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