SDA Bocconi believes in women

SDA Bocconi recognizes that in today’s world women need to occupy a more prominent role in business and have greater access to leadership roles. As a strong believer in gender equality and the importance of women’s contribution to the business world, SDA Bocconi is committed to promoting the professional development of women.

Currently women represent around 20-35% of the student population in the School’s MBA programs, however SDA Bocconi is committed to increasing this percentage.

The School believes that a healthy gender balance is important not only because it helps to improve diversity in the class but also because it makes the learning experience more stimulating and enriching for everyone. As a result, SDA Bocconi is actively engaged in a number of activities that aim to attract more women to its MBA programs, monitor the presence of women in the industry and promote their professional development.

In particular, SDA Bocconi offers a number of scholarships for women for the Full-Time MBA as well as for all Executive MBA programs, aiming at supporting talented women applying to these high-profile programs.



"Deciding to do the MBA was a very big decision for me after having worked full time for more than 4 years in the pharmaceutical/healthcare sector in Canada. In my career to date, I was exposed to many incredible opportunities and had a broad range of international experience, however it became clear to me after working for several years that, especially as a young professional woman, an MBA would provide me with an extra competitive edge and expand my options for the future tremendously."

Danielle Beraldo | MBA 2012, President Women in Business Club

"The WIB Conference has been a great opportunity to learn directly from the experience of successful women and to improve my trusted network, realizing that often we all share the same challenges."

Sarah Beddini, Italian | President Ethica Club MBA 2013 | Marketing Manager Digital Music, Amazon, Italy


And the room is crowded with both male and female students, happy to see this! Women in business @sdabocconi
Women in Business conference @sdabocconi @ChiaraBisconti sharing her tips for a happier life
Women in business conference @sdabocconi @MoniRegazzi speaking about her startup @Homepalit

In order to monitor and support a growing female presence at the highest levels of business, SDA Bocconi has set up a “Diversity Management LAB, a major diversity management research center in Italy. Working in partnership with companies where diversity management is actively promoted, this unit aims to encourage debate and comparison through benchmarking, guidelines, and the creation of networking opportunities between companies that are involved in diversity management.


"It was with great pleasure that I moderated this year's edition of the Women in Business Conference. Being able to meet and listen to such esteemed women in their respective fields provided me with invaluable insight on how to pursue personal and career goals. I was especially impressed with the drive and tenacity of these female leaders, which made their achievements possible. Overall, the conference was a remarkable success with over 100 attendees, many of whom commented about the impact and inspiration the speakers provided."

Patricia Faraci, American-Italian | Vice President Ethica Club MBA 2014 | Banker, JP Morgan Chase Bank, USA

ME-TOTEM project

MEntoring as a TOol Towards EMpowerment - A project co-financed by the European Commission DG Justice

For six months 12 female MBAs will receive advice from top European female managers on how to make their way professionally and assure themselves equal opportunities in the world of work. All thanks to the participation of SDA Bocconi in the Mentoring as a Tool Towards Empowerment Project (ME-TOTEM), part of the strategy of the European Commission to promote gender equality. The project was developed by and is spearheaded by the Professional Women’s Association Milan (PWA Milan) within the Advisory Board of the Diversity Managment Lab. The main objectives of the two-year ME-TOTEM project are to create a direct relationship between qualified women and board members through mentoring and sponsorship, mobilize board members and top executives around the need to support women’s career paths and make junior professional women (MBAs) aware of the importance of career planning and of finding a mentor and sponsor.


Many PWA members are SDA Bocconi Alumnae, who started to take an interest in female presence in high-level jobs through the School’s MBA Ethica club. This club addresses, among other issues, diversity management topics, to inspire women and support their growing presence across all levels of business by promoting activities such as workshops, lectures by influential businesswomen, and networking events.


A major event, organized in collaboration with the MBA Recruiting &Admissions team, is the Women in Business Conference. This event, taking place each autumn, hosts a panel of top speakers addressing issues such as work-life balance, flexibility at work, career guidance, and offers a networking opportunity to current MBA students as well as to women interested in pursuing an MBA, alumni and faculty.

"It was my pleasure to attend the WIB Conference, it was very enlightening and informative. It was a great experience. I also enjoyed talking about the Global EMBA. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and address my questions and concerns."

Jennifer Epting, American | Financial & Accounting Analyst of Duferdofin-Nucor, Nucor Corporation

To learn more about SDA Bocconi female networks, initiatives and scholarships dedicated to women, please contact:

If you wish to find out more about events and partnerships please follow the links below:


SDA Bocconi and PWA

PWA Milan (The Professional Women's Association of Milan) is a network of International women with diverse backgrounds, cultures and occupations.

PWA aims to foster personal and professional development and to provide a friendly forum for networking and growth.

PWA's members are typically independent professionals, entrepreneurs, or women with a corporate background. PWA Milan is member of a larger network, the European Professional Women's Network.

Thanks to a new partnership agreement with the School, MBA female participants are offered free membership to PWA, a great opportunity to enlarge their network and to liaise with Italian and International professional women based in Milan, including SDA Bocconi faculty and staff.

Several SDA Bocconi MBA Alumnae belong to the Association. Annalisa Gigante is presently vice president of the European Professional Women's Network. Joining this network is a great opportunity, for our MBA students, to make the MBA experience in Milan even more valuable and enjoyable.

The center has conducted research on topics such as the gender pay gap and the costs of maternity to both employees and companies.

As a partner of PWA – the Professional Women’s Association – SDA Bocconi is also involved in a project called “Ready-for-Board Women”. This project was started in 2008 to tackle the issue of low female representation on company Boards and its association with the supposed lack of suitable female candidates for Board-level positions. The project involved identifying ideal candidate profiles, creating a database of matching candidates and making it available to companies looking for new Board members.

SDA Bocconi sponsors the W.I.N. Global Leadership Conference

Among the initiatives undertaken by SDA Bocconi to further the integration of women in business and management, the sponsorship of the WIN Conference (Women International Networking) is perhaps the most successful of its kind.

Kristin Engvig, a SDA Bocconi Master graduate, is the engine behind WIN.

From the outset, the WIN Conference has received the backing of the School, which appreciates the importance of this type of meeting and sharing of experience and ideas. Topics range from the main economic and social trends under way, to the success stories of large corporations, and the themes of women's leadership and empowerment.

Each year this international conference draws 700 attendants from five continents, and is sponsored by several major international companies, such as Shell, HP, Cisco Systems, Volvo, Whirlpool, IBM, Continental Airlines, CNN, Reuters, among others.



Success stories at SDA Bocconi: Kristin Engvig

Alumna Kristin Engvig
Founder and Director at Women's International Networking - WIN Conference

Q. Why did you choose a SDA Bocconi MBA and what factors influenced your choice?
A. Well, my choice depended on a number of factors.
In the first place, it was in Milan and I wanted to go live in Italy for a year or plus at some point in my life, so I told myself “why not combine MBA with the dream of Italy?”.
In addition, some time before I met a very nice woman at the MBA Career Fair in Oslo and I became very enthusiastic about the SDA Bocconi MBA Program. In particular, at that time the Bocconi MBA was very much focused on International Economics and Management (indeed it was called MIEM) and I liked it as I had already done an entire degree at my university in Oslo in Business Administration - so this was a slightly bit different and more global than the traditional MBA.

Q. How did the choice of a SDA Bocconi MBA impacted your career progression?
A. My MBA certainly impacted my thinking; in fact it made me become more tolerant to other cultures and different ways of being.
The network demonstrated to be great and the cross cultural learning amazing: it was more the context than the content to make a difference to me. The meeting with other young ambitious people and the possibility to benchmark yourself and your national education with International people gave me a huge dose of self confidence.
Finally, I have to say it wasn’t quite a piece of cake, and simply having made it made me believe I could make a lot of other things too and helped me not being scared of huge amount of work (too much to read, became possible, even when it seemed impossible).

Q. Did your MBA experience influenced your decision of founding the W.I.N. Conference?
A. Indirectly. As mentioned above, my MBA experience gave me a more global mindset, opened my eyes for different ways of behaving and gave me a certain self confidence. Also the entire way the MIEM program was structures fit with my thinking and also with the design of the current global WIN Conference.

Q. Recently, SDA Bocconi presented the results of a research conducted by the "Diversity Management Observatory" called “Gender pay gap:dati reali e luoghi comuni” (Gender pay gap: real data and stereotypes). Apparently, the pay gap is not that big anymore, but it is much harder for women to reach top level positions. According to your experience, how do you think excellence in education can help women to fill the gap still separating the women from their male colleagues?
A. First of all, I believe in the importance of continue to educate women and men, make them work together in team, and make sure that at least the year or two they pass together in the work place is that of team members with equal chance to contribute.
It’s very important also to make sure that business cases used in the programs as learning tools feature women and men managers/CEOs, make sure that photos that are used in any profiling and educational material is that of women and men and make sure that in classes in which cross cultural and diversity issues are brought up, this issues become apparent.
Creating networks and learning about empowerment, differences and how to accept them as confident issues are keys no less important.
SDA Bocconi has a great possibility to educate and to open the minds of young people, men and women both. These young men need to go out there into the work place knowing that they can work together with women on their teams, just as well as women need to know there are hidden barriers often more difficult to tear down than the obvious ones, and still be confident they can be overcome those ceilings.

The Business of Luxury Behind the Scenes

Flavia Spena | Chief Financial and Organization Officer, Executive Vice President
Bulgari SPA
MBA: SDA Bocconi School of Management

"I wanted to add to my knowledge and my competencies, to achieve a higher level of management,” she explains. “It was a great experience. It’s not about what you learn in terms of technical knowledge, but what you learn about yourself that matters. The MBA allows you to grow, to understand your ability to manage a business".

Flavia studied economics and organizational structure at university. In her first job after graduation, she worked for a company that builds and manages highways, in the human resources division, where she contributed to business process development. That interest led her to an MBA program at SDA Bocconi School of Management. “I wanted to add to my knowledge and my competencies, to achieve a higher level of management,” she explains. “It was a great experience. It’s not about what you learn in terms of technical knowledge, but what you learn about yourself that matters. The MBA allows you to grow, to understand your ability to manage a business.”

She is now Chief Financial and Organization Officer and Executive Vice President for BulgariSpA, the Italian luxury goods company recently acquired by LVMH. In her present role, Flavia prides herself on providing clear frameworks and strategic direction for all aspects of Bulgari. “I try to be very clear about objectives,” she says. “I create interaction amongst different business units so that they can work together for the organization in a coordinated way. I spend a substantial part of every day on people and problem-solving.”

This year, Bulgari introduced a unique partnership with Flavia’s alma mater, SDA Bocconi School of Management, offering a specialized track for MBA students interested in the luxury business. Twenty among the SDA Bocconi MBA students will gain the managerial competencies required today in the business of luxury goods and services through three months of lessons at the Bulgari headquarters in Rome and a two-month in-company project in an international branch of the Bulgari Group or in a branch of other companies of the luxury sector. “The program provides tools for people interested in management positions in the luxury business,” she explains.

Not surprising for a company known as the favorite jeweler to stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Bulgari recognizes that the demands of luxury brand marketing and management differ from conventional business wisdom. “Quality, service and a personalized relationship with clients are hallmarks of the luxury business. What you sell is very limited in terms of the number of products, and service must be of an unusually high quality. Traditional metrics aren’t applicable.”

For those interested in following in Flavia’s footsteps, she advises really understanding one’s personal traits. “People should evaluate their personal skills. An MBA program helps you to identify what you are good at, and it places you amongst colleagues who are highly competent, who can push you to excel.” The pursuit of personal excellence continues to compel Flavia; “I never refuse change,” she says. “I always take the challenge“.

By Amy Heibel Amy Heibel is a media producer and president of Here Now Communications

Read the full story:

Women Bodies

Lorella Zanardo is an SDA Bocconi Alumna, who attended the MBA in 1984, a period when women in the classroom were relatively few. She has worked for many years in the marketing and communication sector, first in Unilever Italy and France and then as Marketing Director for the Mondadori Group.

Having graduated in a humanities field, the MBA experience was a hard path for her, which was filled with challenges while at the same time represented one of the most significant experiences in her personal and professional life. Through the MBA, she acquired both an internal drive and technical competences that have allowed her to forge ahead her career and her everyday life with the consciousness of being able to thrive in every kind of situation.

One of the themes that most interests Lorella is the female role in the work environment and inside society. She has decided to utilize the opportunity of unexpected time availability: “the global crisis hit the sector I work in”- she said- “but after initial discouragement I decided to dedicate myself, with some friends, to a project I’ve had in mind for a long time.” The project consisted in taking some time to watch the television programs, with a focus on the entertainment, in order to find out the image of women that is represented.

From this research came the documentary, Women Bodies (, recently presented during a PWA conference (Professional Women’s Association) a female international association, sponsored by SDA Bocconi and other top corporations.

Through this documentary, Lorella reveals in a strong and immediate way, thanks also to her wise comments, how these type of programs give a wrong image of women decried in their dignity and valued only for their exterior image, forced to disown their real bodies in order to adjust themselves to unreal standards.

What Lorella did not expect is the media interest the documentary generated from being uploaded for free on the internet. Thanks to word of mouth she appeared on television screens and in some of the most popular national (La Repubblica, L’Unità, Corriere della Sera) and international (Le Monde, The New York Times) newspapers.

Overwhelmed by interview requests and messages from all over the world, (now that the documentary has been translated in English, Portuguese and Spanish), Lorella Zanardo is beginning to show the film in the schools, where she thinks it could have a great educational impact.