MBA, One High Intensity Year

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THE 2017 EDITION OF THE MBA REUNION ORGANIZED BY BOCCONI ALUMNI COMMUNITY AND SDA BOCCONI WILL BE HELD ON 5 AND 6 MAY, BRINGING TOGETHER 32 CLASS GROUPS THIS YEAR. THREE MBA GRADUATES RECALL THEIR EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM.

Intensive study, relationships that last a lifetime, that rapport that only occurs with constant debate, mediated through challenging activities like group projects. The MBA experience is more than the sum of its parts, as can be seen from the stories of those who lived through it.
 
It is often compared to the experience at military schools, when the draft was still enforced: “I did both, an MBA and military school, and there really is a resemblance,” says Luca Sorteni, MBA 21 (1996), one of the founders of the very first association for MBA alumni, before the creation of the Bocconi Alumni Community . “You spend a lot of time together and you have to collaborate to reach a common objective. There can be tension during times of stress, but friendships are solidified.” There is a difference, however, and it’s an important one: “In the MBA, it’s essential to study everyone’s peculiar traits, because it’s important to combine each person’s skills.” Sorteni recalls a personal example: since he came to SDA Bocconi relatively late, “at age 33, with a few years’ professional experience and two children,” he had to work with classmates who were often younger. And with this kind of debate, “you can learn another very important lesson: the humility of reevaluating your age and professional experience.” Because, in group projects for instance, anyone, even the young and less expert, “could propose something interesting to add to the work.”

After all, the challenging part of those months in the classroom is debate in a very international environment (especially in the English class groups, where often nine out of ten students are not Italian). “There was a South American lawyer, a British civil servant, a Japanese finance professional. In the same class, there could be participants from 50 different countries and with very different professional backgrounds. However, there was no common thread, which is usually found in multinationals, of a shared company culture,” says Fabio De Silvestri, MBA 27 (2002). The challenge therefore becomes finding common ground when deadlines approach “but this is one of those opportunities for personal growth during this experience.” Another is the outlook that completing an MBA provides: “You need to remember that it’s a program that is not created to provide hard skills in each sector, not least because it would be practically impossible. It gives you basic knowledge in a number of fields, providing a wide-ranging horizontal viewpoint that often completely changes the way you approach your work later on,” continues De Silvestri. “I remember, for example, that I took very interesting modules aimed at focusing on and teaching different corporate conduct in similar situations.”

Intensity, debate, vision. And relationships. “The first thing that comes to mind when I think back on those days,” remembers Andrea Delogu, MBA 30 (2005), “are the relationships. It was a very difficult year, because of the pressure, but I would do it over again in a heartbeat. And I would recommend it to anyone who wants to do something more in life. Or to anyone who want to understand what not to do: because it’s a year during which you learn to focus. In the end, however, besides the studying, what you’re left with are your personal relationships. And the awareness that you’ve had a special year.” Any advice for someone thinking about doing an MBA? Delogu is quick to answer: “If you’re already thinking about doing it, then you should do it.”

Feelings, memories and stories of a special experience that will live on this 5 and 6 May, when the 2017 edition of the Bocconi Alumni Community and SDA Bocconi MBA Reunion will be held. This year, 32 class groups will participate, including Luca, Fabio and Andrea’s, with a full program of continuous learning and networking. Plenary sessions will include speeches by Frances Ouseley, Director of EasyJet Italia, and Sara Ferrero, CEO of Valextra and Partner at Neo Investment Partner LLP.

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