Giuseppe Soda, reappointed as Dean of SDA Bocconi, talks about upcoming challenges and opportunities

Giuseppe Soda, Dean SDA Bocconi School of Management


Milano, 28th October 2020

This year has been undoubtedly critical to everyone of us. But SDA Bocconi doesn’t give up its cultural and educational challenge, and revives it in the only possible way: looking at the future and imagining the leaders of tomorrow and the world they will have to face. Dean Giuseppe Sodarecently confirmed at the helm of the School by the Board of Directors of Bocconi Universitytalked to us about the School’s new projects and perspectives.


The world of business education appears to be increasingly crowded and mixed, doesn’t it?

On the supply side, the global environment for management education is extremely dynamic, competitive and experiencing both new players and a strong reaction of incumbents. The main activities and the traditional forms of delivering management education are being disrupted by technology and by the rise of new players outside the academic environment. Covid-19 has accelerated this process.


Of course, this evolution also depends on a new demand: what are the main drivers of this demand?

The needs of customers, students, executives and companies are changing. Technological transformations, new work paradigms, and global challenges (i.e. climate adaptation, diversity, energy and water scarcity, alleviation of global poverty, etc.) require new modes of thinking and massive efforts and investments to re-skill and up-skill people. These changes revolutionize the skills that people and organizations need in order to effectively navigate our highly uncertain times and face its challenges.


Great ideas for the future 


It hasn’t been long since managerial education was a one-shot move in your career, a significant investment, but limited in time. Today, in a world where every form of knowledge is evolving so rapidly, this model is stumbling…

Preparing for life in tomorrow’s world cannot be based on a once-and-for-all acquisition of knowledge and know-how. Learning is all about transformations, transformations in business, economy, society and technology. Great transformations raise questions about how ready people and organizations are to take advantage of opportunities or to face demands for different ways of working and behaving, and for new business and organizational models. Change and learning happen throughout our lives, work and careers. To cope with transformations, individuals and organizations seek new ideas and skills, experiment with new behaviors, and set challenging goals. This is what we call Lifelong Learning. Embracing LL impacts on our value chain which should move from a “single transaction” model (price vs program) to a customer-life-cycle model aimed at supporting and leading our customers’ continuous learning in a more proactive way.

In brief, the School is committed to equipping people and organization with the knowledge and networks to become more reactive and competitive in facing major social, industrial and technological transformations, more resilient to system shocks, more sustainable and inclusive.


How do you concretely put those models into practice? What is their impact on learning strategies and methods?

We are strengthening digital strategy as synergetic combination of different formats and teaching methodologies. The School will adopt three different models:

  1. Augmented Residential Model: Adopt digital technologies and capabilities to make the residential experience even better;
  2. Hybrid Model: Combination of face-to-face, real-time virtual, and asynchronous virtual components in each course;
  3. Full Online Model: Ecosystem (internal and external platforms) to offer low-cost high-quality programs fully delivered online.

Our fully digital offer will leverage a multi-platform strategy by partnering with the main global delivery platforms (GetSmarter, Emeritus, Coursera, etc.) but also by strengthening SDA Bocconi’s own platform (SDA Online)


Technology is at the heart of this teaching model. How is SDA Bocconi’s new Campus fostering this evolution?

Thanks to the new Campus the school is further investing to transform the experience of masters’ students and executives. Specifically, new projects and investments focus on experiential learning, group collaboration tools, gamification and business simulations, tech-enabled role-playing, technology-based learning environments and other innovative learning methodologies.


What are the essential approaches today for a successful school of management?

We absolutely need to be open to the world, and open to change. From the geographical point of view, in the first place: the school will continue to make every effort to further expand its global footprint, while remaining leader in the domestic market.

A second key pivot is sustainability, in its broader sense: we need to train managers who can generate durable value for their organizations and who are aware they can only do so by partnering, and not competing, with all the stakeholders and with their social and environmental contexts. Sustainability is no longer an option for the happy few, but a conscious and strategic choice for all.

Diversity and inclusion are another important direction we should follow. Our differences are a resource, not a limitation, we must leverage them, not suppress them. This implies critical and creative thinking, relational skills, adaptability, vision, which are the soft skills tomorrow’s leaders are going to need.


SDA Bocconi School of Management

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