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I am Italian and I left my home country four years ago. At the time, I was eager to leave behind a mature market that offered few opportunities for my generation and a political system that I believed was incapable of understanding the real needs of the people.
My generation is eager to find leaders who can create an inspiring environment and it was the hope of working with capable leaders that made me want to travel and work overseas.
After more than two years in India as country manager for Luxottica, the Italian eyewear maker, where I experienced a multicultural business environment and acquired significant responsibilities, I took one of the most difficult decisions in my life. I decided to study for an MBA.
The opportunity costs were clear: if I wanted to continue my education, I had to leave an interesting and challenging job in a successful company. But my desire to enhance my international career opportunities in Asia – and to develop my knowledge – persuaded me to study for an MBA at China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.
After living in India, Ceibs seemed to me the perfect option; not only for its international ranking but also for its western-eastern approach, which I consider fundamental to providing valuable insights into how to become a business player in the international environment.
The school provides a means of experiencing the complexity of the business world: giving its students the opportunity both to study in a multicultural environment and also live in Asia and experience this intricacy personally.
Studying at Ceibs, where students from east and west are able to share different approaches and perspectives when working on the same tasks, helped us to open our minds and understand the real meaning of diversity.
I believe that a fundamental knowledge of the differences between the Asian and western culture is crucial to successful business relationships: for example, I learnt how important the role of the leader is in the Chinese culture.
Leadership has to be about more than being a leader in the workplace: companies expect their managers to influence other people’s behaviour in a broader way. This implies that relationships do really matter if you want to achieve any task. If your team does not acknowledge you as a leader, no task will be accomplished.
Studying at Ceibs also gave me a unique opportunity to practise the skills I had acquired at school when I worked, during my summer internship, at one of the most successful Italian companies in China, Ermenegildo Zegna, the luxury men’s wear brand.
The project that I focused on during my internship offered an extraordinary learning experience. I had to design a risk assessment for the retail division. For this, I had to understand the importance of flexibility within a company’s operations so that it can tackle any market condition. Knowledge of the market and the ability to anticipate its trends proved to be the key factors for success in changing environments.
Working in Zegna, which has branches worldwide, gave me a valuable experience that complemented my classroom learning. Needless to say, such takeaways are critical in any job, especially with the current financial turmoil in mind.
Now, at the age of 33, I have almost finished my MBA journey and I understand how my experience at Ceibs is helping me to prepare for the future.
It has without doubt been a period of hard work, but it has given me the tools to help me face an unpredictable future and to develop skills that will allow me to turn uncertainties into opportunities. Looking for a job in the current market is definitely a significant challenge – which, thanks to my training, will be tackled with a different mindset.
In a global business environment that is becoming increasingly unpredictable, I have to be able to deal with continuous change. My MBA experience at Ceibs has equipped me to do so.
Those of us who have been preparing themselves to return to the job market over the past year are better placed than others and have the flexibility and innovative ideas that the current situation requires.
We have been given the confidence to face the professional challenges ahead.