SDA Bocconi Custom Programs succeed in the face of emergency

Executive Custom Programs


Custom education is flexible, adaptive and context-related by nature. These traits have enabled it to be sustainable and effective even during the Covid-19 emergency. Concerns about a machine downtime, or having to put everything off awaiting for better times, didn’t last long. After an initial shock, a new way of thinking and designing has been shaped, together with companies, around three key dimensions: delivery modes, contents and the alliance between the School and participants in its programs, says Marialuisa Ortini, Head of Business Development, SDA Bocconi School of Management. Shifting on-campus activities onto online platforms allowed programs to be resumed quickly. In an incredibly short time, 45% of initiatives that had been designed as face to face had been converted to online.


But the whole thing was not just a simple click. Going virtual means redesigning on-campus courses, revisiting timing, schedule and rhythm. And prioritizing, whenever possible, a specific teaching approach, i.e. synchronous sessions. These have confirmed a proven winner by fostering participation, and interaction between teachers and learners. It has also managed to reach out to traditional “opposers” who favored face-to-face over distance learning. This experience has taught us a lot about the future: going back to campus, we are not going to overlook the benefits of a good balance between the different components of quality teaching.


The global emergency could not possibly not affect contents. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown period have massively impacted initiatives, disrupting paradigms about emergency decision-making, distance leadership, interpreting scenarios to come and building the future, boosting digital stance – only to mention a few.


Last but not least, the alliance between teachers and participants has become stronger. While we were putting up with forced social distancing, distance learning enabled people to meet and interact in a protected environment. «We feel we are privileged» has been the most frequently heard comment by participants in online educational initiatives. Not only as to their learning experience, but also because their companies have not given up human capital development in these hard times.


Deeply tested by the emergency, custom education has developed an even greater awareness of its own value and sustainability, based on exceptional adaptability and, once again, on the exchange between the School and companies at an international level. In their respective roles, they both have been able to face an unprecedented, unimaginable scenario in a resilient, fully aware and resolute manner. This in itself is a new, important skill.


SDA Bocconi School of Management

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