Networking through MIP – external program sources

One of the main reasons for starting an MBA is the possibility for networking. Networking starts in many ways and surely meeting and forging relationships with your course colleagues is the first step. The opportunity to meet interesting new people through additional events organized by MIP can also be leveraged. I’m referring, for instance, to the elective weeks and weekends. There are various weekends and full-week bootcamps on different topics that enable people from different programs united by similar interests to meet. A special mention goes to the relationship that MIP has with other universities and business schools. In fact, some students from other universities for whom a place had been reserved were able to participate in the abovementioned bootcamps, as well as there being the chance for us to join bootcamps organized by other universities and experience the international scope typical of business schools with this mindset.

Interaction with other colleagues starts during classes and work groups, when alongside the reviewing, elaboration and production of presentations and assignments, there is the chance to compare others’ approaches to resolution. Then it also progresses externally. Personally, I called and recontacted a few of the classmates I had met in the online sessions. It was a way of discussing the course topics, and then also of getting an opinion of the full program and an overall view of labor market prospects. In general, it was fascinating to get to know other people who had wonderful stories and were extremely charismatic.

The common need to have a space for talking about inspiring subjects led me to thinking about the further opportunity that, together with MIP, I and other MIP alumni were creating: the SOM Entrepreneurship Club. In many discussions with other students, our chats were leading to topics relating to the difficulties when entering the world of entrepreneurship, both at the startup stages but also in more advanced phases. So, we made a proposal to the Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management and MIP, who were happy to support us. A new community forum has started to collect ideas and share experiences for the benefit of people interested in having more direct and practical links to entrepreneurial subjects.

Being open-minded will allow you to expand your networking opportunities and reach out to motivated and active colleagues like yourself. Building a network of contacts is essential for facing daily work challenges and getting inspiration for alternatives. Let’s not miss the opportunities that can be provided by organized events.


About the author
Vito Conversano

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.


Digital transformation and i-Flex, enable your business to deal with changes

The entire world is changing. This has always been the case but in the last few decades the phenomenon has accelerated as never before. It was not so many years back that we witnessed first the industrial revolution and then an information technology revolution  ̶  now a new way of conceiving the world has arrived, from several point of view. It can be seen both in the goods we are using, and related technologies. Let’s think of smartphones, and how many things multipurpose devices have enabled in our lives. It can be seen in human interaction and relationships. Let’s think of social media and how they have turned our lives upside down. Let’s notice the sales services like e-commerce or sharing services like house-sharing, car-sharing, right up to the simple sharing of software/hardware instead of downloading/owning it.

The rules that worked until few a decades ago for industry leaders, the famous “too big to fail”, may no longer be valid nowadays, since incumbent industries can be destabilized or even devastated overnight by something better and cheaper. Bezos himself, founder and CEO of Amazon, said in 2018 to his employees, “I predict one day Amazon will fail”. He is aware that disruptive innovations are continuously happening. Every business knows that it’s mandatory for survival to adapt to environmental and economic changes. To compete with younger, fresher and lighter startups with their disruptive innovation it’s necessary to have the ability to surf the waves of the digital revolution and be able to handle digital transformation. Options could be either succumbing or getting the enormous benefit from it.

Hence, digital transformation is not only a trend of the moment, but is overwhelming businesses, and, in a kind of Darwinian evolution, selecting only those firms that are able to foresee the opportunities and threats. It embraces all the functions of the business. Everything can start precisely from the strategy of a business. Many new business models have been devised in this period by those who have the vision to see business opportunities which did not exist until the day before. It’s necessary to re-adapt the strategy processes in order to be able to recognize and welcome the changes. Or just to stop a startup hindering the work you have done until now.

But recognizing incoming change may not be enough. It’s necessary to be able to manage the change. The internal organizational structure may need to be updated in order to host more flexible processes or a simplified structure that can implement new strategies. Timing is important for business competition, being reactive is vital. A key aspect that has been introduced by digitalization is the ability to test and revert back. Digital technologies have a pivotal role in the implementation of BPM (business process management) principles.

Those changes will impact the business overall. Examples are multiple. Operations have been drastically reconceived. It’s being talked about Industry 4.0 and Agriculture 2.0. IoT systems entering firms. Digital innovations are becoming part of all production services, not only reducing costs (leading to adapting cost strategy) but mainly improving product quality (adding the differentiation and quality strategy) and enabling higher customer intimacy in the services provided. The market itself is being hit by new ways of being in contact with clients, attracting them and extracting analysis and trends from customers. Everything starts from customers and ends with customers. New branches and jobs are created in the omnichannel marketing area. Also neurosciences are fed with tons of data for their inferences. Data is an important asset in a business, maybe the most important. It makes it easier to perform internal management control or get external insights. Branches like Big Data, Deep Learning or Neural Network find their space in the new mechanisms, or create their own new ones.

Digitalization is also updating the ways of interacting with credit, or of getting funds. New forms of financial services are being introduced that allow differentiation in sourcing or investments. It’s changed the way to approach innovation as well. Depending on strategies, relaxing the confines of internal research and being open to new ideas from outside could be options that would make it possible to generate a significant impact in the differentiation and innovation of a company’s own products or processes.

Those I’ve just mentioned could be only a few suggestions about what digital transformation could mean for present and future businesses, and for society as a whole. It’s a wide argument that is impossible to cover in just a few paragraphs. And it’s in constant evolution, following its characteristics and prospects. Learning and being able to handle all the aspects and functions of a business is becoming crucial. The i-Flex MBA program offered by MIP Politecnico di Milano wants to raise attention with regard to evolving digital trends. It’s structured to place the traditional MBA topics alongside emerging tendencies, revisiting the offer with a view to digital transformation tools and instruments which enable new competences. All the subjects mentioned above, and many others, will be part of your journey, both in the i-Flex MBA program and, more importantly, in your future working life.

Digital is no longer a reason for competitive advantage, rather, it is a reason to succumb if you have not adopted it in the right way.



About the author
Vito Conversano

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.


FLEX EMBA: the experience of a lifetime

It was 2014 when MIP launched the 1st Executive MBA in distance learning. Six years ago, it was a gamble. Today, it proved to have been forward-looking, indeed.

The pandemic forced a radical change in our habits, boosting digital revolution. Our workplaces moved to our homes, forcing us to juggle between work and family. We learnt to connect with people wherever they are, collaborating in new ways. Learning went digital, too.
Yet, adapting a course to be digitally delivered is not the same as designing it as “digital-native”, just as Vito Conversano, i-Flex student, explains:

“The inherent concept of the i-Flex program conceived a learning path which would already be online, hence there has been minimal impact following the restrictions and changes imposed by the critical situation. The teaching combines tools, documents and videos which can be followed remotely in your own time…”.

As our student suggests, it’s flexibility one of the main assets of our digitally delivered MBAs. The chance of studying wherever you are, whenever suits you best, gives to students the freedom to choose the program they prefer. This means having the opportunity to study at the Business School of Politecnico di Milano, one of the most outstanding technical universities in the world, without worrying about moving miles away from your family.
Moreover, this learning path is specifically designed to meet the erratic schedules of professionals, who may find it difficult to combine work and family commitments with an on-campus program.

All this is possible thanks to a state-of-the-art platform, which gives to our students the chance to attend classes and extracurricular activities just like if they were physically at MIP. Social media like WhatsApp, Facebook and Teams allow students to build relationships, to share experiences and interests and to create a real sense of belonging.
Indeed, classes may be digital, but the connections students build are real, just as highlights Elivar Golemi, i-Flex Alumna:

In general, there is prejudice toward online studying, based on the fact that learning isn’t just an intellectual activity, but a social one. […] That was my concern too, when I first decided to register for an international online EMBA program.
But as this challenging and important journey reaches its end, I no longer have any doubts about the choice I made almost two years ago. The social interaction aspect of the “online learning” process is not lacking at all, but of course it has changed form, through the use of digital platforms, just as the concepts of learning and knowledge have significantly changed lately […] it is obvious that there is an evolving shift from teaching to learning, which means more active participation in the gaining and sharing of knowledge among the participants of a learning community.

As our Alumna reports, the Flex format revolutionized not only the students’ experience, but also the professors’ way of teaching! Our faculty is specifically trained to conduct effective and engaging lectures in distance learning, to boost online discussion and to manage case study discussion in small virtual groups.

This – and much more – makes our Flex EMBA and International Flex EMBA top performer! Flex EMBAs has been the first courses in Italy to receive the EFMD EOOCS certification for online programmes of excellence; moreover, it is the only Italian distance learning programme to be included among the ten best in the world by the Financial Times.

Rankings and awards are important, but our students’ opinions are even more. Thus, when our Alumnus Ammar Akhtar described the International Flex EMBA as “the experience of a lifetime”, he made us prouder than ever.

A typical day as an i-Flex student – practical and theoretical advice for future students

One of the first questions that came to me when I had to choose whether to apply to the eMBA program was to see if I could manage to fit in my daily work and family tasks with the obviously demanding learning commitments.

The option of the executive program, which spreads the courses over 20 months instead of concentrating it into one single year, was a noteworthy point but, in any case, I would need to find time in an already tough working life.

The learning agenda is rich and, of course, activities to do vary from day to day. A weekly scheduling of tasks is necessary in order not to get into trouble and to get the maximum out of the class. Usually I try to dedicate two to three hours per day to academic responsibilities. Let me give you an idea, as far as is possible, of one of my typical i-Flex days.

  • Early wake-up to have breakfast with my family, talk with them for a few minutes and take my kids to school. I try to get ahead with my work and use the time commuting to my workplace for a status meeting. Morning meetings can often be held as early as 7.00 a.m. or 7.30 a.m.
  • The usual working day at the office starts from around 8.15 and the first few hours are very busy, so I cannot think about anything else, but I try to find some spare time around lunchtime so that I can watch some i-Flex video-clips. Work-related tasks rapidly start knocking on the door, however, and keep me busy until evening. A good tip, whenever possible and when there is nothing urgent on, is maybe to set up a meeting with yourself so as to be able to dedicate time to your own training.
  • Before leaving for home, in a quieter environment, it’s time for a last effort or to attend a live session. It is truly important to participate in classes, ask questions to clarify topics or listen to questions and comments from colleagues, to see the topic from other points of view and others’ experiences.
  • At home, finally, I can relax spending time with the kids: it’s true, at least at this age, kids recharge your batteries!!
  • Once the kids are sleeping (and this is usually very late), I can concentrate on other academic materials and make my contributions in the social forum. Take a rest to get ready for a new day.

Of course, special days are weekends, when is possible to catch up on any backlog which has built up during the week or have more time to spend with the family. Sometimes we have interesting meetings with i-Flex friends so that we can update each other on our daily lives, or review topics and assignments together.


I would like to mention a few pieces of advice to anyone who has the same doubts as I did when approaching the choice of an eMBA:

  • First at all, don’t underestimate the effort that an MBA requires, if the aim is to learn new concepts. Each subject has plenty of ideas to learn and cases to study. Is up to us to read and learn as much as we can or otherwise just to limit ourselves to summarising the main points;
  • Online is your friend, try to exploit as much as possible the possibility to learn in work breaks, during your commuting time or whenever you have a spare moment. The precious aspect of the online is that you decide when is the right time;
  • And this brings me to the other bit of advice: try to do as much as you can in advance, in order to make online classes and discussions with colleagues profitable. Motivation is necessary, as is organizing/scheduling your time and activities. The objective is not to sacrifice the other side of life so as not to lose enthusiasm.


I have to admit, follow all inputs that are being received is quite challenging, especially combining everything is wanted to do with the rest of the life, but let me add also that it’s worth thanks to all the experiences I’m doing, conversations shared with classmates and knowledge is getting me inspiring.



About the author
Vito Conversano

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.


«Between MIP and the Red Cross: study and work to help Lebanon»

Christian Lenz is enrolled in the i-Flex EMBA programme at MIP Politecnico di Milano. A course of study that he is able to follow from Beirut, where he leads a team of engineers involved with public health. Here he talks about the challenges of this job and reconciling his studies with such a challenging role


Working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a country like Lebanon and, at the same time, pursuing a master’s at MIP Politecnico di Milano. This is what Christian Lenz, deputy water and habitat coordinator for the organization and, at the same time, student in the 2019-2021 i-Flex course, does. A double commitment that undoubtedly leaves room for little else: «The pressure, both in my studies and in work, changes over time and can lead to significant levels of stress», he explains. «But there are also benefits. Thanks to the master’s, I’m more aware of the key issues when I draw up a budget, and I’ve developed a good background that allows me to understand the dynamics of the economic crisis in Lebanon. This has made my work more satisfactory, more technically sound and also more efficient».


The explosion of Beirut

Christian Lenz has worked for the ICRC for over four years. Currently, he is working for the department that deals with public health: «I lead a team of engineers. One key aspect is the integration of these activities in the broader spectrum of what the ICRC does, with the aim of maximizing the humanitarian impact». The dramatic event that took place in the Lebanese capital on 4 August (the explosion of a warehouse at the port, which killed more than 200 people and injured 7,000) required an enormous effort of Lenz and the ICRC: «The Red Cross is an organization used to operating in emergency situations, so we were able to respond immediately to the most urgent needs. The morning after the explosion, our engineers worked side by side with local authorities, restoring water supplies for 120,000 people by the end of the afternoon», he says. «We continue to respond to the pressing needs through provision of medical supplies, cash donations to the most impacted families, as well as mental health and psychosocial support to affected people».


Challenges, obstacles, emergencies: a different type of job

Therefore, Lenz’s work isn’t a job like all others, given the backdrop and the almost always difficult situations in which he operates: «The Red Cross is present in situations of armed conflict and violence. This increases the level of challenge compared to “normal” working environments. In addition to technical obstacles, we face other challenges: understanding the context in which we work, identifying the most pressing humanitarian needs and setting priorities, but also taking care of our staff and leading them in difficult conditions. In emergency situations, we are called on to make decisions based on limited information and then to come up with solutions that would be cost and time effective. It can be very stressful. In some situations, logistical constraints can slow down our work significantly».


The importance of soft skills in a humanitarian context

But if these challenges are eminently technical, it’s also true that it wouldn’t be possible to face them without excellent soft skills. Skills that Lenz is developing also thanks to the EMBA programme: «Soft skills allow you to deliver quality work, even when it’s of a technical nature. In a humanitarian context they are probably even more important: we are constantly finding ourselves in new and unknown situations. We work in multicultural teams, whose members come from dozens of countries. It’s extremely important to know how to approach things with an open mind, to be respectful, always maintaining a positive attitude. To find your bearings and develop meaningful strategies it’s essential to listen to others, whether they are colleagues or people affected by violence and armed conflict».


i-Flex: the advantages of a flexible format

In a context like this, it’s the i-Flex format that allows Lenz to attend the EMBA programme: «It is almost entirely digital. Coming from a traditional approach, at first it scared me. But during the first week, held in-person, we were introduced to the concepts of online education and collaboration. I adapted and learned quickly that online education and collaboration represent the future. Interactions with my classmates are enjoyable. I recommend the i-Flex to anyone who is interested in a high quality international EMBA and requires flexibility both in terms of time and geography».


i-Flex networking experience

Digital and “spread” classrooms, distance learning and international spirit: which are the benefits, the challenges and the incentives of building an i-Flex network?

The choice of a learning path is never a simple step. It will require you to dedicate your time, energy and also money. Especially for a master, it will affect your life for several months. There is no second opportunity, so it would be worth weighing up your decision. With the increase in online courses, the first question that comes to mind is whether these have the same value, in terms of knowledge, experience and overall job market recognition, as a traditional one.

One of the biggest differences between an online and a traditional course is the common concept that a traditional class reinforces the relationship among students. The social contribution of a course is vital, as well as the knowledge learnt during the course itself. Discussions with colleagues, the sharing and comparing of new ideas, working groups or pure networking all enable skills that enrich the training offer. There is no doubt that a face-to-face class has all those characteristics. But are we sure that they cannot be replicated in a remote class? Nowadays, we are living in a social world and everyone is in the habit of interacting with others on social media using the most varied tools. Chatting, speaking and video calling far-off people is a practice which takes place several times a day. It can start friendships and enable you to get in touch with people without any need to organize demanding trips. Furthermore, in this way, you can also get in touch with friends who are located very far away, even on the other side of the world. So why not benefit from such tools and adopt them in order to complete the learning path? This should not be a substitute for frontal lessons but can be considered as something that provides added value to the lessons. Being in an international class brings a variety of cultures and points of view that can be very different from the usual ones. By giving people, who could not otherwise attend, consent to access distance learning courses, the composition of the class is more diversified. Moreover, most jobs are already designed in this mode, being agile and involving collaboration with people who are not in the same workplace. A situation analogous to remote working groups can be created within distance learning. Groups are part of the learning process. And what remains when the course has ended? A solid network already trained for the whole ongoing program, in the sense of continuity and staying connected.

As I was saying, having online lessons should be complementary to an initial, face-to-face approach. As for any type of relationship, it’s necessary to trust other students when sharing questions of clarification or when targeting collaborative assignments. Trust takes longer to build at a distance and real contact can speed it up. The i-Flex program thinks exactly in this way. An initial week is mandatory in order to aid the establishing of trust among students in a teamwork perspective. This week is also useful to get to know the faculty processes and professors with a few face-to-face lessons. Anyone who has experimented with agile work knows that teamworking at a distance is totally different from working at the same table. There is the coordination of meeting times to be considered, collaboration without physical interaction, the need for training with regard to work alignment, as well as for the many assignments in working groups. Most of us are practitioners and professionals. Combining work and study may become a tough challenge which requires finding and keeping focus and enthusiasm on your own. The true difference from a traditional course is exactly that. On one hand, it allows so much more flexibility, choosing the most suitable time in accordance with other engagements, but on the other hand it requires strong determination and self-motivation to keep assignments with other students and to maintain your overall study plan. And if that is not enough, there are many additional complementary activities like business games, new idea challenges and webinars that help us get to know each other better, share interests and also provide support for extracurricular issues, and to build stronger relationships among us: a cohesive network.

I have definitively found many new friends. Of course, if we could have been in the same city we might have met up more frequently for dinner together but we are still in touch very often, even sometimes every day, and honestly this would not have been possible alongside all the other commitments of daily life. It’s a tough task, choosing which type of master to follow, with pros and cons for each program. Personally, the international context and networking were essential to me. With the quality level of classes being comparable, moving over to a digital platform just better matched my needs for flexibility and for maintaining long distance relations with my new friends.


About the author
Vito Conversano

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.


Learning in pandemic times

The spring of 2020 came with some unexpected news: with the arrival of a pandemic emergency, everything needed to be changed.

All businesses, from manufacturing firms, small retail companies and even single professionals, had to review their way of operating in order to adapt to distance working. Normal life became familiarized, with major and minor difficulties, with the policy restrictions imposed by each government. And, of course, education has also been impacted by the necessity to deal with the impossibility of having face-to-face lessons.

The widespread concept of didactics includes three main components. Essential is the ability to transfer knowledge, including theories, principles, models and best practices. The student needs to understand the “know” of a specific subject, through personal study and direct clarifications. But then with the next step comes the “know-how” to apply the knowledge to cases and problems. It needs practice and exercises to build skills, considering hard skills relating to the subject but also soft skills, more and more important in today’s working environments. And once the topic is clear, you are able to apply, socialize with other students and practitioners, trial real cases and review them with professional and personal experiences where they have been already faced. In other words, create your demonstrable and recognized competences.

When switching from an onsite to a remote approach, considerations go beyond only being enabled to participate in lessons from home. It’s necessary to reformulate the way of explaining, teaching and helping the student to learn. It is surely a process that needs time to reorganize and to prepare the required tools. In this context, the i-Flex program makes its entry. By now, I have been following the i-Flex Executive Master in Business Administration at MIP for several months. The inherent concept of the i-Flex program conceived a learning path which would already be online, hence there has been minimal impact following the restrictions and changes imposed by the critical situation. The teaching combines tools, documents and videos which can be followed remotely in your own time, lessons via video conferencing with professors, series of additional webinars to improve learning and review concepts, forums where you can meet other students and professors in order to refine understandings, and so many other things.

Distance learning comes with additional benefits such as a customized path, extracurricular materials and insights, and a personalized schedule. Considering that “out of crisis comes opportunity”, what better occasion to appreciate what distance learning allows you to achieve?

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger ̶ but recognize the opportunity.”

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.