in the request form.

«Covid hasn’t stopped us: here’s why we enrolled at MIP»

The current situation could have generated doubts about the wisdom of confirming one’s course enrolment. That didn’t happen: three students tell us why. Among their motivations, the effectiveness of digital learning, the solidity of social networking and the desire to study with colleagues from around the world.

The Covid-19 emergency caused a general global slowdown, but didn’t stop the education sector, which quickly converted to digital formats. And if on one hand MIP Politecnico di Milano didn’t interrupt its services, on the other its students haven’t stopped either, despite the situation underway they have confirmed the desire to follow the courses they enrolled in. Indeed, in some cases, forced work stops have even made the choice simpler. At the most, doubts could have involved the topicality of the contents: would they have stood up in the face of the changes brought on by the pandemic?

The importance of truly digital contents

A week of courses was enough to dispel this fear, as Micaela Long, enrolled in the Flex EMBA and based in Basel, tells us: «I had decided to follow this programme because of the solidity of its contents and the elasticity in delivery methods, which were well suited to my work and family routine. A few days were enough for me to understand that flexibility is also a characteristic of the contents: all the issues that we are addressing, we are also looking at by considering the current situation». After a week, the balance is positive, also as far as the impact of digital learning is concerned: «Working in a corporate role in a pharmaceutical multinational, I was already used to online interaction. However, I must say that the Flex EMBA positively surprised me: a lot of the contents are conceived from the start for digital use; they’re not trivial transpositions of classic face-to-face teachings, but are conceived to take advantage of the strengths of digital. The difference, compared to my previous e-learning experiences, is clear. Also because, despite the asynchronous learning mode, MIP has devised mechanisms that create a community, thus completing the educational experience: my colleagues and I constitute a class where there is a continuous exchange between us and the professors», stresses Long.

Social networking also works remotely

Vanessa Ottone, who works for Accenture and follows the course from New York, also saw the current situation as an opportunity to invest in her education: «The pandemic never influenced my decision. Although its economic and financial repercussions will see us facing major challenges, I’m convinced that in the long term, now more than ever, that leaders must show themselves to be resilient and well-rounded. A programme like the EMBA can support me in this direction and prepare me to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge after the crisis». Like Long, Ottone also had an excellent impression of her first week of online courses: «I’m convinced that a programme like the Flex EMBA, that can count on the best digital instruments now available, can give life to a network of solid relations, generating valuable connections for all participants. After a week of lessons, I have the feeling that the time we spend together in working groups allows us to develop interesting interactions and to establish lasting connections».

The wealth of an international class

He hasn’t yet started his full time MBA programme, but from India civil engineer Pretyush Johari, has confirmed his participation: «Certainly, I had doubts on my enrolment, also in light of eventual logistical difficulties. However, several factors led me to not back out. Starting from the richness of the study programme, so well-structured and suited to my work and educational background. But the positive comments of some of my acquaintances, both with regards to MIP and to Italy, also had a strong influence. The prospect of joining a class made up of people of different nationalities, coming from around the world and able to contribute different and innovative points of view, is absolutely tempting, because I’m convinced that we can learn a lot from each other. Finally, I can’t wait to try my hand with project work, where I will be able to give shape to my ideas, also thanks to the skills that I will have fine-tuned during the master’s».

From personalization to collaboration with PoliHub. The new MBA and EMBA programmes


Specific orientation towards the managerial and entrepreneurial fields. Course organization as a function of the latest trends. These are the two main elements of innovation in the MBA and EMBA courses at Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management. «These are different paths of study able to guarantee expertise independently of the work environment, whether it be in a large company or entrepreneurial firm, indispensable in the current complexity of markets» explains Antonella Moretto, deputy director of the MBA and Executive MBA programmes. «As a result of our programmes, a manager will be able to make decisions with an entrepreneurial spirit and, vice versa, the entrepreneur will be able to take a managerial approach».

One diploma, six formats. The new MBA and MBA Executive MBA programmes of the School of Management at Politecnico di Milano are also characterized by a high degree of personalization. «The individual participant can pursue a path of study that includes up to 50% of “customized” activities drawing on a completely new “library”» continues Antonella Moretto. «The final part of the courses can be defined by opting for more “frontier” subjects, so less tied to the academic path, but you can also choose what lessons to follow in the classroom and what to follow via streaming, allowing to fully personalize your use. For example, the Executive MBA can be pursued over four different platforms: evening (Monday and Tuesday evening in the classroom), part-time (weekend), Flex (distance learning through the digital platform) ) and i-Flex (distance learning in the English language). The classes are the same, but they can be accessed in different ways. The last aspect of flexibility, which I believe we are the only ones in a position to offer, involves the time required for the discussion of a student’s project work, which can be shortened compared to the traditional two-year study path».

The new FLEXA platform

Innovation also isn’t lacking when it comes to digitalization. «First, we changed classroom tools so that all our lessons can be streamed. That way we offer the opportunity to also follow lessons online or to review lessons followed in the classroom. All this with a completely new platform, decidedly more user friendly than the previous version and with a completely new library of clips. Moreover – continues Antonella Moretto – all those who use FLEXA will have a digital mentor that will accompany them from the beginning and through the entire programme both in learning and in training, but also in the start of a career path, that is in contacts with startups and companies. We offer 360-degree digital support. From the first day with FLEXA an assessment is carried out for every participant and the digital, hard and soft skills that are identified are conveyed to our Career Development Officer who, through one-to-one meetings, helps participants to define their career strategy. In the meantime, we create a series of relevant support opportunities favouring contacts with businesses and startups». This is one of the key aspects of the MBA and Executive MBA programmes of the School of Management. «To this end – explains Antonella Moretto once again – we strengthened our relationship with PoliHub, Politecnico di Milano’s company and startup incubator, to allow us to enter into contact with startups when they are in the stage of incubation of entrepreneurial ideas or to develop project work with existing startups».

The relationship with PoliHub

«We decided immediately to collaborate to offer students entrepreneurial career opportunities but also to enrich the managerial skills of our startuppers who, when they have technical backgrounds, require support from those with managerial expertise» explains Claudia Pingue, general manager of PoliHub. «In fact, startups, in particular those in deep tech, often have an initial team that is inadequate to guarantee competitive growth on international markets and a time comes when the integration of managerial skills and the strengthening of leadership is required, with the eventual presence of a CEO. It was therefore decided to make available to MBA and EMBA students the Switch to Product programme, that annually supports and awards the best entrepreneurial projects presented within the Politecnico di Milano and selected by researched centres like CNR, for example. It’s an opportunity for students, who gain access an entrepreneurial acceleration platform and thus take part in a complex experiential mechanism that allows to measure their potential».

Politecnico di Milano, a virtuous ecosystem

This collaboration with PoliHub is planned from the first year of the programme. The objective is to create a panel of MBA and Executive MBA assistants to vet the candidacy of entrepreneurial initiatives, allowing programme participants to receive feedback and join an incubation programme. The Politecnico di Milano is the only academic institution with an incubator this strong, among the best in the world, so much so that 30% of participants decide to launch their own entrepreneurial activity after classes are concluded.
Finally, considering that all career support services are valid for six months after the diploma is received, the innovative scope of the Politecnico ecosystem must be highlighted. «Projects are carried out – concludes Antonella Moretto – also because there’s the contribution of the entire system that gravitates around the university: the Technology Transfer Office, the venture capital fund link, technical support for implementation of technologies and so on».
The entire programme is illustrated to potential users in a series of open days that include a road show at university laboratories. The next appointment is 23 May 2020 at the Bovisa Campus.

The manager of today (and tomorrow)

The job market of the near future will feature managers open to change and able to evolve. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or rather the use of technology in numerous activities previously carried out exclusively by man, threatens some professions, promises to create new ones, and requires an effort to adapt from everyone, in particular from those with decision-making roles.

That of manager is one of the professions that has the least to fear from changes underway, indeed managers will take on an increasingly key role. But precisely for this reason managers have a greater need than others to update their expertise to be prepared for the continuous evolution of job scenarios. The evolution that they are called upon to interpret and manage.

The Future of Jobs Report 2018, published by World Economic Forum, indicates the professions tied to reasoning and decision-making, and those related to coordination, development, management and consulting, as the two categories in which the relationship between hours worked by humans and machines will remain decisively tilted towards the former. But the same report stresses that by 2022, at least 54% of managers will be required to undergo a major re-skilling or upskilling. Many of the companies interviewed declared their intention to concentrate their efforts to upgrade expertise on employees with high value-added positions.

The manager of the future, called on to navigate in a complex society that changes continuously and at a very rapid pace, on one hand needs always up-to-date hard skills, especially in the technological field, and on the other hand soft skills like analytic thinking, resilience, creativity, emotional intelligence, flexibility.

The matter was also discussed in the “Human skills and drivers for change” roundtable, held on 2 February at MIP Politecnico di Milano during the first EMBA Day 2019 (the event is part of the “Practising Leadership cycle”, whose next appointment is scheduled for 6 March on the theme of “Empower your career”). On that occasion, Pino Mercuri, Human Resources Director at Microsoft Italia, focused on the issue of obsolescence of IT skills. “The average engineering or technological skill has a shelf life between 24 and 48 months –said Mercuri –. However, we don’t have complete clarity about the skills that will be necessary in the near future.  We talk about Machine Learning, of AI, of IoT, but they’re often more passwords than real concepts”.

Faced with this increased instability on required skills, the ability to learn and the motivation to do so over one’s working life become increasingly important. “At Microsoft we tried to make everyone understand that learning isn’t only necessary but is also an element of evaluation – added Mercuri –. In our performance management system, we ask you to declare what you intend to do to grow and learn, and the answer to that question is verified during the next evaluation step”.

The head hunter Jacopo Pasetti, also present at the roundtable, focused on two concepts, awareness and passion: “Awareness should be considered as an understanding of our career path and what we truly like to do. It’s necessary so that the continuous updating required due to the rapid evolution of skills isn’t considered to be a weight. So you must choose your career path not on the basis of what’s in fashion at the moment but by following your passions, in addition to a clear strategy”. 

However, the importance of soft skills shouldn’t lead to neglecting hard skills. “We’re in a historical moment in which they’re trying to convince us that skills and culture aren’t so important after all – stressed Fulvia Fiaschetti, Global Talent Acquisition Associate Director of Amplifon –. I believe instead that the business world strongly opposes this type of thinking”. Technical expertise, the manager argues, is needed especially at the entrance in a company, while soft skills are developed later and serve to make further progress. Communication, empathy, forward thinking are skills that can’t be learned from books.

The need to learn quickly also leads to the spread of a culture of error, understood as an invitation to continuously dare and experiment, also using failure as a means for learning.  “The error isn’t only possible but is also necessary to acquire an increasing number of skills – pointed out Pino Mercuri –. If you’re making mistakes, it’s probably because you’re truly trying to innovate”.