At the beginning of this year I decided to take on a new adventure and to move to Milan to pursue a Master in Fashion, Design and Experience Management MAFED at SDA Bocconi.

As the lasts week of my master’s degree are approaching and with my graduation set for next month, I wanted to look back at some special moments throughout this year.

During this master, I got acquainted with many subjects, from corporate finance, to buying to CRM and many more. Within these subjects, I have had the opportunity to meet many important people from the fashion industry, from brands such as Fendi, Valentino, Moncler, Prada Group and Hermès, who shared a look into their professional career and useful insights from the industry. Moreover, working on branded projects together with my classmates, provided me with first-hand experiences.

These experiences not only took place in Milan, but together with the rest of the class, we have travelled to Paris and New York to take part in fashion-related activities. Furthermore, we have been invited to the CHANEL Métiers D’Art Fashion Show in Florence, which was an incredible opportunity.

All of the above mentioned moments, have shaped my master’s into a multi-faceted, creative and insightful experience.

Today, together with my fellow teammates Nicole Degreas, Cecilia Pierobon and Marilena Cozzi, we are finishing up our last group project for Bottega Veneta.

I am proud of my achievements thus far, grateful for the many friendships, the opportunities I received and am excited for what my future holds.

Lastly, I would like to thank Emanuela Prandelli, the director of MAFED for the amazing opportunities, Lucia Paladino for organising our trips to Paris and New York, and to my professors for providing me with useful insights and preparing me for my professional career.

Georgette Arends
MAFED21, 2022

Great experience, with great professors who are always prepared to answer any questions one might have about the courses we undertake. I can’t hide the fact, that this is an intense and very demanding master program, but I can assure you that by giving us real life examples of real companies’ case studies and projects it gives us the right professional preparation for our future careers. 

On a personal note, this master is being a life changing experience as it’s teaching me how to manage and cope with difficult tasks under the pressure of time, and how to work in a team in an effective way!

Luca Maramotti
MAFED21, 2022

MAFED is the perfect starting point for those who want to work in the industry, an intensive, comprehensive, international Program full of guest speakers like department managers from big brands, for example Hermes, Chanel, LVMH, Luxottica. They passed us real life experience and of case studies in collaboration with big brands such as Fendi, Sephora, Swarovski and more. I gain a lot from the professors' up-to-date courses every single day. MAFED offers me a unique opportunity to have a peep of how these companies operate and what brings them to success - it equips me for life. 

Miao Qi
MAFED21, 2022

MAFED has provided me with an incredible opportunity to meet key players in the field, and leverage my quantitative background to enter and understand the exciting and glamorous world of fashion and design.

Julia Shevchuk
MAFED21, 2022

If I were to think of one word to describe the MAFED journey, it would be - extraordinary. This year was truly not ordinary. Here, I am not only addressing the covid-19 and the extraordinary circumstances we started this year but also the extraordinary learnings, life experiences, and friendships we gained. Since we joined the program, we had the opportunity to learn about 22 courses spanning management, marketing, finance, fashion, and digital fields. We were extraordinarily lucky not only to learn about these topics through our amazing professors but also through more than 30 other industry leaders. Nonetheless, there were the extraordinary times spent as a group together – the celebrations, trips, including Paris, Madrid, Vicenza, company visits, late studies, and many group projects in which we laughed, cried and in the end celebrated all the learnings. I cannot thank enough our amazing Program Director Emanuela Prandelli, all the professors, guest speakers, other valuable members of the MAFED community and my classmates for making the past year extraordinary and for giving me the confidence and knowledge to overcome future challenges in the industry and the society we leave in.

Emilia Skoric
MAFED20, 2022

After graduating in Business Economics and Management at Bocconi University, destiny decided to bring me back to what had been my second home for three years, and on 25 February I proudly graduated cum laude from MAFED. “Students for a while, Alumni forever”. Only six words that perfect embody the concept of a choice that will guide me for the rest of my life. This quote keeps coming back to me: being part of the large Bocconi family does not end at the end of my Master course, but it is precisely in this moment that the added value of my choice reaches its maximum expression. I have always believed that Bocconi's intrinsic value is made by the people who, through their diversity, can bring richness to themselves and to others, every single day. The Bocconi Alumni Network is exactly what transforms your academic path at Bocconi into a life changing experience that makes me feel part of a community of extraordinary human beings that share the same passion for achieving what we love the most allowing us to transform our lives into a masterpiece. Three weeks ago, I started a new and exciting chapter as Junior Controller at Chanel in Milan, and I firmly believe that this will be only the first step of a path in which Bocconi has played the major role in ensuring that my biggest dreams can come true. MAFED represents the most insane year of my life but I truly believe that belonging to the Bocconi Alumni community will be the beginning of a never-ending path to bringing some beauty in this world: change is in our hands!

Luca Previato
MAFED20, 2022
Junior Controller at Chanel

I am Eugenia Giorgi, 26-year-old, MAFED class of 2022, awarded with a partial merit-based scholarship and graduated Cum Laude. Besides being the most enriching and unforgettable journey of my life, MAFED really taught me how to enhance beauty and style into completely different environments with a global perspective. With luxury brands having to interact with consumers in an omni-channel, AI-powered world, MAFED gave me the chance to deep dive into customer experience and centricity through an insightful week-long Digital Strategy & E-commerce course in partnership with YOOX Net-a-Porter, learning how to proactively react to a fast-paced and forever changing online environment. I am now working as a Brand Specialist at Amazon, the most customer-centric, data-driven and innovative company in the world. My job encompasses consulting some of the most renowned Italian top-tier family-based companies within the wine industry providing them with business advices to improve their presence on Amazon and consequently on other marketplaces. I am glad I put in practice every day MAFED's fundamentals.

Eugenia Giorgi
MAFED20, 2022
Brand Specialist at Amazon

My professional journey started in EY consulting firm in Milan, after graduating with a Bsc in international economics and a Msc in general management at Bocconi University. I first approached consulting to further develop the soft and hard skills any good manager needs: the ability to work under pressure within strict deadlines and to always come up with a solution. During my two years as finance consultant, I had the possibility to travel and to experience the dynamicity of such a job, which enabled me to enrich my skills portfolio in terms of client relationships and familiarity with IT tools. Nevertheless, following my rooted attraction for the Luxury industry, I decided to enroll in SDA Bocconi’s MAFED program, which revealed to be an unforgettable experience: from joining conferences on the latest business matters to networking with outstanding guest speakers, great CEOs and managers and, most of all, to establishing a deep bond with my classmates and future colleagues. Last month I started working in the Global Retail Merchandising team in Balenciaga HQ in Paris. I can claim that the environment is extremely stimulating and challenging, with intense schedules and rhythms which inevitably require a strong commitment. I realized how my experience in consulting provided me with the efficiency and speed to face the daily activities, while my specialized Master in SDA  Bocconi taught me the language and the technical knowledge needed to understand the Luxury and Fashion mechanism.

Beatrice Singlitico
MAFED20, 2022
Global Retail Merchandising at Balenciaga

MAFED was a whirlwind, life changing year that I will never forget, and by which I am forever changed. In the middle of a global pandemic, I, like many of my classmates, took the crazy chance to move to a new country while the whole world was still upside down, unsure of how classes would be held and what our daily lives would look like. We felt the fear and we did it anyway - our very own crash course in learning to trust our instincts.

If there’s anything covid-19 has taught us, it’s that we are resilient. Things may not always go as planned, but we were able to adapt and persevere. Covid-19 also taught us just how quickly the world moves, just how quickly the world changes. Our year flew by quicker than I would ever have imagined. When I look back, I wonder how we managed to fit it all in: all the classes we started, all the project and exams we carried forward. Nevertheless, amidst the stress, the late nights, the many group projects, and the hours spent pouring over slides and notes we made it, yet another reminder that nothing worth having comes easy.
Most importantly, I can say, without a doubt, that this year was well-spent, having learned a lot about business, fashion, and myself. We learned, we grew personally and professionally and we will all become better people and employees for it. And one day, I can only hope we will each be invited back to Bocconi to tell the future MAFED students how this incredible experience had helped us achieve our dream career.

Hailey Druker
MAFED20, 2022

The MAFED program at SDA Bocconi was truly an enriching experience! Having worked for several years prior to entering the program, I wanted to enhance what I had learned in the workplace and fill gaps in my knowledge. The MAFED gave me unique exposure and insight into the luxury fashion industry and equipped me with a broad skill set, from merchandising to corporate finance. I had access to interesting teachers, guest speakers and inspiring classmates and gained confidence in areas I had previously overlooked. For young professionals seeking first-hand experience and knowledge in the luxury fashion industry, I would highly recommend MAFED.

Jessica Brus - Canadian
MAFED19 , 2019-2020

The MAFED program at SDA Bocconi is an extremely well rounded and unique learning experience. The course content is exceptional, as it is a top tier business program that is tailored to the fashion & luxury industry. There is a perfect balance of analytical and creative courses to ensure students are exercising both skill sets. What really sets the program apart is the amount of real-world experience. Many assignments were in partnership with some of the biggest brands in the world. Being able to present your ideas to executives at these companies is an opportunity unlike any other. Having now completed the course in the year 2020, I can confidently say the MAFED program exceeded my expectations even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. 

Elio Di Gregorio - Canadian
MAFED19 , 2019-2020
Press&Communication at Valentino

MAFED is a true masterclass in the business of fashion and an invaluable investment for anyone looking to pursue a career in such a competitive and fast-moving industry. SDA Bocconi is one of the world’s leading business schools and attracts the very best global talent, creating a diverse mix of highly ambitious and accomplished people and a stimulating environment of academic excellence. The MAFED programme is structured by industry experts to include in-depth study of the fundamental pillars of business, delivered in the context of luxury fashion. There is a focus on data-driven analytics, merchandising and corporate finance alongside in-depth courses in digital marketing, customer experience and retail. Perhaps the biggest strength of the MAFED programme is the direct access to professionals at the very top of the luxury industry, with many opportunities to meet and learn from CEOs and benefit from valuable networking opportunities. As a professional in the luxury industry, MAFED gives you a real edge. 

Ella Phillips - British
MAFED19 , 2019-2020
Events Team at Valentino

The MAFED program at the SDA Bocconi was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to not only meet key people in some of the biggest luxury brands but also get a unique behind the scenes look at how these brands operate and why their products are so cherished. SDA Bocconi has worked hard to grow an expansive network within the luxury world and allow their students direct access to it by organizing company visits, guest speakers, and helping the students find job placement within the most coveted names in the industry. They have also set up a framework that helps each student decide on a career path and feel prepared after graduation. I truly believe this is a key program for anyone looking to learn about and enter into this highly sought-after industry.

Katya Reichart - American
MAFED18, 2018-2019
E-Commerce and Omnichannel Merchandising Analyst, Versace

Describe your MAFED experience.
The MAFED program has truly been a unique learning experience. Not only learning through the classroom but also from the different aspects of life that mold you into who you are overall. As an international non-EU student, life in Milan is very different for me, the combination of foreignness and the MAFED program have helped me view life in a very different perspective.

What is the strength of the SDA Bocconi MAFED network?
The strength of SDA Bocconi MAFED Network lies in community the MAFED program has built around its students (current/ alumni). The program faculty and director have helped create a warm and heartfelt environment where all the students feel they are always welcome to come back. This is also elaborated by the SDA Bocconi through their many networking events that bring together people from across the world to learn, teach, and inspire one another.

Why would you recommend the SDA Bocconi MAFED?
I would recommend it because the overall structure of the program has truly raised my bar to the next level in terms of my mindset on the fashion industry. My understanding, in such a short period of time, of the processes and operations that govern the fashion industry have helped grow my interest in the field. To indulge into the complexity of the fashion industry requires a mindset that only the SDA Bocconi MAFED can help you achieve.

What has impressed you most about the SDA Bocconi MAFED?
The network opportunities that you build, not only with fellow students or graduates but also our own professors and mentors. In my personal experience at MAFED so far, I managed to explore many opportunities that started with the exchange of business cards to becoming profitable transactions in under two months.

Your MAFED in 3 words.
Exciting, bold, inspirational.

Bassel Awada - Lebanese
MAFED18, 2018-2019
WW Customer Relations Management, Loro Piana

What is the Milano advantage?
The Milano advantage is having the privilege to study in the fashion capital of the world. The city gives you access to so many events, locations, and people that you would not have access to in any other city.

What has impressed you most about the SDA Boccon MAFED?
What has impressed me most is the network the program has built and shares with its students. Students have the opportunity to utilize this network and have exceptional company visits that you would not get to do with any other school or program. In addition, the diversity of the student body is impressive, with over 20 nationalities present in the class, which makes for a great learning environment.

Why would you recommend the SDA Bocconi MAFED?
I would recommend it because it offers unparalleled knowledge about the fashion industry, and so many doors to enter the industry, especially for students like myself who have no fashion background. In addition, you get experiences that you would never get at other schools such as luxury company visits, networking cocktails, and guest speakers coming from a multitude of different companies. Being in Milan is like no other experience - being in the center of luxury gives you experiences like no other.

Isaac Alexander Battat - Canadian
MAFED18, 2018-2019
Business Analyst, Office of the CEO, Versace

Why would you recommend the SDA Bocconi MAFED?

The MAFED program is extremely well-rounded for an individual who wants to enter the business of fashion and related industries. The program is formulated in a way that provides one to build their business knowledge but with a heavy focus on fashion, retail, customer experience, luxury and also within other areas such as luxury automotive and hotelerie. The program also has unique exposure to executives within the industry due to being in Milan. The ability to meet executives from top brands and to also visit many companies to see production of leather goods to flagship stores is not something every program in the field can offer.

What has impressed you most about the SDA Bocconi MAFED?

The diversity of the courses offered along with the large number of opportunities to meet executives from many different companies, brands and fields. It is definitely a program where a student can take the initiative to meet high-level executives with the many opportunities presented to them in class and during company visits.

What didn't you expect from your Master that has positively surprised you?

I don’t think I realized how much I could learn and take away from the program. I feel I can partake in many positions within a brand now and I have a knowledgeable perspective on the fashion and luxury industry that I would not have had otherwise.

Describe your SDA Bocconi experience and the importance of taking an International Master in Milano, at SDA Bocconi.

My SDA Bocconi experience was incredibly memorable. As an American, it was challenging yet so exciting to partake in an International Master and to be immersed in Italian life for nearly 12 months. I had the ability to work with students from 26 different nationalities and to experience fashion and luxury from one of the fashion capitals being Milan. In addition, I loved being able to see many different companies and brands first hand whether it be a tour of a production facility in Northern Italy or Florence, or visit an haute couture atelier in Paris. I also feel that the Master was very well-rounded and I am the most satisfied with the level of knowledge I obtained from the program.

Suzanne DeFelice - American
MAFED17, 2017-2018
Merchandiser - Cruise Line Logo & Itinerary Apparel, Starboard Cruise Services, a LVMH Company

Why would you recommend the SDA Bocconi MAFED?

MAFED equips you with the edge you need to become an international and well-networked fashion/design management professional. You have the opportunity to build up relevant management knowledge tailored to the respective industries, whilst gaining valuable "real-world" experience in projects with leading companies of the fashion/design industry. This combination of academic excellence, practical application of learnings and networking opportunities is unique from my perspective and sets the stage for the next step in your career.
What has impressed you most about the SDA Bocconi MAFED?

The strength of MAFED relies upon a diverse student body from different professional backgrounds, countries and all ways of thinking. Even if I had studied and worked abroad before, I had never experienced working with such an international crowd of people. It was demanding, but also very intriguing to overcome cultural differences, learn about different ways of working and to work on great projects together. This way I could not only build a strong professional network for the future, but also real friendships with people from all over the world.

Describe your SDA Bocconi experience and the importance of taking an International Master in Milano, at SDA Bocconi.

Milan is one of the fashion and design capitals in the world. Fashion brands such as Prada, Gucci and Versace have their headquarters in the city as well as the leading luxury e-commerce Yoox Net-a-Porter. The proximity to the industry was a great benefit for my learning experience as we had the opportunity to discuss with guest speakers, participate in company visits and worked on field projects with major Italian fashion brands.

Johannes Sieber - German
MAFED16, 2016-2017
Senior Associate, Boston Consulting Group

Why is MAFED a unique learning model?

For me, MAFED was the perfect blend of theory and practice. The level of teachers, their expertise and their real-life experience with leading companies is the core of the program, supported by excellent field trips and carefully selected guest speakers.

What is the Milano advantage?

Being in Italy and particularly in Milan is definitely one of the most important added values of the program. Stepping out of the class and examining what we have learned between the walls right on the spot is a precious experience. Carefully designed field trips in and out of Milan are the face-to-face introduction to the issues discussed in class. The location is what makes this program unique.

What is the strenght of the MAFED network?

For me, listening to the problem of counterfeiting one day and having the global legislative director of Prada to talk about it the next day in class is priceless. MAFED gains its strength from its faculty supported by the credibility of SDA Bocconi. Every professor contributes to the topics covered, by inviting very important professionals excelling in that field. For the first time after 9 years of professional experience, I am glad to meet a faculty so generous to share their contacts even before graduation.

My MAFED in 3 words

Vision, Managerial Creativity, Structure

Yasemin Karani - Turkish
MAFED13, 2013-2014
Sales & Marketing Director, Lug Von Siga

Why is MAFED a unique learning model?
MAFED allows students to open their minds and embrace the diversity that surrounds them in their everyday learning.
The program does not limit the learning of students to the classroom, but instead students are taught to deal with different cultures and to thrive on challenges by working together.
MAFED also provides a competitive environment to students, therefore allowing them to continuously learn about others and themselves.
Students are supported with knowledgeable and approachable faculty, as well as fellow students who contribute their experiences working in the Fashion and Design industry.

What is the Milano advantage?
MILANO provides the foundation for the MAFED program. The importance of Fashion and Design in the City has lead to the constant success of many Italian Companies. Students are exposed to the craftsmanship, business model, and experiences of many of these companies, further supporting the lessons they have learned inside the classroom.
MILANO also provides students with activities that support their interest in fashion and fuel their inspiration for design, such as Fashion Week, Study Tours, and Salone de Mobile.

What is the strenght of the MAFED network?
The MAFED network includes experienced professionals, graduate students, and guest speakers from different industries.
The MAFED network allows students to discover the personal and professional experience of each speaker.
Students are given a better view and encouraged to relate to the experiences of the speakers.
The support of SDA Bocconi has also allowed students to access facilities and activities to support their education and to meet other SDA Bocconi Students.

My MAFED in 3 words
Pillar of learning and creativity

Patricia Roselle Salinas Limcaoco - Filipino
MAFED13, 2013-2014
Retail & Trade Consultant, Newbury Retail Inc

It was in 2011 that I decided to apply for the MAFED program at SDA Bocconi. After having graduated in international business and having worked in fashion for one year, I wanted to deepen my knowledge about the fashion and luxury industry and expand my horizon regarding opportunities and challenges this industry offers.

In 2012, I joined the program and now, one year later I come to the following conclusions.
The learning model of MAFED is definitely unique. It is a proper business program but focused entirely on the fashion, experience and design world. Therefore, for people who are interested in exactly that field, MAFED offers a broad experience and unveils a number of possible directions for a future career path. The program helps students to get detailed insights into this creative industry and at the same time provides a strong theoretical business background, which is an absolute must for any industry. The challenges that were faced during MAFED required an open mind for creative ideas as well as managerial and analytical skills.

For me personally, it was the ideal combination at that point in time. I had a firm business background but was lacking specific fashion industry related knowledge about processes, business models and different functions within a fashion company. MAFED provided me exactly those additional competencies and a clear overview of the industry that helped define my future career path. 

Another added value was the location. Being based in Milan had several advantages for students. We were constantly exposed to the fashion and luxury world and had the opportunity to compare our knowledge from the classroom, with the real world. The field trips to production sites, stores and showrooms gave us more insights into how the industry works. Milan is the home of many leading international fashion designers and companies. Studying in this environment offered the perfect platform to understand every aspect of this world. And besides that, also outside the classroom, living in Italy definitely has its charm.
The proximity to Dolce & Gabbana, Zegna, Tod's and many more well-known fashion companies also had other advantages. Guest speakers visited us frequently from nearly every major fashion brand in Milan, or even Italy. They let us have a look at their daily life as well as the companies' structure. This was a true benefit of the whole MAFED experience. In Q&A's and after-class talks we had the unique chance to get in touch with real professionals and get an idea of their daily routines, challenges and visions. MAFED in general is a program that relies a lot on networking. Therefore, regular alumni events took place in order to let us meet with former students in an informal environment. It was very interesting to see how the lives of MAFED alumni developed after the program, where they ended up, what challenges they had to face and what they would recommend to rookies in the industry. After having graduated myself, I must say that most of what they have said was true and it helped me a lot being warned or encouraged for or against certain decisions.

The networking is also a major strength with regards to the class structure. In my class were almost 40 students from about 20 different countries. At first that might sound very exciting, which it definitely is, but it also comprises lots of challenges. Being forced to do many group projects with very different people, gave me an entirely new perspective on intercultural management. Before MAFED I lived abroad and studied with many different people. But being confronted that much with different methods of working, attitudes and habits showed me what it really meant to be open-minded. I admit it was not always easy but looking back I would not want to miss one discussion about punctuality, reliability or commitment. It all helped to shape my perception of different nationalities and showed me how to distinguish between culturally different attitudes and real problems within a team. After one year of MAFED I can now truly say I am able to embrace diversity and identify as well as manage strengths and weaknesses of an international team.

Coming to a conclusion, I believe MAFED is the perfect program for people who are passionate about the industry but still need to learn about its details. MAFED is not really a walk in the park but I can honestly say that every nightshift, every presentation and every exam was worth it. Because for me, in the end it all paid off.

In three words I would say MAFED is: very exciting, sometimes exhausting and truly international.

Lukas Mayer - German
MAFED12, 2012-2013
Licensing and Brand Development Director, MCM Worldwide

Why would you recommend the SDA Bocconi MAFED?

Because it is the best program out there! The combination of Fashion and Business is what I found most appealing. If you add one of the World’s most renowned Business Schools with the passion for fashion which you will only find in Milan, MAFED is the result.

What has impressed you most about the SDA Bocconi MAFED?

The dedication of the Professors and Teachers, the close ties to the industry and the very international alumni.

What didn't you expect from your Master that has positively surprised you?

I loved to write my business plan. It was a once in a lifetime experience and led to founding of my own brand - LILI RADU. Just recently I launched my second brand. I will always remember the hours I spent in "the box."

What kind of impact is the Master having on your life and career?

As mentioned above, without MAFED I would probably not have founded my own company, or it would have most probably not been so successful :-).

Describe your SDA Bocconi experience and the importance of taking an International Master in Milano, at SDA Bocconi.

If you want to work in Fashion, MAFED clearly has to be your first choice. After working in PR and Marketing I wanted to learn more about Fashion. The combination of Fashion and Business knowledge is what makes this program so unique. From day one, I knew that I had made the right choice. I enjoyed and sucked in every little bit of it. Not only did I learn a lot and build the foundation for my own brand but also met a very international and diverse crowd of students who are now very close friends. Today I still feel close to SDA Bocconi and am very proud to be able to hold a lecture from time to time to share my founding experience. I am not exaggerating when I say that MAFED changed my life!

Lili Radu - German
MAFED10, 2010-2011
Founder and Managing Director of VeeCollective and Lili Radu

Although less affected by the crisis than other sectors, fashion has also recently had to adopt adaptive strategies. How has it changed, what are its peculiarities and what challenges must it face today?
My answer will consider this from the viewpoint of two different experiences: the first Italian, with a luxury company like Valentino, the second American, with Tory Burch, which is a company more orientated to affordable luxury. Despite their marked differences, in many respects their approach was the same. What both companies have done was focus on the product, that is paying more attention to quality, to what customers want, and to the structure of the offering. From the selection of suppliers and the search for new talent, to the care for all of the components (creative and materials), all of which are crucial for the success of a product. It is an effort that I have noticed in all segments of the offer. They have also developed an awareness that “specialization” is important: a company needs to focus on what they do best and enhance that aspect. This is not only to optimize the quality/price ratio, but also to give credibility to the products: the companies that have been able to keep this promise are those that have survived the crisis and come out stronger. I have in mind a number of examples of companies that succeeded and companies that did not.
The crisis has also prompted, inevitably, a radical review of cost structures; not so much the product costs, as the cost of doing business, of management: there were many inefficiencies to address, as well as a lack of skills, for example we needed managers who had both general and sector-specific or product-specific skills. Now there are many high-caliber managers with such skills, and this has brought many positive changes to the companies that recruited them.
A further re-orientation that companies have been required to make – not specifically due to the crisis but because of a structural change in buying habits – was a new focus on the customer, another strategic change together with the focus on the product. With customers looking to create a rapport that is always more individual. Companies can now learn more about their customers and their shopping experiences through the development of the digital dimension, and from the increasing use of mobile devices. Before there were fewer customers and you needed to focus on those who were spending more and were closer to the brand. Now that we are out of the crisis – especially in America – and these digital platforms enable a direct and personalized relationship with a large number of people, companies must invest in these new approaches that, in the end, bring customers to the stores or to the e-commerce channels.

Earlier you mentioned to the need for new talent and new skills in this field: how important was your MAFED experience at SDA Bocconi?
When I decided to enroll on the MAFED course many years ago, I was coming from the world of finance and consulting, and I had no specific training in this field, only a great interest in it. The Master was a privileged entry point into the world of fashion: had I approached it as a graduate, I would have had to go through a long path, with few opportunities to learn about managerial best practices. Instead, a post-graduate course like MAFED allowed me to merge the financial and consulting competences that I had already acquired with those specific to the fashion and luxury goods industry. Moreover, it is increasingly important for those who approach this field to have a solid foundation in management: I remember that the program had a decidedly intense focus on general management, which provided a broader context for the industry-specific competences.

From this point of view, does the fact that MAFED is based in Italy, and in particular Milan, the city of fashion and design, have a particular value on the international labor market and for the students’ own professional development in this area?
It has great value for several reasons. The first is almost trivial, because it is difficult to find post-graduate training at the same level in other parts of the world. If we exclude Italy and France, the training available elsewhere in the world is of a much lower level. Another major plus is the proximity to the most important economic areas of the industry. Here in the U.S. there are about a dozen colleges that offer similar training programs, but they are all far from a chain of creation and development, such as Italy’s, and this is a serious drawback.

So contact with leading companies in design and fashion really helps the participants of MAFED to enter or re-launch their careers in this sector?
Definitely. Bocconi, with its historic integration with the business community, acts as a guarantor to the corporate world, assuring that their students – under-graduate and post-graduate – are trained up to the standards required by the industry. But Università Bocconi and SDA Bocconi are not just a bridge to enterprises: the close collaboration between managers, teachers and consultants has contributed to many businesses developing a culture that promotes innovation, an awareness of the value of management education and the need for young talent.

Let’s finish on a personal note: what has MAFED represented to you, on a personal level?
I must say straight away that I am a “recidivist” because I was already a Bocconi graduate. Just this morning I saw on facebook a photo of a friend with her baby, who was celebrating his first birthday. This friend of mine is a girl I met 12 years ago at MAFED. Like her, I am still in touch with a good half of the 40 other people I studied with. Some I will meet with from time to time, and not only for business purposes. With everyone, including those who I see less often, there is a deep bond of affection and esteem. Many have been successful in our industry and for many years, in spite of the diaspora that took us to different countries, there has been an ongoing dialogue and mutual sharing of professional advice that has been very helpful. In short, it was a unique experience from a professional point of view but also personally.

Paolo Riva - Italian
MAFED2, 2002-2003
Founder at Paolo Riva Consulting - Former CEO, Diane von Furstenberg