Interview with Raffaella Cagliano, newly appointed Academic Director of the School of Management
Your recent appointment as Academic Director of the School of Management took place at the same time as the election of the new Rector of the Politecnico di Milano, prof. Donatella Sciuto. This is the beginning of a new phase for the University as a whole, which has to face various new challenges. Starting from your program, what is your vision and what are the School’s priorities for the next few years?
Taking on the role of Academic Director is a great honor and responsibility. Our School, together with the whole Politecnico di Milano and the University system, is facing relevant challenges that ask for a clear vision and considerable accountability.
Thanks to the constant improvement of the positioning of Politecnico di Milano in the international rankings, and the excellent results obtained by the School of Management in the last six years, many opportunities have opened up and need to be concretely exploited.
This is also a flourishing time for Italian Universities, thanks to the financing received for research projects and positions within the PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) scheme, which outlines the goals, reforms and investments that Italy intends to pursue through NextGenerationEU funds to mitigate the COVID-19 socio-economic impact.
However, for their potential to be fully exploited these opportunities must be managed conscientiously. The new resources and collaborations resulting from this fast growth must be consolidated into a new solid base for further developments, while also keeping in mind that the pressing societal challenges and the recent developments in the geo-political scene are asking universities for a decisive contribution, that is, to provide answers and at the same time to also develop a culture of peace and sustainable development.
In this scenario, the School of Management’s main priority is to strengthen the excellence achieved, with the aim of becoming an international leader in responsible research and education, and of allowing our people, and especially the young professors, to thrive and develop their best capacities, for them to contribute to a general positive impact on society as well as to the success of our School.
To this respect, in recent years, the school has worked a lot to create awareness of the impacts generated by scientific research and to promote sustainability. How does it deal now with the complexities of the current socio-economic and environmental challenges that you have mentioned?
Sustainability and social impact continue to be central to the strategy of our School. We are aware of the challenges the business and economic system and the society as well are facing and, together with the whole Politecnico, we want to develop and disseminate the knowledge that is needed to transition to a greener and more just world, while producing and spreading wellbeing. We see our role as particularly important in contributing to the common good through a critical understanding of both the opportunities and the challenges offered by technology.
We pursue this mission by creating and sharing knowledge through high-quality education, the quest for scientific excellence and active community engagement.
The Department of Management, Economics and industrial Engineering, which is part of the School, has just been appointed as a “department of excellence” for the five-year period 2023-2027 by the Italian Ministry of University and Research, which will fund the HumanTech (Humans and Technology) project. The issue of man at the center of technological development has been one of the main areas of focus for the School (we talked about this in issue #6). Can you briefly tell us what the objectives of the project are?
The HumanTech project is a great opportunity for the School to foster collaboration between the different research groups and knowledge centers inside and outside the Department towards a common research objective. They will jointly develop relevant insights and knowledge about novel ways to approach and implement digital technology innovation with the aim of balancing two goals: improving the wellbeing of individuals and the whole society while also being economically sustainable.
In our view, there is a pressing need to evolve the current technological development model from maximizing economic results towards a more “human” form, that is, a model that in addition to the financial and economic implications also takes into account human, social and environmental ones from the very beginning.
Thanks to the financing obtained, the School will develop top-notch labs supporting behavioral and cognitive ergonomics research in virtual and immersive environments, which will ground the leadership of our School in the field.
We are setting challenging performance targets in terms of outcome, reach and impact of our research results in the next five years. If we will be able to fulfil this promise, these results will further consolidate the excellence and international positioning of our School among the top European schools of management within technical universities. You will read more details on the project in the editorial piece by Federico Caniato.
If you had to briefly give 3 keywords for the future of the School in the short term, what would they be?
Nurturing – We wish to nurture our Faculty by creating an inspiring and stimulating environment for developing excellent and impactful research and innovative teaching.
Responsible – Our responsibility stands in pursuing research and teaching oriented to have a positive impact on companies and the local community. By developing and disseminating knowledge on the role of technology and innovation, we contribute to a better and more just society.
International – We aim at attracting talents worldwide and becoming a center of excellence renowned for the quality and standing or our research and teaching activities.