The importance of model contamination in everyday life

Usually we tend to apply what we learn in specific fields only in that field; we study it and rarely do we contaminate models coming from different disciplines. As a matter of fact, however, a lot of scientific findings come from interdisciplinary researchers. For example, Daniel Kahneman, one of a countless list, discovered the two systems of thought by using psychology, behavioural economics and decision-making principles. Finally, as a psychologist, he won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

In our normal lives (unless working in research) we are not asked to study to expand human knowledge, but we can do something easier and more effective just by applying to our daily routine what university courses have taught us in specific modules. We could use financial principles to better plan our household budget; we could use some supplier evaluation models when it comes to buying a new piece of furniture, or we could apply some marketing rules when we need, for example, to promote ourselves.

Speaking about careers, what I think could be useful is to gather and apply some of the university teachings that can help us to have a better and more efficient career; and this is what the Career Development Center at MIP pushes candidates to do alongside their formal MBA lessons.

For example, in some lessons the lecturer encouraged us to think of our personal career as a real project to manage, with achievable objectives (such as a position to reach or a company to work for) within a defined timeframe; activities to be planned that can enable us to gain an interview and to master it; resource allocation (not only the time to spend weekly on top of our working hours, but also investments in specific courses or a premium subscription for some professional networking platform). Then there is the monitor and control phase and, really importantly, also the “change request” analysis: it is not unusual to change the scope after a period of maturation.

Another topic imported from formal studies is professional network management. Network theory is used in many disciplines such as statistics, computer science, electrical engineering, as well as sociology and neuroscience. We saw it applied for career purposes. During the courses, the lecturers encouraged us to write down a list of our personal contacts, starting from our first position up until our current job, with the field of specialization, the background and the possible connection with the company we aimed to work for or the position we planned to apply for. It might be surprising that while writing the list, more information and connections between our contacts (that we had not thought of before) popped into our minds.

Of course, simply planning their career and creating a map of contacts to systematically nurture does not ensure that the candidate will attain their desired position. There are professionals who achieve their goals without these tools and, at the same time, others who, despite their efforts, do not reach the position they desire. I think that these two instruments (together with others touched on during the Career Development courses), if consistently applied, represent a great help in defining our position on the career path. Sometimes we apply for jobs automatically and later realize that the road we are following is wrong, or not perfectly aligned. To have a map to refer to (and to fine-tune regularly) enables us to know exactly where we are, to change route, and to deepen our knowledge of matters that can help us during our career journey.

What is important is to be consistent and to beware of the mental obstacles that occur. The phrases within us like “I know a lot already”, “theory is easier than practice”, “I am who I am; I cannot change” are the worst enemies we can face during our path. They are inside us and are harder to beat because they are part of us. But like in sport or with positive habits, the hardest part is at the beginning. Once we start to work with these tools, they become part of our routine and essential to demonstrate our clear positioning during interviews.


About the author
Luca Bianchi
International sales manager for a multinational logistics company and part of the young group of the Freight Leader Council, I would define myself as curious, ambitious and continuously disposed to improve. Strong supporter of cross-functional experiences, job rotation, teamwork and lifelong learning, my objective is to be constantly able to see challenges from different perspectives and to be adaptable in this ever-changing environment.


That’s all folks (?): the project work as the climax of my two-year-long MBA experience

That’s all Folks!

No, this is not the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon. This is the end of a personal growth path undertaken in the last two years of studying for the International Part-Time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. Two years full of hard work but also plenty of satisfactions. Two years in which I consolidated my knowledge in the Supply Chain field, but which allowed me to get to know and explore other areas of interest in more depth, from Corporate Finance to Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Brick after brick, I think I managed to consolidate the foundations and build that castle that makes me feel, today, a better professional than I was in October 2019.

Now I would like to focus on the culmination of my journey: Closet Relay, the object of my project work. Closet Relay is a business idea which was born among MIP’s desks, starting from the concepts learned in the Innovation Leadership course, with my fellow adventurer, Alessandro Calvino, and my colleagues, Marco Postorino and Elisa Serra.

The goal was to create a digital platform focused on the long-term rental of luxury clothing and accessories for children. How many times during your childhood did you hear your parents saying: “Better buy it a bigger size, so it’ll fit you for longer?” And, in fact, this is what often happens to children, as in 47% of cases, their clothes are disposed of due to an issue relating to size and fit. This fact causes an enormous environmental impact, feeding the 92 million tonnes of textile waste generated worldwide every year.

Closet Relay, with its long-term rental business model for luxury garments, would allow the useful life of the products to be extended by up to three times. And this effect would be further amplified by the creation of an “outlet” channel, dedicated to the sale of second-hand garments that can no longer be rented as they are not being worn any more (they are no longer considered “as new”).

To develop this idea, we have applied most of the concepts learned in the last two years: from strategic planning (internal and external analysis, market positioning, competitor analysis), to marketing (touchpoints and customer journeys), from logistics to financial planning.

We have also applied innovative simulation techniques, such as Monte Carlo analysis. This allowed us to identify the optimal rental price configurations, mix of items and logistics networks.

Closet Relay not only allowed us to end our MBA path with “icing on the cake”, but also to win a prestigious international contest in the luxury sector: the Mark Challenge contest, organized by the University of Monaco.

This has given us good international visibility, but, above all, it has allowed us to get in touch with professionals, investors and companies which helped us in further improving ourselves. And who knew that this idea, born among MIP’s desks, could one day become a beautiful reality?

So, are we sure “That’s all folks”? Maybe not. After all, as an old Hindi saying goes: “Never Stop Learning Because Life Never Stops Teaching”.


About the author
Marco Di Salvio

Alumnus of the International Part Time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano.
Industrial Engineer currently working @ Gucci as WW Supply & Demand Planner, based in Florence.
Tech passionate, Cinema-lover, Sports addicted.
Solving the world’s problems one spreadsheet at a time.


Anyone can take part in a Part-Time MBA: the more diverse the people, the richer the experience

After the discussion of our Project Work, Edoardo and I were hanging out, relieved and relaxed, waiting for our colleagues Giuseppe and Antonio so that we could go and celebrate together. We began summing up our feelings, our emotions, and our understandings at the end of those two intense years of the Part-Time MBA.

F: Why did you decide to enrol in an MBA course at MIP? Since I decided that an MBA was the step I was missing in my learning path, choosing MIP was quite easy. I’m an engineer, Politecnico di Milano is my alma mater, and I knew that I wanted a focus on innovation and technology. But you have a different background!

E: You’re right. I achieved a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages for International Relations, which gave me a solid base of linguistic skills and robust theoretical knowledge to help me to develop very useful soft skills, in particular negotiation and cultural intelligence. I also learnt the initial models of micro- and macroeconomics. Those skills were crucial in the early part of my career, in a sales department managing stakeholder relations and interests and working out internal processes. What about you? In class you were one of the few with a role in operations. I can still remember when you introduced yourself on the first day: “My working background is on construction sites, a tough, harsh environment: along with learning, I’m here to improve my relational soft skills, so if you perceive me as rough, please tell me”. Do you think you’ve achieved your aims?

F: Among people in sales, marketing, HR, R&D, planning and consulting roles, we’re a true minority! And as far as my soft skills are concerned, I think I’ve succeeded. Teamwork was a real challenge for me at the beginning, and a couple of hours ago we delivered a project that is the synthesis of the passion and efforts of four different minds and strong personalities. Conflicts forced me to practice emotional intelligence, tight deadlines to collaborate, different mindsets and backgrounds to train adaptability. I was able to listen and learn from all my colleagues, and I was amazed by your ability to de-escalate disharmony in our team, like a conductor recalling soloists to the music. How about your soft skills journey?

E: At the beginning, I can say that I had an advantage. I think commercial roles are true gyms for quickly developing soft skills, exposing you to various situations when people, interests, behaviours, and expectations must be put together on the same scale. But facing different working styles was a challenge for me too: I was worried that three engineers in the same team as me might be a nightmare! In particular, my biggest fear was that the gap in scientific and technical knowledge between me and you would prevent efficient communication and teamwork. Quite the opposite! One of the most important lessons is to transform differences in values, together, as a team. In fact, what I didn’t expect on my MBA journey was that classmates are not just a part of the package but the glasses that make you focus better and, often, the reason why you won’t give up.

F: That’s part of the biggest question. What about your initial expectations, two years later?

E: Take a step backwards. My work training was a “learning on the job” style: I often had the chance to verify and reject the effectiveness of my theoretical knowledge on the ground. Despite this experience, it was crystal clear in my mind that something was missing: I had many dots in my mind but still, few links. And this applies both to my learning and my career path, as I like to think of them linked together. To be honest, I was a bit lost too; rushing through everyday life wasn’t allowing me to put things in order and there was increasing chaos. I needed a roadmap for my personal career, but above all for my immediate future.
The outcome of the MBA experience? I took one step back and a deep breath, and I can now see the bigger picture! Dedicating the last two years to my personal growth has put everything else into perspective and given me a new, specific knowledge and mindset about who I should (and want to) be as a professional. I have collected a lot of specific hints and precise directions to dive deeper into what most interests me.

F: I had similar feelings when I was evaluating whether a Part-Time MBA at MIP was the right choice for me. The lack of a bigger picture was a trigger for me too. If I wanted to be the main character in my future career, I needed to change my point of view to set the path. I felt like I was walking in the jungle and I felt stuck in an environment that I knew and I was able to face, but I was not completely aware of the dynamics and the final destination of my path. I decided to climb the hill and reach the observation point so that I could understand where I was and decide where I wanted to go.
This mindset of curiosity, an openness and a propensity to get involved are keys to achieving a change in your point of view. And I agree when you say that colleagues help us to focus better on this target: a shared involvement helps you to overcome your personal limits and accept new challenges. We learn during the classes, but we also learn from each other: I can’t count how many times seeing different approaches and expertise at work amazed me and helped me to improve myself. Do you remember how we, the three engineers on the project work, were amazed by your perception map?

E: That was cool! But I should say, “the three engineers” is a joke: your personalities and approaches are so different! And I should say, this is a real chance to learn. The more diverse the people you work with, the more opportunities you have to be enriched.

F: I’m grateful to have shared my MBA experience with such diverse people. From the top of the hill, each of us will leave with new targets and a new path: but we’ll definitely keep in touch, we’ve shared such a meaningful period in our lives.


About the authors
Fabrizio Liponi

My name is Fabrizio and I work as a tunnel engineer in the construction of Underground Line 4 of Milan. Born, raised, studied, living and working in Milan: I love my city and I’m proud to take part in building its future. Travel addicted, I love to meet people and different cultures.

Edoardo Samanni

I am Edoardo, and, having been adopted by Milan since my university studies, I still work here as a Sales Operations Specialist in the telecommunications industry.I am passionate about Asia, whose culture, traditions, people, landscapes, atmosphere and cuisine represent some of my best memories from my studies, travels and life.I strongly believe that a collective effort can lead to a more equal society and to a healthier world.




Specialize your MBA: choose what interests you most

The MBA experience at MIP is a choice towards empowerment and improvement: we want to strengthen our network, expand our horizons and increase our knowledge with lectures, seminars and hands-on experiences. In the International Part-Time MBA we have different cultural and academic backgrounds and work in a variety of industries: the diversity in the group is an opportunity for mutual enrichment, but on the other hand, each of us would like to explore different topics in more depth.

To this extent, our journey as students includes a personal window to implement the core courses with complementary ones of our own choice offered in the form of bootcamps. Those consist in a whole week deputed to delve into a specific multidisciplinary business problem: lectures by MIP Faculty professors are complemented by seminars given by professionals working in the industry to delineate a complete framework.
From a general overview, we are led to diving into the matter and given the knowledge to interpret the context and the tools to figure out a strategy for developing a solution with a teamwork assessment of a real problem. Moreover, bootcamps are offered to the wider community of MBA students at MIP, allowing us to combine our experiences, meet and enlarge our network.

Personally, I decided to attend the bootcamp on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data: I picked this one because I had pinpointed opportunities to apply it both in my job and in my future career and because it could provide ideas and suggestions for the project work, as with my group we aim to transform it into a real business project. As a team, we highlighted which bootcamps could provide insights to enrich our idea and split them between us in order to share the outcomes.

At the end of my personal window I can say that my expectations were exceeded: in particular, I ended up the bootcamp with a fresh new approach to the data I have to deal with in my job, applying the tools I learned to use to real problems and collecting new results. Moreover, this awareness triggered an interest to delve into the topic on my own, exploiting the solid structure of knowledge offered by the course.

Furthermore, some of the insights into the most recent technology and the strategy to get the most out of it was a game-changer for the project work: I was able to find out how to improve our business idea by optimizing the cost structure while reducing the amount of data to be treated.

Eventually, I met many other MIP students, especially those enrolled in the Full-Time MBA whom we had had few opportunities to meet in person due to the pandemic: I found among them the same target of builders of the future that I experience among my colleagues, nurturing my awareness of the potential of opportunities of the alumni network.

In the end, I think that the personal window is a hint of the mindset we have to maintain in our future, right after the graduation: we need to scan the opportunities out there and choose the ones that fit best to set the pace of our career and drive our projects.


About the author
Fabrizio Liponi

My name is Fabrizio and I work as a tunnel engineer in the construction of Underground Line 4 of Milan. Born, raised, studied, living and working in Milan: I love my city and I’m proud to take part in building its future. Travel addicted, I love to meet people and different cultures.



Sustainability: are we as employees doing it right?

In 2019, 181 CEOs of the largest American companies signed a document in which the primacy of shareholders was questioned, and the fact was highlighted that in order to create value, it is necessary to focus on three pillars: the ecological impact of the business, the respect for customers and the safety and happiness of the workers. Similarly, in the same year, another 32 international companies signed the first “Fashion Pact” by sharing a series of objectives around three key themes: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans.

It is clear that corporates all around the world are going from a “profit first” objective to a “sustainability first” vision. And this is of course an answer to the huge awareness and attention of the customers in relation to ethics and shared value creation. Especially after the pandemic we have been facing, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 citizens, globally, wish to live in a more sustainable and equitable world.

But the choice to operate differently, respecting the pillars mentioned above, is not free of charge. It means that we need to act responsibly internally but that it is also necessary to control the whole value chain, paying more for different materials, only having relationships with suppliers that give employees good working conditions and who, in turn, control their own value chain and their own suppliers. At the same time, companies should also control the downstream use of their products (or services), instructing customers in the correct use and recycling of the goods.

How should we cope with this complexity? Surely now more than ever companies need to hire (and let themselves be led by) purpose-oriented people. I see it as a two-way circle: top-down and bottom-up.

CEOs (pushed by entrepreneurs and/or shareholders) need to update their policies, adjust the ways of incentivising people, take care of their supplier’s behaviour and, at the same time, the employees have to respect the new policies, give their contribution to something bigger than solely profit and, in turn, hire people with a vison that includes paying attention to social responsibility.

There is also the other way, when the organization is slower and less disposed to social change: we, as employees, could make our contribution by highlighting different ways of doing business, proposing new materials or changing tender characteristics for new suppliers, suggesting external pro-bono activities, evaluating both the short-term and long-term impact of the marketed products. In my opinion this is the tougher route to follow, a sort of “call to arms”, especially if we are in an “ancient” environment where profit is the only keyword that rules. But this is the way that leaves a really valuable and remarkable impact; starting from the base always makes the final result more considerable and significant.

If it is true that companies do not hire only for skills but also for attitude (or they ought to), I think that now more than ever it is important, during internal meetings, head-to-head discussions, or external interviews, that we, as people − rather than as employees − should demonstrate our life purpose and any contribution to all kinds of social activities. This is tricky, because it is easy to fall into the “moral hazard” trap, feeling “forced” to do something only because of the final incentive; it should come naturally from within us. Furthermore, showing interest in the societal, cultural or environmental field with personal insights or practical activities is an important differentiating feature that might improve our chances of being hired by the company we really want to work for.

As citizens, we have also another “duty”: to give our time and energy to companies, schools and institutions that show (or at least, are starting to show) a sustainability vocation. In 2006, three friends created an organization dedicated to making it easier for mission-driven companies to protect and improve their positive impact over time. We see the results of their efforts every time we come across the term B-Corporation, in other words, companies that have received a certification administered by the non-profit B Lab, based in part on a company’s verified performance in a benefit impact assessment. I am glad that MIP, the school I have decided to attend, is one of the over 3,500 Certified B Corporations all over the world. It means they are using business as a force primarily for good. For example, one of the activities MIP is going to implement this year is to help four non-profit organizations to efficiently improve their processes and, consequently, the impact in the real world.

As an analogy, I think that corporate social responsibility is becoming the “website” of some years ago: in the past, it was something special that only a few companies could afford; after some years, it became something important to have, also for enterprises of other sizes to be able to sell globally; then became a must-have, and now it is simply taken for granted: soon, companies will not have a business unless they pay real attention to sustainable themes. We need to demonstrate our vocation to these topics, first as human beings and then as excellent employees to hire.


About the author
Luca Bianchi
National Account Manager for a multinational logistics company and part of the young group of the Freight Leader Council, I would define myself as curious, ambitious and continuously disposed to improve. A strong supporter of cross-functional experiences, job rotation, teamwork and lifelong learning, my objective is to be constantly able to see challenges from different perspectives and to be adaptable in this ever-changing environment..


Milan, a sustainable city

Milan, surely the most unique Italian city, is different in so many aspects from the rest of Italy but definitely 100% Italian. At the northern part of the country, close to the Alps, the second city by population focuses its energies on work, finance and industry, art, fashion and design, cultural and entertainment events, nightlife and, most of all, continuous innovation.

While at the university I have started to search for interesting places around the city, discovering some treasures like the Planetarium in Porta Venezia which has a representation of Milan’s skyline as it was in the 1930s, when no building was allowed to be higher than the Madonnina statue on the top of the Duomo Cathedral. While walking in the centre by night, when everything is silent, I have found countless beautiful old buildings full of statues and covered with climbing plants − the feeling is that you’re wandering through places full of history. The Cathedral itself is an enchanting structure characterized by a mixture of many architectural styles that have been adopted over the six hundred years of its construction. This last is an example of the “Milanese” way: the continuous overlap of magnificent ideas shuffled with several changes of schedule that in the end, lead to an outstanding result.

The last decade has seen the completion of several redevelopment projects in the outskirts to meet the needs of both international companies in locating their main offices and HQ in Milan and of citizens, by creating new places designed to have a positive impact on social life. For instance, Gae Aulenti and Tre Torri squares have brought fresh air to the city, providing new areas in which to go for a walk, enjoy the good weather or just admire beautiful pieces of modern architecture.

The redevelopment gained more awareness after the announcement of the Milano Cortina Olympic Winter Games 2026. Investments have been directed to enhance the services offered by the city with a major focus on being sustainable, because the aim is also to use them for the future development of the city. The 2015 World Exposition area is now under redevelopment for the MIND project, aka the Milano Innovation District, where the structures, landscape and public spaces already available are going to be renovated into an innovative ecosystem and catalyst for social and economic growth. The area of 1.1 million square metres will be split into sub-areas to be allocated to the different authorities that will benefit from this project, i.e. public institutions, private companies, universities, etc, but mainly the entire population of Milan: the Human Technopole (a research institute for life sciences) will be situated here, as well as a new hospital and a new branch of the University of Milan, to mention just a few. Anyway, in my opinion the most interesting is the Fondazione Triulza, the scope of which is the development of innovation by creating start-ups, employment and networks focusing on a positive social and environmental impact. The good news is that MIND will be at a stone’s throw from MIP Politecnico di Milano, where I am currently attending the International MBA.

Despite the fact that the region is extremely industrialized and problematic in terms of air pollution, Milan has been the only Italian city to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by 2020. The Department of Environmental Transition, reporting directly to the Mayor, has recently launched a new project for ecological transition, the Milano MIX, that focuses on waste management, zero carbon transportation, the empowering of public transportation, bikes and vehicle-sharing services, etc. This project also includes the NRG2Peers platform, in partnership with the Politecnico di Milano and other European institutions, in order to share and therefore support the energy transition experiences.

In any event, together with the huge investments mentioned above there are a lot of minor initiatives involving not only the Municipality but also private companies. The main arterial roads have been enriched with wide cycle lanes, while several mobility sharing services, mainly with electrical solutions, have spread to literally everywhere in the city. Thanks to smartphone technologies, people have various services available, developed for everyone who wants to make sustainable choices every day, e.g. the zero kilometres platforms that allow the final customers to buy seasonal vegetables or other fresh products directly from producers.

Milan manages to provide a complete Italian experience with an ancient city centre crowded with old architecture and the modern districts that are evolving all around. Several projects are in the pipeline which are focusing on ecology and sustainability as their main targets, and this mindset is perceptible in all the aspects of the city life and widely supported by the citizens. The road is still long but the path is set, and I am very curious to see the effects of all the projects mentioned and how the city will face new challenges in future. I have no doubt that everything Milan has accomplished is, as in the words of H.G. Wells, but the dream before the awakening.


About the author
Simone Moscato

Having graduated at Politecnico di Milano, Simone is now working as a civil engineer in an international EPC Company while attending the International MBA at MIP. An enthusiast for travelling and fighting sports, he’s always searching for new challenges. After years, he’s still struggling to learn how to play the guitar.



Covid-19 “unprecedented times” and how to take advantage of them through reskilling

As every email introduction has reminded us in 2020, we’re living in “unprecedented times”. Covid has hit us this past year, and it hit us hard.

The last analysis of the World Labor Organization reports an increase of unemployed people of 33 million at worldwide level. This scenario obviously affects the dreams of career growth of many young people, since a phase of recession brings lower revenues for companies. Therefore, the budget for new hires and/or for the growth of employees gets lower and lower. Besides, for entrepreneurs, a stagnant economic situation can only be reflected in greater risks.

We might think that such a condition could heavily impact applications for postgraduate programs, such as the Master in Business Administration (MBA). But that is not the case.

With the pandemic recession in full bloom, business schools all over the world are instead reporting enormous increases (most times double-digit!) in applications. Why?

The reason is quite simple: until last year, the economy was so strong that prospective MBA students saw plenty of opportunities in front of them without having to go back to school. When a recession kicks in, however, the opportunity cost of enrolling in an MBA and updating your skills goes down and applications zoom up.

We live in times of exponential change and this pandemic has hit fast forward on many trends, from e-commerce to workplace culture. As Albert Einstein once said:

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

And in the “unprecedented times” like the ones we’re living through, this ability to change will be more and more crucial. The “executives of the past” will no longer fit into this new environment. Dealing with remote teams, keeping motivation high, pushing delegation, working with a goal-oriented approach rather than a working-hours-oriented approach: these are only a few of the many skills needed right now, which the old generation of managers was not used to. A McKinsey study of 2020 stated that 14% of the workforce needs to be fully reskilled and 40% needs to be partially reskilled.

The results? The “old generation” of managers will have to make a choice: to change or to be replaced. It can seem easy, but to change, to reskill yourself, you need to get back in the game. You must question yourself and your previous knowledge.

And this is exactly what I did just over a year ago, when I enrolled in the MIP International Part-Time MBA.

Now, the question you probably want to ask me is: “Were you able to achieve this change?”

I’m not the one who should answer this, but from my perspective I would say “yes!”. I am studying in an international context and this is allowing me to deal with many professionals with different backgrounds and different ways of thinking. This is a great life-gym to learn how to work in a dynamic environment.

Furthermore, handling projects and assignments remotely with international teams allows you to exponentially improve your management skills, time optimization, goal setting and task scheduling − not to mention delegation and coordination skills.

Finally, we come to the topic of Covid and how it impacts MBA students. To talk about it I want to use a metaphorical version of the law of supply and demand (I promise not to go into complex discussions on the labor market, IS-LM curve, etc. You can find these topics much better written about in the Financial Times). As most of you already know, a simultaneous increase in demand (candidates for a job, in our case) and a reduction in the supply of this good (managerial positions, for example), physiologically leads to an increase in prices. What is this “metaphorical price” for us?

This price is the distinctive skills required by the market for managerial roles. In a nutshell, measuring the skills of a person from 1 (limited skills) to 10 (excellent skills), if previously a “7” would have been enough to take on a managerial role, right now you will probably need a “9”. And a 7-to-9 gap is an important gap!

An MBA can help fill it, enabling you to become more and more frequently that “ideal candidate” that companies are (or will be) seeking with increasing selectivity.

So, let’s try to look at the silver lining here: Covid has brought enormous obstacles, but it has also created new opportunities that we must be able to exploit. It shuffled the cards. The previous game (the pre-Covid situation) is now over and, as an old saying goes: ”Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box”. Well, if right now we think we’re pawns, let’s try to work and study to be the next king.


About the author
Marco Di Salvio

Student of the International Part Time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano.
Industrial Engineer currently working @ Gucci as WW Supply & Demand Planner, based in Florence.
Tech passionate, Cinema-lover, Sports addicted.
Solving the world’s problems one spreadsheet at a time.



A mind map for the motivational interview

The motivational interview could be carried out by asking (and answering) only one question: “Why are you here?” −  a simple, direct, genuine and essential inquiry with a huge range of possible answers. Open questions like this, such as the renowned “tell me about a topic of your choice” during an exam, are sometimes harder to answer than specific questions; you feel lucky because they seem simple to answer but at the same time, the pressure grows since you feel you cannot fail when presented with such a unique and unrepeatable opportunity. If you are used to answering direct and precise questions and are not expecting to speak about the wider scope, you should work on creating flexible structures that could help with both open and closed questions.I have quite a clear memory of my MBA motivational interview and I can remember a simple but tricky question I honestly hadn’t prepared for all that much, because I took it for granted: Why MIP? An MBA is obviously provided by so many institutes here in Italy, abroad and remotely. If you decided to apply for the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano there must surely be a real and valid reason. My advice is not to consider this question as trivial and also to have an in-depth look at all the initiatives undertaken by the school, so as to be prepared.

Anyway, the topics which I think it is really important to focus on are these four as a minimum: the mental side, the practical side, the areas of improvement and behaviour and culture. You should create a mind map, tidying up all your thoughts with hierarchies, branches and sub-branches in order to get a blueprint that can help you when wider open questions are asked.

By the mental side, I mean all the thoughts about your professional life so far and your future vision. As far as the past is concerned, a misleading topic is your background: do two different people, with the same university degree and same experience in the same company have the same background? Definitely not, because what you have done in the past it is not what is important but rather, how your past experiences have forged who you are and what you think now. My advice is, when you are asked to talk about your background, always link the challenges you have faced with your actual behaviour. And it is the same for the present, your resumé surely explains what you are doing; you need instead to explain how your daily work is shaping your attitudes. When it comes to the future, you need to express your goals and your “vision”. Maybe it is not too much to talk about your “ikigai”, the reason why you wake up in the morning. If you are investing time, energy and money in a Master, is because you have realized that for you, work is not the means to earn a salary, but a way of expressing yourself. The “golden circle” by Simon Sinek, explained in one of the most viewed Tedx® videos, pushes you to focus on the “why” of your ideas and actions and only afterwards on the what and the how. Before my interview, I watched it several times to gather all the implied nuances.

The practical side is about the skills you have. Practical does not mean tangible − both hard and soft skills could be considered practical. With this term, I mean your ability to turn problems into solutions by using your skills. Saying that you are a heavy user of Excel is important, but you have to demonstrate that your ability to use Excel helps your department, or the organization, to achieve tangible results. You will not be accepted (and hired) because you have attended a course on coding or because you are an organised person; you will be chosen from among a list of candidates if you are able to demonstrate how to leverage your knowledge for concrete results. MIP is the business branch of a technical school but the importance they place on soft skills is high and the collateral lectures on these subjects are both current and numerous. Surely soft skills are difficult to define and measure, they are usually interpersonal and, even worse, sometimes you cannot learn them if you do not perform them. What helped me were examples from my life apart from working hours, sports-related and social activities.

The era of “tell me about three of your strengths and three of your weaknesses” is quite old-fashioned; of course this is a tricky question and the first time someone asks this, the interviewee has some difficulty for the same reason as for the open questions mentioned above. But then word spreads and before an interview, all the candidates prepare a short list of adjectives for their own convenience. I would focus and be prepared on areas of improvement. As seen before, you have a vision and goals; along the path you have acquired, learned and sharpened new skills but you have also realized that something is missing. Talking about any personal downside during an interview might seem like a not-so-savvy strategy: instead, I think that if you have in mind a well-structured gap analysis of what you need to reach your objectives and how to improve and offset the divide, this proves a high level of maturity.

Sometimes, the last lines of a CV are about hobbies or activities performed during your spare time; it seems as if we are forced to fill in some blank spaces and to write something appealing. Most of the time they are all the same: travel, sport, DIY, books, cinema and so on. Actually, the question behind these lines is not unimportant: “Who you are, apart from your job?” But can we consider ourselves to be two different entities, one who performs a job and one who simply “lives”? I think that our attitude, our way of approaching problems, our behaviour during working hours should reflect − or at least, be similar to − our behaviour at our place of work. Some executives I have met along my path were really good at other activities not directly linked to the job (e.g. marathon runner, videogame award winner, or guitar player). Behaviour depends on personal culture and if you also demonstrate your ability in other fields, you can prove a linear way of conducting yourself.

My last piece of advice is to consider the MIP motivational interview mostly as a personal review. More than an “exam”, my interview was a rich and fertile discussion. From my side, I talked about my expectations and doubts; the interviewer needed to understand the fit with my profile. At the end, I was even more convinced to become part of this school and if I were now asked to give one reason to choose MIP, I would definitely say because of its international vocation in every aspect of the path.


About the author
Luca Bianchi
National Account Manager for a multinational logistics company and part of the young group of the Freight Leader Council, I would define myself as curious, ambitious and continuously disposed to improve. A strong supporter of cross-functional experiences, job rotation, teamwork and lifelong learning, my objective is to be constantly able to see challenges from different perspectives and to be adaptable in this ever-changing environment..


The right mindset in a changing global context

It’s already been four months since I started my experience as an MBA student at MIP. I am still struggling to find a new comfort zone while organizing my time daily to fulfil my tasks at work, while preparing both the individual and the group assignments necessary to pass the exams without forgetting to clean the flat, go to the supermarket, do some sport and finally, get some rest.

The International MBA I have chosen is a part-time program that lasts two years. I knew it would be challenging but I have to admit that it’s not easy to predict in advance how much effort is required to work and study at the same time. I constantly need to plan my activities days ahead, I set personal deadlines for assignments and online lessons, considering that one of my goals is also to keep the quality of the work I do for my job as high as possible.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 emergency is pushing companies and universities to be much more flexible while scheduling activities, considering and alternating both in-presence and from-home solutions. We’re using all the features that technology can offer, not only to live our new routine as best we can but unfortunately, also to keep our distance from people.

Actually, we should at least try to take some advantages from this emergency. In Italy, due to the non-stop changing of the restrictions imposed weekly by the government, companies are redesigning their businesses and employees’ tasks so as not to stop production, engineering works, sales or any other valuable function. There is an extremely low likelihood of a global pandemic breaking out and no company had made adequate  preparations for facing one. This is the real challenge, after all: being able to take advantage of adverse situations, especially when they affect the whole industry including direct competitors. Unexplored strategies can speed up responsiveness and make the difference now, far more than was the case in previous years.

I’ve grown up in a global context that has changed fast year by year but I have honestly never seen the cards being reshuffled so many times in such a short timespan. It’s time to sink or swim, to freeze in front of a disruptive event or to react fast to reduce its long-term impacts. I prefer seeing it as a forced training of being flexible to unpredictable events, when you are not only required to plan in advance, but also to prepare a plan B or even a plan C.

When I think of myself as I was before taking the decision to start an MBA, I would never have seen things as I am doing now. What I am experiencing at MIP is something different from what I did previously during my studies, it might depend on my personal maturity, on my work experience, or on challenges I have already learnt to deal with. But that’s not all.

Try to imagine you’re in class following a lecture on something about which you know little, only the information you’ve read online or in some book or other, and the professor asks the students for some considerations about a certain business case. Actually, you have your personal view of the problem and want to contribute, so you raise your hand and explain your thoughts. The professor listens, nods and then lets other students start a discussion about it. You find that even if your idea is fine, it can be enhanced by your classmates’ expertise and therefore you improve alongside them, while analysing case after case.

It’s so astonishing to understand that as a silo you can only be good, while as part of a team, you can seek excellence. Studying several essential topics should be only one part of the improvement path, in the end it’s more important to surround ourselves with reliable and skilled people from whom we can learn, share knowledge and points of view. In some way, when you choose to start an MBA, you’re automatically designating the university to shape a well-mixed team of students to guarantee this.

The unexpected adversities and the fast-changing environment can be properly handled by being agile and flexible, but this is not sufficient. Teamwork should also be enhanced to its maximum, starting from the operatives right up to management level.

Finally, while writing this article, I have realized that I should not be looking for a new comfort zone  ̶ rather, what I actually need is to keep myself trained to be resilient enough to face unexpected situations with fast and solid resolutions. Surely the combination of work, university and a global pandemic can be the right gym.


About the author
Simone Moscato

Having graduated at Politecnico di Milano, Simone is now working as a civil engineer in an international EPC Company while attending the International MBA at MIP. An enthusiast for travelling and fighting sports, he’s always searching for new challenges. After years, he’s still struggling to learn how to play the guitar.



Innovation: the key pillar for future managers

A year has now passed since I introduced myself with my first article for the Polimi School of Management community. Back then, I had only high hopes for the path I was about to undertake. Today, as a result of the new knowledge and skills that I have acquired, I have many more convictions. One of the main focuses of MIP’s MBA Programs is innovation, which is covered in many courses, such as the last one I attended: Innovation Strategy, held by Dean Federico Frattini, Prof. Josip Kotlar and Prof. Reinhard Prügl.But first, what is innovation?

In the current economic and social context, innovation is one of the main development drivers and a determining factor for business success. It is talked about a lot, but all too often without its true meaning being known. My favorite definition of innovation is that of the Hungarian biochemist, Albert Szent-Györgyi:

“Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”

One of the most interesting aspects is that this “innovation awareness” no longer belongs only to large companies: in fact, we are witnessing a process of a progressive “democratization of innovation”, also driven by the most recent paradigms, such as Open Innovation, which are multiplying the opportunities to innovate, even in smaller companies. This is, above all, thanks to the lower cost of access to innovative solutions, ideas and skills, a privilege historically reserved for large multinationals.

This is the historic moment when every company should ask itself: “Am I doing things right?” And to achieve this awareness, one cannot only look inside, but also (and above all) to the continuously developing economic and social context that surrounds us.

As the famous inventor, Charles Franklin Kettering, once said: “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” And this is absolutely true! If the world around us changes, we, too, must change accordingly. And if we haven’t done it yet, we are probably already lagging behind.

Successfully innovating, however, is not always easy. There are some enabling factors that can help achieve the desired goal.

The first of these is having good vision, or the ability of the top management to steer their company effectively towards the chosen goal.

Another important key factor is the culture of failure. While it is essential to have clear methods to avoid the commitment of resources in favor of initiatives that will not be successful, it is equally essential to activate mechanisms for capturing knowledge and learning from cases of company failure.

Finally, the last fundamental factor is to have a well-defined strategy, focused on specific objectives. Frenzy and instinctive decisions can be very dangerous. For example, introducing a very powerful technology, but one which you do not know what to do with, or do not have the skills to manage, can have a negative impact on the performance of an organization.

In this regard, from what emerges from a recent study conducted by PwC, 54% of the managers interviewed argue that within innovative companies there is a struggle to bridge the gap between business strategy and innovation strategy. Both strategies must move in the same direction. Even better, they should be two sides of a single model geared towards achieving economic results over time. And this is even more achievable through the concept of Open Innovation, theorized by the US economist, Henry Chesbrough, in the essay “The era of open innovation”.    According to Chesbrough, “Companies can and must make use of external ideas, as well as internal ones, and access markets internally and externally if they want to progress in their technological skills”. Adopting an open approach, therefore, means innovating by leveraging one’s talents within the organization, but also involving various actors outside the company boundaries.

The result? A much more democratic and much more widespread access to new technologies.

Now, the last question which could come to your mind is: “Ok, in the MIP classes you talk a lot about innovation. Do you really put it into practice, though?”

The answer is yes, if you’re willing to. MIP offers you access to research articles, events and webinars about innovation. Most of all, however, it provides all the alumni with the chance to be supported in the creation and development of deep tech startups, providing services for acceleration, access to funding, mentorship, and advice, thanks to the strong connection to PoliHub, the Innovation Park & Startup Accelerator of the Politecnico di Milano. So what we learn is not just the concept of innovation, but how to make it real. And that’s important, because, quoting Goethe:

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”


About the author
Marco Di Salvio

Student of the International Part Time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano.
Industrial Engineer currently working @ Gucci as WW Supply & Demand Planner, based in Florence.
Tech passionate, Cinema-lover, Sports addicted.
Solving the world’s problems one spreadsheet at a time.