The 41st edition of the SDA Bocconi Full-Time MBA started on 28th September with the Opening Week, an intensive one-week bootcamp during which Director Stefano Gatti welcomed 98 students from 35 countries and shared with them the essence of the forthcoming year.
Afer a busy and exciting week, full of opportunities, meetings and off-campus visits, students will discover every day the reasons behind a successful investment, their MBA: a year that is lived intensely, one of those experiences that “leaves a mark” in the professional and personal life of those who take part. Strong commitment, sound theoretical and practical preparation, strengthening leadership skills, field experience, profound and precious relationships. All elements that, in the end, become new career opportunities.
We asked Stefano Gatti, Director of the Full-Time MBA and SDA Professor of Banking and Insurance, to tell us what this winning “mark” really consists of and what are the elements that set SDA Bocconi’s MBA apart from other educational offers.
The Full-Time MBA at SDA Bocconi has consolidated its prestige and its international appeal year after year, a fact proven by the most important rankings, as well as by a classroom where already over 75 % of the students are not Italian. Which specific elements from the program – teaching, organization, network – are to thank for this?
It is a well-chosen conjunction of elements. On one hand, there is certainly the academic aspect of the program, and by “academic” I mean not only the high quality of teaching, but also the research that goes along with it, with internationally renowned results. On the other hand, we must consider that SDA Bocconi belongs to an ever-wider professional community: The Bocconi Alumni Association gathers managers and professionals from around the world and this is a growing appeal. A third element is the program’s format: it is a “compact” MBA that lasts only 12 months, compared to, for example, American or Anglo-Saxon MBAs that last longer. This is an advantage for our participants because it generates a much more advantageous cost/benefit ratio to those who take a leave of absence from work for just a year.
How much of an influence does location have over the success of the MBA at SDA Bocconi, set in Italy, and in particular in Milan, its financial capital and a very international city?
It is very influential. Italy is unique in its culture and life style, and this element is very attractive to international candidates. And Milan, being among other things very cosmopolitan, offers unique hospitality and opportunities, not just from a cultural point of view. It is an “multi-faceted” city, which allows you to broaden your horizons, and offers continuous stimuli to “lateral thinking”, a characteristic that is also essential in the training of an MBA.
The effectiveness of an MBA is given by its ability to evolve following the needs of the market and of the business community. Are there any significant changes underway in the Full-Time MBA at SDA Bocconi?
Yes, the program is constantly evolving because the market asks for it. One of the elements that will catch on more and more over the next few years is the ability of an MBA to provide experience to its participants. It gives not only a robust body of knowledge – which of course is already present in the program – but the ability to put into practice what has been learned. First of all, this requires some changes in the structure of the program to redistribute the workload over the months more rationally. Secondly, we will have a progressive but radical innovation of the teaching methods which will introduce, even more so than it already does, experiential activities during the training activities.
Speaking of experiential activities, can you tell us more about the specific tools you have thought of?
There are several and I will mention a few just as examples. A distinguishing characteristic of the MBA at SDA Bocconi – only in part comparable to the offers at other business schools – is its Concentrations, a series of elective courses that begin in September after the summer internship period, and allow our students to be “hands on,” in a very concrete and highly experiential way, in four subject areas: finance, innovation, marketing, and entrepreneurship. The approach is customizable based on the needs and preferences of the students themselves. Another element is the specific track in Luxury Business Management, which has become a “tradition” in our MBA: a direct experience in one of the sectors where the Made in Italy expresses its highest potential. Then we have the Leadership Series, meetings distributed throughout the core curriculum where CEOs, general directors and other top managers come to the classroom to talk to the students about their leadership experience within the company. Last but not least, a reinterpretation of the method – currently in its design stage – where lecturing will be complemented more by direct participation of the students and sharing of experiences via public speaking, role playing, and so on.
To wrap things up, a question from a wider perspective: what is the current market of the Full-Time MBA and what does it mean to invest in the MBA at SDA Bocconi today, especially in terms of return on investment?
I would like to answer that with a question commonly asked by recruiters, especially over the past few years in this economic crisis: why, given similar qualifications, is it more convenient to take on a candidate from a Full-Time MBA instead of a Master of Science or another specialized pre-experience program? The (already tested) answer is this: the Full-Time MBA trains the person and gives them a structured skill and – I would like to repeat – a greater capacity for lateral thinking. This translates to a greater aptitude for problem solving, complex management and teamwork. This is a competitive advantage that has a significant effect on career and salary progression, as the data confirms. Thus, a significant investment in terms of time and cost for the MBA – even though our compact formula makes it more affordable – reveals an ROI that is truly advantageous. In other words, a year that is fully worth it from all points of view.
SDA Bocconi School of Management