From Class to Business

Take Off: Redefining Fashion Distribution through a New Management Team

In the bustling world of business, stories often unfold in unconventional ways, and Alona Andruk’s journey from a professional athlete to the CEO and founder of Take Off is no exception.  

Alona Andruk’s introduction to SDA Bocconi’s Executive MBA program was marked by her distinct profile as a professional cyclist for the Ukrainian national team and as an Olympian. Her athletic qualities – such as determination, passion, and hard work – seamlessly aligned with the executive profiles cultivated in the EMBA program. Alona, already with a budding business idea, joined the Executive MBA program to enhance her managerial skills. This also allowed her to tap into the extensive network offered by the EMBA classes at SDA Bocconi School of Management. 


Take Off, Alona’s brainchild, is a trading company specializing in redistributing unsold fashion inventory through online and offline channels in emerging markets. “When I started my EMBA at SDA Bocconi,” Alona recounts, “I already had a business model and a business idea. I founded this company to help mitigate the environmental impact of the fashion industry by redistributing unsold items and contributing to the development of emerging countries. The company was doing well, but I needed a structure, and that is exactly what my Master gave me.” Alona, having started the company before her Executive MBA, saw the program as an opportunity to structure her business. The transformation was profound, with Take Off’s turnover catapulting from 18 million to almost 40 million euros, a remarkable achievement she attributes in part to the boost from her Master’s program. 


The impact of SDA Bocconi extended beyond the classroom. After her EMBA degree, Alona welcomed two Executive MBA Alumni, Christian Pistamiglio and Marco Pelli, into key roles at Take Off. Alona’s dream team not only believed in her vision but also contributed to the company’s success. Together, they formed a new management team, illustrating the power of collaboration fostered by SDA Bocconi’s network. 


Marco Pelli, Chief Information Technology Officer at the company, emphasizes the future plans of Take Off, aiming to transform it into a data-driven company, employing new technologies, and incorporating artificial intelligence. “Our final goal is to try to drive the IT department to be more and more a strategic component of the company and not just a support,” he says. The SDA Bocconi Executive MBA program filled knowledge gaps and provided a valuable professional community, according to Marco. 


Christian Pistamiglio, Chief Operating Officer at Take Off, underlines the company’s competitive advantage – market knowledge, an extended network, and a deep understanding of products. As the company moves from a growth phase to maturity, the focus is on building a leadership and middle management team, consolidating processes, and fostering a culture of accountability and open communication. Regarding his experience at SDA Bocconi, he recounts: “The Master has given us the opportunity to meet several other professionals with whom we share not only methodology, but also values. We regularly look for entrepreneurship, critical thinking, responsibility and people-centeredness.” 


In the dynamic fashion industry, Maksym Andrushchenko, Head of Sales Department at Take Off, acknowledges the impact of a Master in changing the mindset of an executive profile. “We work with more than 300 brands, and it is necessary to regularly monitor the brand’s position and awareness of each of them. So our portfolio is changing on a regular basis because it should be relevant and attractive to the market.” Attending a Master’s program facilitates a fresh perspective, offering new solutions and ideas, crucial in navigating challenges, especially post-COVID.  


The story of Take Off is not just about business growth; it’s a narrative of transformation, resilience, and collaboration. Three Executive MBA graduates, now a united management team, stand ready to overcome challenges and embrace the future of Take Off – a future shaped and empowered by the transformative power of education and collaboration. 


Take Off: Redefining Fashion Distribution through a New Management Team