THE FULL-TIME MBA CLASS GROUPS WENT TO THE FCA TEST TRACK IN BALOCCO FOR A SPECIAL LESSON: IN THE CLASSROOM WITH EMEA COO ALFREDO ALTAVILLA AND ON THE TRACK WITH TEST DRIVERS
There are many ways to examine business cases: it can be done in class, maybe with a guest speaker from the company, or it can happen at the company itself, with the chance to meet the EMEA Chief Operating Officer face to face to discuss many aspects of the business. This is what happened with the two SDA Bocconi Full-Time MBA class groups. They were invited to the Balocco test track (near Vercelli) by FCA to discuss the company’s strategies and organizational model with Alfredo Altavilla, the group’s EMEA COO. His talk was included as part of a class in Ferdinando Pennarola’s MBA course, Organization Design in the Information Age.
This is a different way of teaching, halfway between a traditional lecture and a company visit: “Being able to work on the FCA case at the company itself and having the opportunity to talk with people who were involved in the entire process through the definitive merger into FCA, was a very useful experience,” explains Professor Pennarola. “The best way to appreciate the full complexity of an operation of that kind is to go to the place where it happened.”
It was also an opportunity to better understand the brand’s EMEA strategies straight from Altavilla, “who was very open and frank with us,” says Peter White, a British student in the MBA. “Listening to his speech in his own habitat and talking with his working group made the experience very well-rounded.” Fabio Ansaloni, another student in the program, agrees. “It was a unique way to have a class. The added value is that it didn’t have the dynamics of a classroom, but it also didn’t have the dynamic of a company visit.”
At the end of the day, after putting away their books and strapping on a helmet, the MBAs were able to try out a few of the group’s cars on the track and off-road. “The track was fun, but for us guests it’s just a recreational place. For automobile producers, it’s the place where the vehicles are tested for thousands of kilometers before being placed on the market. Teaching on the track allows students to appreciate this aspect as well,” says Pennarola.