New ‘Chess & Corporate Strategy’ programme launched by MIP Politecnico di Milano

Due to the incredible success of the Netflix series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, the game of chess has surged in popularity again recently, and MIP Politecnico di Milano is a business school that is joining this phenomenon by creating a brand newChess & Corporate Strategy’ programme.

Recognizing the true value of strategy involved in the game of chess, this programme that is aimed at business professionals and managers who want to improve their skills in strategic thinking and decision-making.

The aim of the course is to develop problem solving skills, especially in times of extreme uncertainty and disruption, through the parallelism with the tactical game of chess.

The game of chess is considered to be a prime paradigm of strategic thinking, where a player must make in-depth analyses of multiple scenarios, plans, and possible moves, as well as manage the psychological aspects of the opponent” says Luca Desiata, Director of the course.

The course will integrate content from various fields such as game theory, the comparison between artificial intelligence and human strategic thinking, and the foundations of leadership – all themes that intersect both with the game of chess and with business strategies.

Starting in June 2021, the course will be taught entirely online and in English, and will ultimately improve negotiation skills, as well as giving participants a better understanding of the founding traits of leadership all based on chess champions’ experiences.

This innovative course further highlights MIP Politecnico di Milano’s commitment to providing advanced educational offerings for those who want to adapt and progress in an ever-changing business environment.

Leadership and purpose: the human aspect returns to the centre of business

From awareness to sustainability. Why is it so important that managers leading companies put the human element at the centre? Arrigo Berni and Josip Kotlar explain, presenting the Executive Programme in Leading with Purpose

Facing the challenges of the present supported by a conscious intention, a reason that pushes us to pursue an objective. In a word, purpose. It’s the test that awaits the leaders of today and tomorrow, called on to deal with increasingly interconnected scenarios and challenges and with consumers who evaluate brands based on their contribution to society: «In the last decades, material living conditions have improved enormously at the global level. And human nature is such that from the satisfaction of a class of needs, in this case material ones, new ones are born, in this case immaterial, of meaning», explains Arrigo Berni, founding partner of The Mind at Work Italy and Adjunct Professor at MIP. But not only. The progressive worsening of environmental conditions imposes a rethinking of the reasons at the basis of economic activities: «Defining the purpose of an activity is essential to bringing the human aspect to the centre of business in a coherent fashion», explains Josip Kotlar, director of the Executive Programme in Leading with Purpose offered by MIP Politecnico di Milano with the collaboration of The Mind at Work. «Until now we have seen a sort of division between economic and corporate social responsibility activities. Our intention is to use purpose to promote a more integrated vision of these two aspects which are not separate but must go together to be sustainable».

Awareness, the key for complexity

A sea change, that requires enlightened leaders: «Intentional leadership», explains Berni, «is characterized by great self-awareness and by the ability to give a meaning to reality, rather than reacting to it. In addition to this, a purpose-driven leader has the ability to develop collaborative relationships with others and to correctly interpret the situation in which they operate».

An approach that can be read as an evolution of the methods by which people have always tried to come up with effective strategies.  As Kotlar explains, «it’s important that decisions are guided by what we can define as “conscientiousness”. Today, however, the traditional tools with which decisions are made are commodities available to every company. They no longer represent a competitive advantage. New approaches are needed that lead to conscientious decisions. Purpose is important because it provides a new set of tools with which to manage complexity, without restricting oneself to a technical, and therefore limited, vision of the world».

Sustainable change involves purpose

The advantages of leadership inspired by purpose are due above all to abandoning a vision superficially focused on “what” and “how”. «An approach », stresses Berni, «that sacrifices awareness of the intentions underlying a decision and that leads to results that not only are not very sustainable over time, but also fall short of their potential, because it doesn’t’ transmit energy to the entire organization». If you let yourself be guided by purpose, instead, «results are based on structural changes and therefore are sustainable over time, because they are children of a systemic vision of the company. Results are also better, because they are the fruit of more energy, both at an individual and collective level».

A course to develop your strengths

Motivated by the desire to encourage positive change in the world, MIP Politecnico di Milano decided to launch the Executive Programme in Leading with Purpose: «It is based on the innovative digital learning model FLEX», explains Kotlar. «It combines impact learning with maximum flexibility. The programme is composed of eight thematic modules, each consisting of a combination of brief clips, a live question-and-answer session and four interactive lessons. It concludes with project work that allows participants to put themselves to the test with real projects; it also offers a coaching session that supports participants in working on themselves, to discover and develop their inner strengths, to improve the ability to innovate, develop entrepreneurship and other characteristics of leadership. It’s a programme that allows for broad flexibility in one’s personal path».

Between soft skills, personalization, and empowerment: management according to MIP

Today’s manager must deal with new challenges and opportunities, like that presented by digital. And if hard skills are essential, soft skills make the difference. Simone Franzò, director of the Executive Master in Management, explains


A deep knowledge of the principles of management and a good balance between soft and hard skills. These are the foundations on which a manager must build their success. Simone Franzò, director of the ’Executive Master in Management (EMIM) at MIP Politecnico di Milano, explains. «It seems obvious, but too often managerial figures have serious gaps in training. Today more than ever, instead, it is fundamental to be able to count on solid skills. Also because digital is changing the boundaries of this profession».


Facing challenges, seizing opportunities

The increasingly pervasive diffusion of digital technologies is playing an important role: «On one hand we have challenges, on the other opportunities», explains Franzò. «Think about the spread of smart working. It certainly poses a challenge from the point of view of team management. But there’s also the other side of the coin: «New technologies enable new opportunities; they can improve  productivity and the effectiveness of the work performed. However, they are not the panacea for all ills: they must be properly managed. Only in this way can they become a “virtuous tool” to the benefit of the company». The challenge is also cultural: «A change of mindset is necessary. Just as physical presence in the workplace cannot be considered an essential value, in the same way the adoption of digital requires training that involves both managers and human resources. Let us take an example: the issue of data management and knowledge. You can’t digitize without knowing how to manage the flow related to knowledge management». But technologies in fact, are not everything. Indeed, they are not anything, without skills. «Today more than ever», continues Franzò, «it’s clear that there’s a need to combine hard skills, that is more notional skills, that you learn through classic educational programmes, with soft skills: for example, the management of leadership, of the team, public speaking. These are the skills that increasingly become a source of success and a competitive advantage for some managers compared to others».


A master’s degree for those who want to strengthen their skills

The Executive Master in Management offers training in line with these principles. «It’s a master’s in general management and is directed at those who typically have a consolidated work experience and feel the need to update and reinforce their skills in key areas of managerial knowledge», says Franzò. «The programme structure is divided in four macro-blocks. The first set of courses is based on management fundamentals, within which the student can choose between six or eight courses. The second block is made up of elective courses: we offer over one hundred courses, and among these the students choose between six and eight. The third block is the executive programme: a programme of eight pre-established modules that address a macro-theme from several complementary points of view (digital transformation, project management, energy management etcetera). Lastly, project work, which has the objective of applying the notions learned up until then on a real managerial problem».


From networking to soft skills and career empowerment

The master’s degree, which can be pursued online following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, is therefore characterized by a high level of content personalization. «This is its strength. Not only because every student can choose which areas to study in depth, but also because this will allow everyone to meet a large number of different colleagues from one course to another, all who share the same educational and training needs. Approximately, networking could reach over one hundred people, all linked by common interests». Particular emphasis is also given to soft skills, as well as to empowerment: «In addition to the courses more focused on soft skills, we have planned a series of career development support initiatives for our students. For example, our students will have the opportunity to meet with managers and head hunters, who will illustrate the most attractive skills on the market», concludes Franzò.





Regaining spirituality (to become a more aware and efficient manager)

Going beyond soft skills. The executive programme in spirituality and management aims to guide students to acquire a deeper level of understanding of humankind and to give life to a virtuous contamination with topics that are more closely tied to business. «We are targeting those who want to know themselves better in order to take a leap forward», explains Professor Luciano Traquandi


The importance of soft skills in education, training and work is now accepted by everyone. However, there’s a deeper level to explore, seemingly antithetical to concepts like business, productivity and technology, but fundamental to finding a deep balance: spirituality. «We live in a period in which the excess of technology, with its defined paths, can lead to an entropic state, and thus of decline. The spirit, instead, is deeply human and, by nature, anti-entropic. And that’s exactly what we need», explains Professor Luciano Traquandi, who oversees the executive programme in spirituality and management (SPEM) for MIP Politecnico di Milano.


The balance between humans and technology

But what does spirituality mean exactly? And why did MIP decide to devote an entire course to this topic? «We decided to use this term because it was the one that most of all indicated something inmeasurable and intangible, something that escapes any kind of measurement. To understand its nature better, think about the term “culture”», explains Traquandi. «You can’t “weigh” culture. But different cultures lead to different outcomes. With the SPEM programme we want to go beyond this, and address issues that are often elusive».

This course required a lengthy preparation: «We’ve been working on it for about ten years. But it comes at the ideal moment, in an historic period in which we are deeply shaken by something that is apparently insignificant and intangible», explains Traquandi, referring to the coronavirus. But this need for spirituality is also tied to the enormous technological acceleration seen in recent years: «The futurologist John Naisbitt stated that high tech needs to strike a balance with high touch: that is a human touch that balances out technology. But let’s not make the mistake of putting these two areas in contrast: technique benefits from spirituality, and spirituality is helped by technique; think, for example, of those Buddhist monks who are also theoretical physicists», says Traquandi.


It’s not quantified: it’s perceived

The goals of the SPEM programme are tied precisely to this: providing keys to understanding the dimension of the spirit, with the aim for a virtuous contamination with the world of production. And spirituality has repercussions on numerous fields: change management, economics, law, decision making, even artificial intelligence. «The category of the spirit is pervasive», explains Traquandi. «But take note: it’s not possible to measure it. In the face of it, we must give in. We can feel it and perceive it but not control it. And although this course is strictly secular, it’s worth recalling cases of companies which, following problematic acquisitions, accepted to undergo theological analyses that then allowed them to overcome critical issues identified. And it’s normal that this is the case: we all live this profound dimension. Maybe it’s not easy to confess it to ourselves, but we live it».


A study path that aims for understanding

The SPEM course addresses all these themes: «It is directed towards courageous and sensitive people, with great skills», explains Traquandi. «People who feel the need to take a leap forward, both for work and for themselves. Precisely becase self-knowledge is a fundamental element of this course. The approach is complex. Each module will be dedicated to a theme.

And seeing that, as we were saying earlier, the spirit is pervasive, we will have speakers from a wide variety of fields: doctors, theologians, members of the military, entrepreneurs, experts from the world of research and the economy. We’ll offer students a variety of stimuli, necessary to arrive at a full understanding. There aren’t and can’t be unified theories and results. Every participant’s experience will be a personal one that will draw from their own reservoir of spirituality. For this reason, participation will be fundamental: discussions within the group will be decisive for the success of this experience», concludes Traquandi.

«Data science and business analytics: today companies can’t do without them»

Professor Carlo Vercellis, director of the executive programme in data science and business analytics, tells about the latest trends in the market of big data and makes an appeal: «External consultants are no longer enough. Organizations now need to integrate these positions internally»


Growth which for the last five years has been constantly in double digits, around 20%, investments that in Italy reached the value of 1.7 billion euros. The market of analytics, in other words the analysis of data, has come to a turning point. «But now it’s time to grow», says Professor Carlo Vercellis, professor of machine learning at Politecnico di Milano, director of its executive programme in data science and business analytics and scientific head of the Big Data & Business Analytics Observatory. «Large companies have gained familiarity with these tools, although up to now they have mainly relied on external consultants. It’s time to incorporate these figures within companies, even in SMEs. There are many challenges to be faced, just as many professional figures required and therefore job opportunities for those who want to work in this field».


Organization, management, process automation: the latest trends

There are two particular trends identified by Vercellis. «The first challenges are of an organizational and managerial nature, and involve the governance of the supply chain of data driven projects, that is those based on data: moving from experiments, which have become increasingly numerous and complex, to the pilot project, and then to the start of production and to deployment. The second challenge concerns business processes, that must be changed in a data driven perspective. We’re thinking about process automation, that is an automation of processes that substitute human activities with little value added through algorithms that allow software and robots to carry out a series of repetitive tasks. This allows to free up resources, human and material».


Lots of data, lots of algorithms: the need for functional awareness

However, data alone is not enough. You need to know how to question, read and interpret it, and for this there’s a need for specific skills: «We are submerged with data. The two main sources are social activities, that provide unstructured data, which cannot be reduced to tables of numbers; and the Internet of Things, or that network of objects, household appliances included, with smart features, which collect large amounts of more structured data», explains Vercellis. «To read them you need to know which analytical tools to use: we’re talking about algorithms, obviously, which while sharing basic settings are not all the same. According to the task to be carried out, one can be more suitable than another. For this reason, there’s the need for a professional with “functional awareness: experts capable of using data and business analytics tools, without having to be technicians. These are the professional roles that companies are starting to look for today, because little by little they are realizing that external consultants are not enough».


The job opportunities in the world of analytics

The professional profiles that fit this requirement are varied. «They go from business users, able to understand the logic and limits of these tools, to the translator, a bridge figure who knows the language of data science and business, and is able to facilitate communication between these two worlds. Professional roles today are increasingly technical: the data scientist, data engineer, business analytics data scientist solution architect».


The executive programme in data science and business analytics of MIP Politecnico di Milano aims to train professionals in the different areas needed: «It’s a course that begins in October, requires a commitment of two days a month and touches on all the issues tied to this subject», explains Vercellis. «It involves hands-on sessions and final project work in which students must apply notions learned to a problem, proposed by themselves or professors of the MIP faculty. The course is for individuals, who perhaps are looking to reskill, but I expect that above all it will be companies that take advantage of this opportunity: a great opportunity to train an internal resource able to manage the company’s needs, a task that an external consultant would never be able to carry out».

«MIP’s HR vision is modern and contemporary»

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

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

Learning based on discussion

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

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

Between change and diversity

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

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