From SDA Bocconi’s MBA to Amazon: a successful “pathway”


From studying aeronautical engineering to managing 650 people in the global e-commerce leader company, through working in the oil industry and as a managing consultant – a unique professional path, stemming from a qualifying educational choice. It is Michele Nava, MBA 40 (MBA 2015)’s story, SDA Bocconi’s alumnus, now a manager in the Pathways program that Amazon devotes to its fast-growing managers. A career where being trained at SDA Bocconi played a “revealing” role, as he calls it.

What is your role at Amazon and what is your professional background?
I am currently working as Operations Manager for the outbound department in MXP5, the Piacenza-based Fulfillment Center. I am happy to have been assigned here as per Pathways program standards, but my journey has been quite unique.
I studied aeronautical engineering at Politecnico di Milano, in Italy, and before graduation I started my professional career in the oil and gas industry – from the sky to the deep sea – as a project engineer. During the six years I spent in the business, I was involved in several international projects with important oil companies, mainly focused on project engineering and project management.
After six years, I decided to seek out new challenges, and to radically change the type of businesses I worked within, I decided to pursue an MBA at SDA Bocconi. During the course, I took part in an exchange program and spent the last semester at Wharton School. It was during this period that I was lucky enough to meet Amazon’s Pathways program.

What is the Amazon Pathways program and what makes it unique?
The Pathways program is a well-structured program that will guide you towards being the future leaders of the company. Starting as Area Managers, Pathways managers are expected to grow fast. Managing and leading a team of 50+ people is part of the role from day one: in my case, I was assigned a team of 78 people less than two weeks after I joined and in under six months I found myself managing an entire shift of about 650 people!

Did you learn about the Pathways program during your MBA at SDA Bocconi? Why did you decide to join the program?
I learned about the Pathways program while I was looking for a summer internship at SDA Bocconi. However, at the time I was still fascinated by the world of consulting, and therefore I decided to focus on that, completing my internship in a consulting firm. It turned out to be a good decision as I found out that consulting was not my path.
It was during my academic exchange at Wharton that I realized the Pathways program was the way to go for me. I was impressed with the Amazon opportunities available all around Europe as I want to continue giving my career an international imprint.

What does a typical day for a Pathways manager look like?
The answer is very simple: there is just no typical day for a Pathways manager! However, I would say the most important aspect of the daily work is managing people and leading the team. For me, in particular, it is leading by example and working closely with the other managers. Another important part of my daily work is process improvements. Starting from the big picture, from the financial goals agreed at the European level, Operations Managers have to make sure projects and improvements are in place to reach the goals.

How do the skills and knowledge acquired during your MBA at SDA Bocconi support you as a Pathways manager?
My MBA journey has been fundamental to successfully starting the Pathways program. Even more than the analytical skills, strategic thinking and business awareness, which are the basics, there are some skills and knowledge that only an MBA can provide.
The most important skill, by far, is time management! We all know that MBA courses are fast-paced; you feel like you’re living on a rollercoaster for one year. Well, that’s nothing compared to the Pathways program. Prioritizing and managing your time is paramount.
During my MBA I also had the chance to appreciate the importance of diversity, of interacting with people from all over the world, with great stories and experiences. This experience helped me greatly when I found myself in the position of bonding with teams of 100+ people and connecting with all the associates.

SDA Bocconi School of Management
(extracted from an Amazon interview)

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