The power of diversity: the MBA & multinational networking

“Networking is not just about connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas and people with opportunities.” (Michele Jennae)

When I enrolled for an MBA at MIP, I already knew that this kind of experience would be much more than classes, exams and company visits. One of the main achievements of an MBA is the network you can create during this period.

I get it, often networking isn’t at the top of everyone’s to-do list. It can be time-consuming, awkward on occasion, and, depending on your personality, incredibly draining.

It can appear that hard skills and knowledge are far more important than having a few words with colleagues or joining events. But that’s quite wrong. Sometimes you learn more by taking a coffee or sharing a slice of pizza with a person with a different background, than actually studying a book on finance accounting (which is still a super-important subject. Nothing against it, I swear!)

And that’s what’s happening during my first months of the MBA; I’m getting to know many interesting people, with different stories, backgrounds, ambitions and nationalities.

Yes, nationalities. I decided to join the International Part-Time MBA in order to benefit from an international environment.

Sundar Pichai, former CEO of Google, once said:

A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”

And I totally agree with this sentence. A multicultural environment (and networking in general) can bring many benefits:

1.     Strengthen business connections:

Networking is about sharing, not only taking. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationships. By doing this, you sow the seeds for reciprocal assistance when you need help to achieve your own goals.

Tell me, would you rather help: A) a colleague with whom you have shared a drink, or B), a colleague who don’t even say “hi” when you run into him? The logical answer would be A (otherwise maybe you should be reading articles on how to deal with problems in socialising?)

2.     Get fresh ideas:

Your network can be an excellent source of new ideas to help you in your role (both present and future). And what about a multicultural network? It can be an even better source of inspiration. Different cultures have different ways of approaching problems. Everyone is looking at situations through a different lens, a unique perspective. This can lead to a wide range of ideas that would benefit any team.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. At least, not at the beginning. During my first group assignment on the Erasmus programme, I was in a group with a Chinese, a Japanese, a German and an American (it sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it actually happened). It was a real mess… One person focused more on the content, someone else more on the form, others on the speech, etc. But mixing up all these different approaches brought us to a final result which was much better than the one we had in mind at the beginning.

3.        Develop long-lasting personal relationships:

Last but not least! The point of networking is not only to develop professional relationships, but also (and above all) to create strong and long-lasting friendships. I’ve always thought that the more you grow up, the more you’re able to find people you share your vision of life with. Your MBA networking contacts will usually be like-minded people with similar goals to your own, so it’s not unlikely that they’ll become great friends of yours.

These are only a few of the benefits you can get from an international environment. But they should be enough to push you try out an experience like an International MBA. You’ll need to discover all the other benefits for yourselves! ?

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.



Multicultural Spirit

According to a study from the HBR (Harvard Business Review), living abroad is one of the most impactful choices on a student’s career development, enhancing creativity, reducing multicultural and intergroup bias, and promoting success in their future search for a job. When I chose to enrol at MIP to study for an MBA, the promise of being in an international class of students was indeed my highest motivator. In the past six months, I have learned a great deal from my classmates. That’s why I want to leave the floor to them to talk about the multicultural spirit we have created together.

Ganapati, or GG, as we all call him, is a Financial Analyst from Pune, in India. GG, the choice of leaving your family must have been exciting but also challenging. Why did you choose Italy, and Milan specifically, for your MBA?

It’s true, moving to Milan for the MBA was a really exciting decision but also complex in terms of convincing my family, because of the financial commitment and, of course, also emotionally, since my wife is doing her master’s in India and we have a 2½-year-old baby to take care of.
I had previously been in Milan for a business trip and I fell in love with its architecture. I chose this city both for its strategic location and for the opportunities I wish to find here, with it being the fashion and financial capital of Italy. I had planned to live an international experience for a long time and an MBA in particular would be an upgrade to get ready for more challenging roles in my professional life. 

There are students like Lili, a Project manager from China, who had business and personal trips to Italy before the start of the program. Lili, during this year you have shared a lot about your country and culture. Tell us about the Chinese new year party we had!

The Chinese New Year party was amazing! Not only because of the traditional Chinese food we made from scratch and the things we did, but because we were all together for such a traditional and important event in my culture. The greatest and most meaningful thing for me, being away from home during that time, was to share it with people coming from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, and still wanting to celebrate together. I strongly believe that the multicultural environment we have built will have a big impact in shaping our future as people and professionals.

And talking about parties, Alejandro, a financial and operations strategist from Colombia has fully embraced the multicultural spirit of our Master, from the Milanese aperitivo to playing calcetto. Ale, how has this experience changed your life and what are the takeaways for you?

It has been key for me to understand that not everybody has the same energy and willingness to do some things. I’ve learned to be more respectful about people’s decisions and to be an active listener with regard to their needs. I have an easygoing and chilled personality, but not everyone feels comfortable in all environments, also because of the dimensions that model their culture. In order to interact with others it is important to understand that the other person also needs to be comfortable. This has been the basis for building more solid relationships and a healthy environment in particular when we were working in teams for some courses. It will be my takeaway whatever project I work on in the future. 

In my class there are also Italian students, like Federico, a lawyer who is passionate about social and economic issues. As an Italian candidate, how was it to dive deep into a multicultural experience for you and what made this journey special?

Being immersed in a multicultural environment was, for me ̶ and I can say for all the Italian students   ̶ a journey to explore the different cultural roots of every colleague. Sitting side by side with people coming from the other side of the world, it enabled me every day to gain a different perspective on the way we look at the world of business, on society and on approaches and attitudes to situations arising in our daily lives. Having the opportunity to wear glasses other than mine to observe our complex world was the true richness of this adventure! We are all children of the same tree: traditions and diversity are the essence of our journey together and allow us to discover humanity in its manifold nuances.


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