The new Associate Dean of SDA Bocconi’s Masters Division used to discuss how to improve universities and management schools. Now he’s working on realizing his vision
Marco Tortoriello perfectly remembers the “philosophical discussions” he has been engaging in over the years with Giuseppe Soda on how to improve universities and management schools. And then one day Soda, freshly appointed Dean of SDA Bocconi School of Management, called him: “Do you want to keep on philosophizing or do you want to lend me a hand in this?”. It was an offer Tortoriello could not refuse. Now he is Associate Dean of SDA Bocconi’s Masters Division and shares with Soda the challenge to further consolidate the position of the school, which is 22nd in the world and 9th in Europe in the Financial Times rankings of the best Full-Time MBA programs.
Tortoriello has a long experience in two business schools that appear in that same ranking: HEC Paris and IESE Barcelona. “The Dean of IESE used to say that we must create a masterpiece every time we teach. This is an overly ambitious goal, but it gives you the idea of the positive tension that we must feel when we enter a classroom. We must provide educational experiences that change the participants’ way of looking at the world”.
One of the challenges that Tortoriello is facing is managing the division’s pretty wide educational offer. “Most of the European business schools have a Masters Division with one-third, if not one-fourth of our programs. We must turn the heterogeneity into an asset and a source of added value, overcoming the obstacles it presents”. How? Focusing on creating value for the participants and meeting or even anticipating the market’s learning needs.
In his research Tortoriello studies informal network relationships, knowledge transfer within organizations and their ability to generate innovation. “I have always been fascinated by the fact that there are two explanations for every phenomenon: the clear, plausible, direct and often wrong one and the less obvious and enlightening one. Very often, the real organization is hidden behind the organization chart”.
Organizations by James March and Herbert Simon, something of a Carnegie School classic, was an eye-opening reading for Tortoriello. After graduating at Bocconi, he received his MSc and PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where Simon (Nobel Prize in Economics in 1978) spent most of his professional life. Tortoriello’s research on organizational topics had a beneficial effect on teaching. “The only way to create value is by sharing the results of academic research, so that they can help managers to meet the challenges of the future”.