Invest in yourself: develop your soft skills

The longer the time I spend with my Part-Time MBA fellows, the more surprised I am by the mutual enrichment we get from our different working backgrounds and personal lives: we get involved as a whole person, and this goes beyond our differences.

The benefits for students on an MBA program, along with the hard skills developed during the courses, include the opportunity to work in a team and cooperate proactively to achieve the common goal of finding an effective and original solution to challenging assignments. This is anything but easy: emphasising our creativity, we produce a bucketload of different ideas and everyone tries to persuade the others to follow his or her line. In the end, a fine emotional intelligence is key to understanding when it’s time to find a shared thought, agree upon an idea and lead the road towards the target.

In a few words, enrolling in an MBA program offers a great arena for training soft skills.

In general, soft skills indicate all the transversal competences that are not directly connected to a specific task; they mainly refer to the relationships with other people involved in the organization and the personal attitude to dealing with a task.
Hard skills, on the other hand, concern the ability to do a specific task, require specialized knowledge and technical abilities: they’re easily measurable and they are usually very specific to a role in an organization.

Time and effort dedicated to the development of soft skills is thus an investment for the future development of each person’s career; as the need for specific skills can pass by with the development of new technologies, the attitude to rapidly approaching new, upcoming technologies and coping with disrupting changes will remain.
And these two competencies, learning agility and adaptability, are indeed soft skills.

In the complex labour market in the era of disruptive change, while hard skills must be continuously improved as the necessary enablers to access the game and hold one’s position, soft skills give the opportunity to move wisely and nurture a positive environment that is the key to achieving both one’s personal goals and those of the team.

Moreover, in a time of fast transformations that lead to the development of cross-industry teams and abilities, soft skills represent a business card that is valuable in multiple different environments.
In a multi-disciplinary team the ability to communicate effectively, listen carefully and delegate are key elements for success. And guess what? These are soft skills.

In our path as MIP students, we are offered boot camps, seminars and courses to improve our soft skills: the leadership class at EADA was a great opportunity to reflect on personal attitudes and the different ways to be a leader, shaping our way with the four pillars of authentic leadership.
Seminars offer us the opportunity to dig into ourselves and develop self-awareness, maturing a consciousness of our strengths and dealing with our weaknesses: we don’t get to choose our warts, but we must be able to transform them into opportunities for growth.

As Part-Time students, moreover, we have the chance to put into place the soft skills training both at work and with our MBA colleagues, in very different contexts with bosses, subordinates and peers.

But the downside is that we have pressure coming from both sides and we have to struggle with tight time schedules to balance work and study. Guess what? Again, soft skills are required here.

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.

The elective courses make the MBA path unique, tailored to your own goals and expectations

In addition to traditional lessons, the International Part-time MBA program as defined by MIP and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management includes in-company classes, elective courses and the opportunity to attend some courses abroad, thanks to the International Exchange Program.

When I decided to enroll in this MBA, I was working in a big multinational company. I thought that this MBA could help me to develop my soft skills such as team building and managerial leadership, teaching me to be responsible not only for myself, but also for my whole team and, at the same time, to acquire new knowledge and boost my career. So I never had any doubt that the elective courses I would choose would be “Soft Skills” and “Global Management Bootcamp”.
Elective courses are open to students from the International Full-time, Part-time and FLEX MBA courses, and also to Exchange students from partner schools.

I followed the Soft Skills course during the first academic year. In this class we analyzed the personal skills required to succeed and developed a personal plan for reaching our professional goals, guided by professor Filippo Passerini, former CEO of Procter and Gamble, and professor Emre Soyer, behavioral scientist in the Business Faculty at Istanbul’s Ozyegin University.
Both are professionals with great experience and personalities who have achieved ambitious goals and prominent positions in their careers. Their lessons focused on topics such as emotional intelligence, effective communication, problem solving, people and change management.

During the second year I followed the Global Management bootcamp, focused on the business skills relevant for pursuing managerial careers in an international context. This year the course was conditioned by the fact that a few days before the bootcamp week, the Italian health institutions decided to close all schools and universities as a precaution amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
MIP decided to respond to this emergency situation by using the experience, gained over the past years, in providing teaching digitally. Only three days later, the Global Management course professors were ready to provide all the scheduled lessons online.
The course ended with a group presentation about the assessment of a country’s risks and opportunities for international business. On this particular occasion, the “working in virtual teams” course that I followed at the beginning of the first academic year was certainly useful and once again demonstrated the avant-garde level of the master’s program.

During this period not only lessons and teaching activities were carried out as planned but MIP also organized specific lectures, such as those on the prospects for the Italian economy or the Career Workshops in light of the current coronavirus evolution.
There is no doubt that MIP has been able to respond to this emergency situation in the best way, also being an example to other schools and institutions. However, I am very happy to have had the opportunity to personally and actively follow the Soft Skills elective course held by two professors with great charisma such as Passerini and Soyer. Not all sensations and emotions can be transmitted in the same way through digital tools, although highly innovative, and that is why typically courses on this topic are usually provided on campus by the school.

About the author
Andrea De Donatis

I am Andrea De Donatis, a student of the international part-time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. I Graduated in energy engineering and I am currently working in technical sales for a leading multinational electronics company based in Milan.
I am very passionate about technology, IT and digital marketing. I strongly believe that disruptive innovation is vital to create new value.


Leading the new generation workforce


The essential digital skills for the leaders of tomorrow

To be a successful leader you need to have the right mix of soft skills and technical knowledge.

Soft skills, also known as “interpersonal skills“, relate to the way we interact with other people and include reliability, effective communication, problem-solving, people management, change management and more…

Alongside these very important skills, there are hard skills, the job-specific knowledge and technical abilities which are constantly shifting and evolving over time in the dynamic working environment in which we work today.

To manage resources and interact with different teams, you need important leadership skills but also specific digital hard skills that an International Part-time MBA at the MIP School of Business aims to develop in its traditional courses, elective boot camps and company visits.


  • Data science skills and the ability to make data-driven decisions: a leader must know how to read and manage data, generate reports and forecasts, identify sales opportunities and estimate profitability since organizations collect and analyze large amounts of data to make objective decisions and transform their processes. In the Data Analysis course, for example, I learned how to apply statistics to business from collecting the relevant data to writing technical reports useful for strategic decision-making.


  • Programming and software development: basic programming, web and app development knowledge are required to work with both internal resources and outsourcing agencies. Programming is also important for knowing how to identify opportunities, define specific project objectives and requirements, estimate the times, costs and resources necessary for implementation and guide technicians in development. In this case, the boot camp dedicated to Biomarketing used real cases to show how to use digital technology to analyze the market and to improve our understanding of the customer. Moreover, the company visit to Accenture highlighted how the company supports other businesses in the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and in the development of software used for data collection and analysis with the aim of improving sales strategies, customer management and process transformation.


  • Network and information security, cybersecurity and privacy knowledge: the advent of the GDPR in Europe during May 2018 put data security and privacy at the top of the agenda for many project teams. Also, consumers are now more conscious of the risk of sharing their personal information online and they expect to have their data protected. As project leaders, we will need to be able to set guidelines for project delivery that include data security approaches, work with the IT and legal teams and ensure that the required standards for security and privacy are met.


  • Social media selling and digital marketing: today, buyers won’t engage with a seller without visiting their company website first. Social selling uses social media to find, connect and develop meaningful relationships with potential customers. Product managers must master digital marketing skills to create digital content and promote products and services. The company visit to Moleskine, in this case, was very impressive. The company is completely digitized in its processes, marketing and customer relations while selling some of the most traditional products on the market: diaries and notebooks.


In the next few years, when we will be in team leader positions, we will be working with a new generation of workers who have grown up in a fully digitalized world. We should use our digital skills to coordinate them, understand their needs, support them with the tools they require, set goals and evaluate their work.

On the other hand, since technology allows new generations to be confused in values ​​and ethics, and to be lazy in habits and have little emotional intelligence, we should teach them the timeless virtues like commitment, responsibility, and the valuable soft skills that they may not understand, like emotional intelligence.

We will learn from them how to take advantage of new technologies and we will use our digital and soft skills to leverage their abilities and create the best working conditions to maximize their performance.

That is the critical role we will play.


About the author
Andrea De Donatis

I am Andrea De Donatis, a student of the international part-time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. I Graduated in energy engineering and I am currently working in technical sales for a leading multinational electronics company based in Milan.
I am very passionate about technology, IT and digital marketing. I strongly believe that disruptive innovation is vital to create new value.



The leader put to the test with soft skills

In the life of a company, a merger represents one of the most delicate phases. It’s the moment in which two entities with different cultures, histories and leadership styles join forces. It’s a process that must be carefully planned and managed, with the aim of creating a new, shared corporate culture. Only in this way can an integration be truly considered successful. Sergio Gonella, Culture and People Development & Recruiting Director at Wind Tre, a company created at the end of 2016 from the biggest European merger in Telecommunications to date, that between Wind Telecommunication and H3G, followed this process first-hand and talked about it with the students of the Executive MBA programme of Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management as part of the series “A point of view on Leadership”: «We worked two years to best carry out this merger and, from the very beginning, it was clear that the biggest challenges we would face wouldn’t only be at a technological or business level. It was fundamental to concentrate on people. So we decided to involve them, through a wide range of initiatives in which soft skills played a preponderant role».

The three pillars of leadership

These initiatives included «listening activities like engagement surveys, involvement activities through communities, initiatives dedicated to welfare, to development, to learning and to performance management». A strategy that immediately earned Wind Tre the Top Employer certification and that took inspiration from a new leadership model, also in this case defined by the people chosen to lead the new company. «Thanks to interviews and focus groups that involved managers», explains Gonella, «we identified the three pillars that make up the leadership model of Wind Tre: self, people and business».
As far as the context regarding self, «the leader must demonstrate qualities of stability, entrepreneurship and exemplarity». Internal characteristics which, however, must then be translated to the outside, that is brought to the team. «Our leaders must motivate their employees and give them confidence, allow them to express themselves freely and in a constructive manner and stimulate the growth of a network of relations both within and outside the company», continues Gonella. All elements where the mastery of soft skills is central.
The constructive approach of leadership also reflects on the business: «On this front, our priorities are value creation, a strong customer orientation and an aptitude for exploration and continuous innovation».

Observe, learn, innovate

The centrality attributed to soft skills is consistent with transformations underway globally, which will profoundly change the hierarchy of required job skills. Gonella himself explains this, citing the Future of Jobs Report prepared by the World Economic Forum in 2018: «If we compare the most requested skills in 2018 with those that will be most needed in 2022, we can see not only the latter ones will be all soft skills, but that the ability to learn, creativity, and originality will take on a preponderant role». This is because we forecast that in 2022 the pace of innovation and changes in scenarios will be even more rapid than they are now. «The ability to learn, but also that of knowing how to learn, putting into practice set strategies, will become even more important than omnipresent problem-solving. The leader of the future must be able to analyse critical issues while also thinking of innovative solutions. And, to do so, he will need to draw on all his learning skills», concludes Gonella.

What makes us different? The importance of working on our Soft Skills

Around a couple of years ago, on several occasions, I found myself having to justify to friends, family and co-workers the reasons that were leading me to soon start my International Part-Time MBA at MIP. I believe this is something MBA students often face prior to, during and after completing their course. Why are you spending this amount of time, effort and money on an MBA program?

To be honest, at that time the answer was quite simple ̶ I wanted to increase my knowledge and complement my curriculum. As an engineer who had been working in the same industry since the beginning of my career, I felt that I could benefit from gaining certain competencies in fields such as finance, marketing and business law. What I would find out during my MBA journey was that those reasons, even if important, were not the main value that I would acquire during my time at MIP. In this set of articles, I will reveal the way that I would answer that question today, “Which are the greatest tools with which the International Part-Time MBA at MIP provided me for my personal and professional life?”

Learning theory is important, but most likely it will not make you any different from your peers. With this statement, I do not intend to underrate the importance of the main theoretical courses, but in today’s highly competitive ecosystem of work, it has become more important than ever to explore those skills that will take you to a level above pure theoretical knowledge.

Let’s start from the beginning! Since most of the students work full time, the journey of the International Part-Time MBA is a tricky path on which the amount of time that one can dedicate to a certain task varies over the course of the two years that the program lasts. So in a certain way, it is “easy” to fall into an automaton mode. As unpopular as it might sound, it is a defence mechanism to continue with work and lessons in parallel during certain periods of the program. This is unless you cross paths with Prof. Passerini.

It took me one minute to understand that the course that I would receive over the following two days would be everything except orthodox. I was arriving directly from a business trip to China, so I must admit that I had not reviewed Prof. Passerini’s profile in detail prior to the “Soft Skills” course. During the first break, most of the class members were on their computers reviewing his outstanding curriculum, which will tell you the impact that he had on the audience.

Prof. Passerini is, in my personal view, all that you could wish an MBA professor to be; first, he has an extensive and successful career record, holding several executive roles in firms such as P&G, including CIO and President of the company’s Global Business Services division. Second and even more important, is his great sense of communication and the care he takes over the different topics which are handled during his course. No questions are avoided, deviations are taken as opportunities to explore new learning scenarios and make an audience eager to go further down the learning path.

When an executive with his record explains to you concepts such as Leadership, Contextual Intelligence, Listening and Communication Skills, you know that this is not contained in any book. All this knowledge comes from a lifetime of experience and the willingness to share it and communicate it with others. Coming back to my initial statement, theory can be learned but the skills that you can acquire on a course like this will be what will make you different.

In a personal dimension, Prof. Passerini has coached me for several public speeches that I have faced over recent months. He provided me with feedback in great detail that positively impacted my performance, which, knowing his position, makes me feel extremely lucky and grateful. These are tools that I will need to exercise and which will help me differentiate myself from others. Without my MBA at MIP, this would not have been possible.

The MBA program includes a deep learning phase but I am convinced that it is the experiences such as the one provided by Prof. Passerini, which are those that will impact your professional and personal future in the greatest way.

Following this path of reasoning, my next article will be focused on how the MIP Silicon Valley Experience provided me with a set of insights that will be extremely helpful in my professional future. This is another topic that you will not learn in any book! Hope you enjoy it!


About the author
Pedro López Estepa

I am Pedro López Estepa, an International Part-Time MBA student at MIP Politecnico di Milano. I received a Master in Telecommunication Engineering from Granada University in 2010, spending the last year, including the Master Thesis, at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.

My career has been focused on high-tech corporations, initially as part of their R&D departments and during the last few years, the focus has been on developing long-term strategic partnerships in different sectors, including IoT, Automotive, Robotics and Medical.

Being part of u-blox strategy team allows me to working with international cross-functional teams inside and outside the organization, key partners, investors and at the same time that contributing to worldwide projects as business opportunities arise.



Develop your soft skills to capitalise on your hard skills

MIP offers the possibility of choosing from among several elective courses and exchange paths.
During my International MBA course, I had the opportunity to follow not only a series of indispensable modules which furthered my quantifiable knowledge but also to explore the means of developing my interpersonal, or soft skills, which are fundamental in today’s business world.

What impressed me the most was the lesson learned from Prof. Passerini.
Filippo Passerini is known for creating new, progressive business models and driving innovation. He currently serves as global operating executive, consultant, and educator – with affiliations at The Carlyle Group, McKinsey, Columbia University and the University of Alabama, and is a personal advisor to a number of global companies.

His lecture was mainly focused on the importance of soft skills, like contextual and emotional intelligence, developing core strengths and active listening.
This part of the Master was crucial since in the latest business environment soft skills are becoming more and more required. Soft skills training, such as communication and problem solving, boosts productivity and retention. As companies increasingly need to become more dynamic, interconnected and flexible, soft skills are key and also executives now consider these skills important for fostering employee retention, improving leadership, building a meaningful culture and the drive to succeed.

In a sense, customers are also demanding soft skills. The modern market offers consumers an unlimited number of choices through technology. For these consumers, convenience is easy to come by, so customer service is often what influences the choice. The ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with customers is, therefore, a vital factor in an organisation’s success.

Problem-solving, controlling emotions, being goal oriented, time and stress management are among the most important skills, which are also extremely useful in the internal business environment. Managers should be able to listen to employees, have good speaking skills, and be able to think creatively in order to drive their team. A lean and agile approach to change is also key, considering the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the business scenarios in which we are living and operating.

Finally, we should figure out what we are good at and develop it even further in order to build our core skills and a personal brand. Hard skills are, of course, the bedrock to any successful career but understanding and developing our soft skills is what differentiates us from others, improves us and thus, our working environment.

All careers require at least some soft skills to make hard skills even more valuable.

That’s what MIP enables us to learn, through its challenging courses and activities, its international network and its top representatives willing to teach, such as Prof. Passerini.
That’s the MIP Experience!

Never blow out the flame


About the author
Salvatore Interdonato

Salvatore is one of the students of the 2017 edition of International Part-Time MBA. Answering to the question “what’s your purpose in this world?” he will answer “I’m here to solve problems with more efficiency and productivity.
Problem-solving gives me energy and satisfaction as well as the proof that we can always face new challenges within our companies offering new valuable solutions”.