The art of giving becomes the beauty of receiving: An interview with Evangelos Touras

Evangelos Touras, Chief Marketing Officer of Illy, discusses the innovative outcomes of Illy's partnership with the Executive Master in Luxury Management (EMiLUX) program.



Evangelos Touras, Chief Marketing Officer of Illy, recently shared his insights on the company's participation in the Executive Master in Luxury Management (EMiLUX) program of SDA Bocconi. Known for its excellence in the coffee industry, Illy partners with EMiLUX in the Design Thinking Project, centered around the delicate relationship between creativity and management.


When asked about the motivation behind participating in programs like the EMiLUX Design Thinking Project, Evangelos highlighted Illy's foundational pillars of economic, social, and environmental sustainability, explaining how initiatives like these align with their core values and emphasizing that “Giving back to the community is integral to Illy's DNA.”


"We have several programs and partnerships with foundations and organizations, ranging from health to education. The opportunity with SDA Bocconi offered immense value," said Evangelos, adding "Bocconi is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, making it a perfect match for us." Illy sees these engagements as opportunities to inspire, educate, and attract potential talent while reinforcing their commitment to social responsibility.


Evangelos initially perceived the participation as an opportunity to give back, but he soon realized it was equally about receiving. "The creativity and fresh perspectives of EMiLUX students have been invaluable," he noted. Indeed, the innovative ideas of the students often surprise and inspire the team at Illy, providing original insights into consumer trends, new ways of thinking, and creative solutions that even experienced professionals might overlook.


Evangelos Touras shared specific examples of how the collaboration with EMiLUX students has benefited Illy. One notable instance was when students presented pioneering uses of artificial intelligence, which inspired Illy to adopt similar technologies in their operations. "These presentations pushed us to leverage AI in ways we hadn't considered before," he said. Another example was the concept of pop-up stores and their fresh take on engaging consumers suggested by the students, which prompted Illy to prioritize this initiative.


Candid feedback from students also led to tangible improvements across various aspects of Illy's operations, from brand experience to social media presence.


Clearly, collaborations like these are of immense value. "This project is one of our highest priorities, engaging our top managers across the company. We give the students challenging, real-life cases to work on. The same brief that we give to the best agencies or consulting firms in the world goes to the EMiLUX program. The results never let us down." Evangelos encouraged other companies to consider similar partnerships, highlighting the mutual benefits. "If any business person has any doubts about investing time in such collaborations, I'd say it's more than worth the investment. The insights and inspiration we receive are nearly always greater than what we give."


Illy's collaboration with the SDA Bocconi EMiLUX program exemplifies the mutual benefits of industry-academia partnerships. As Touras eloquently put it, "The art of giving becomes the beauty of receiving." This synergy not only fosters innovation and creativity but also strengthens the community, proving that true collaboration can lead to remarkable outcomes.


The  Executive Master in Luxury Management (EMiLUX) program, with its diverse cultural perspectives and exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences, offers a unique opportunity for professionals to unlock new doors, reach new goals and advance their careers in the luxury business without leaving their jobs. An intense post-experience modular program, that offers ECTS/ CFU credits and is taught over 15 months in Paris, Milano, Dubai, Los Angeles & Silicon Valley, Lausanne, Rome and London. 

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