New direction for DBA pursues sense of continuity


Giada Di Stefano, newly appointed Director of the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), explains how the program is an intersection between academic excellence and business practice and offers some valuable advice to those who are considering pursuing this path.

The DBA program at SDA Bocconi offers a course for senior executives that unites business experience with research and a scientific approach. By systematically exploring different areas of Business Administration, the program aims to build leaders who base their business strategies on strong foundations of theory and methodology. The program, meant for professionals with at least 15 years of experience, has a flexible and modular format that allows for a greater educational impact while being sustainable for the busy schedules of participants. A personal advisor that is assigned to them for the entirety of the program and the combination of virtual and in-person modules make it even more flexible.


Here’s what the new DBA Director and Associate Professor di Strategy, Giada Di Stefano, had to say about the program’s present and future.



Can you please tell us about the professional journey that led you to become DBA Director at SDA Bocconi?

My journey began nearby at Bocconi University. After completing my studies, I entered the corporate world, working in marketing for L'Oréal. However, the desire to pursue an academic career never ceased to entice me. Driven by that passion, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. After completing the Ph.D., I started my academic career, first as Assistant Professor and later as Associate Professor at HEC Paris for seven years. In 2019, I had the opportunity to return to Italy, as Associate Professor at Bocconi, and when the opportunity came up to direct the DBA program, I embraced it with great enthusiasm.


This program is the ideal convergence between the world of business and the world of research and scientific thinking. For someone like me who has always had a strong inclination for applied research that is closely connected to the corporate fabric, there could not have been a more suitable situation.



Do you plan to introduce any new features with the new edition?

I am taking over the leadership of a program that is already generating great satisfaction in the classroom. The program is strong and thriving, also thanks to the leadership of its previous directors, Professor Marco Tortoriello, who was the first Director, and Professor Fabrizio Castellucci, who has been its outstanding Director for the past six years. Therefore, I do not believe the program needs to be revolutionized but rather find continuity with its success and excellent results.


However, our new idea is to enrich the experience by creating a DBA community that brings together former participants and new recruits, supporting them in their career path for much longer than the 3 years of the program. Now that we are in our eighth edition, we have an ideal number of participants to realize this vision.


What sparked the idea of developing a DBA community?

The inspiration comes from the distinctive characteristics of those who choose our program: professionals at an advanced stage of their careers who decide to carve out space for themselves to stop and think about something on a more abstract level, trying to generalize what they have learned, or to learn something new, and they do so essentially by sacrificing their free time (DBA is not full-time; those who attend do so while continuing to work and almost always in roles with a high level of responsibility and commitment). Their decision to invest time and resources in training and research is emblematic of a dedication that deserves to be valued. At SDA Bocconi, we believe that fostering the sharing of these experiences, through a community one can feel part of, is an additional benefit we can offer.


Do you have any suggestions to share with those who are considering pursuing a DBA?

My primary advice is to carefully select the institution where they intend to pursue their DBA. At SDA Bocconi, a source of satisfaction for those in the program was finding a faculty of the highest caliber who devote a great deal of time to supporting them in developing their individual projects. Having access to a distinctly "research-active" faculty also fosters that winning combination of practice and research I mentioned at the beginning.


I would also like to emphasize the importance of having a clear and defined idea of the research topic before starting a DBA. Understanding the specific field or phenomenon you wish to explore is crucial, not only for those who participate but also for us, so that we can better match students with advisors, ensuring a well-guided and personalized course of study.


SDA Bocconi School of Management

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