Danielle Beraldo, Canadian / Italian

President Women in Business Club FTMBA 2012

My name is Danielle Beraldo and I am a student in this year’s MBA program.  
I grew up in Canada but my parents are both from Italy, so moving to Italy had always been a dream of mine. 
Deciding to do the MBA was a very big decision for me after having worked full time for more than four years in the pharmaceutical/healthcare sector in Canada.  In my career to date, I was exposed to many incredible opportunities and had a broad range of international experience, however it became clear to me after working for several years that, especially as a young professional woman, an MBA would provide me with an extra competitive edge and expand my options for the future tremendously.
I researched many different business schools both in North America and Europe prior to choosing Bocconi, yet upon learning about the one year international MBA program, I was certain that it was a perfect fit for me. Being an Italian Canadian, my heritage has always been something that I am proud of, and this clearly influenced my decision to apply, as I realized there was nowhere I would rather live and study for the next year of my life than Italy.  Of course Bocconi’s growing international recognition as a top ranked school also factored into my decision, as well as the opportunity Bocconi provided to complete the program in only one year, which is not the norm in terms of MBA programs. Also, the possibility of networking in Europe and being exposed to internship opportunities with world-renowned companies while gaining international experience is something that I knew would immensely increase my future employability. 
The other aspect of the MBA at Bocconi that strongly appealed to me was the amount of ethnic and cultural diversity present within the program.  It is a fundamental benefit for anyone studying in an international setting to be exposed to such a variety of colleagues from around the world, and this is something I can truly say is extraordinary here at Bocconi.  Our current class is made up of 104 individuals representing over 30 different nationalities; which offers students a truly unique and diverse MBA experience. Also, the students come from a variety of mixed backgrounds in terms of previous academic and professional experience, which makes for very interesting interactions and a broad base of knowledge within the classroom setting. 
By being part of the MBA program over the past few months, I have met some amazing friends from all over the world with extremely varied backgrounds, and I can say in all honesty that it is truly wonderful to interact with such a variety of people on a daily basis. I believe that the diversity and level of acceptance within our program is truly unique.  As Professor Castellucci explained in his presentation, the importance of broadening your social and professional network is something extremely beneficial when pursuing any kind of business opportunity. Bocconi truly promotes this within its programs, not only by exposing students to such diversity within the classroom setting, but also through their strong connections with the Alumni Association, the extracurricular activities, and the strong connections the University has with many highly influential companies and recruiting networks.   
At the beginning of the MBA, I decided it was important for me to become involved in the Women in Business club since as a female student in a program that is still heavily dominated by men (not only at Bocconi, but in business schools all over the world), I believe in the importance and value of having a support system in place for young professional women. The WIB club initiatives do not focus on issues of gender inequality specifically, but more on the notion of sharing ideas, experiences and triumphs of successful women in the business world with young women looking to advance their careers. The club mission is to provide inspiration and support for women in business while building a network for knowledge and experience sharing. It is about making connections, learning from the experiences of others, and inspiring and motivating young women in today’s highly competitive, global business world.
The Bocconi WIB club is planning to host our first Women in Business conference this coming October, and we are hopeful that it will be a tradition that is continued by future MBA classes. 
I strongly believe that an MBA will improve a woman’s career prospects in the same way it does for all students; it opens doors and presents you with opportunities for advancement in ways that would otherwise likely not be an option. I believe having a network of support is important during the MBA, as it can be quite an overwhelming and stressful experience.  I think that women in particular often relate best to other female role models, which is another reason the club was so important to me.  It has opened doors to a network of female alumni, faculty, and other professional women whom I would have never otherwise met.   
I have also been fortunate to discover the Women in Business Cohort, which is made up of a group of clubs from top business schools all over Europe such as Insead, HEC, ESADE, IESE and London Business School. Bocconi has joined the cohort this year and we are hoping to be involved in events with other members of the cohort in the coming months.
Also, there has been a tremendous amount of support from the Administration and staff at SDA Bocconi, and there are many women faculty members or others in leadership roles, whom I have found extremely helpful and supportive of this cause.  There is a real community feel here at Bocconi.  
My personal experience in the MBA so far has been one of the greatest of my life.  Apart from all the incredible people I have met and friends I have made, I have had the opportunity to partake in some amazing international events while networking with other business schools and alumni. 
The annual Sailing regatta that took place last September and is hosted annually by Bocconi in Santa Margherita and Portofino, was a truly amazing experience and a real school tradition.  It is something I know I will never forget, along with the MBA Ski cup held in Bormio in January, and the MBA Olympics hosted by IESE in Barcelona, which our class will be participating in this coming April.
Another aspect of the MBA experience I will always remember is the way the previous year’s class made me feel immediately welcomed and accepted into their network of friends and colleagues. From the moment I arrived in Milan, I received invitations to join them for aperitivos and other school organized events around the city.  They were eager to make members of my class feel comfortable and to answer any questions we had.  
There is a real sense of community here at SDA Bocconi, and I hope to carry on this tradition and do the same for next year’s MBA’s; which hopefully may include some of you here today.