Exchange Student life: SDA Bocconi
I kept telling myself that I have to blog about my exchange student life at SDA Bocconi. But I was always occupied with my studying, meeting, travelling, etc. So I haven’t done it until today, my last day in Milano.
Our MBS has connection with 36 universities worldwide and I earned my spot at SDA Bocconi. Therefore during autumn term, while my fellow MBS students are studying their 4 electives over 3 months in Manchester, I took 7 electives over 2 months in a new country, new language, new school, new classmates and new houses. Why am I doing this? Firstly I want to learn more about business management style in other European countries apart from the UK. Secondly, I want to learn more about business strategy and innovation. Bocconi offers three concentration and two niche programmes. Three concentrations include Marketing, Finance, and Strategy while two niches are Real Estate and Innovation. So it fits with what I need. Lastly, I want to have experience studying abroad. I learn that the more I expose to the new environment, the more creativity I become because I see things differently.
SDA Bocconi & its MBA programme:
Bocconi is located in Milan and is the leading business school in Italy. The business school itself has more than 100 years of history, 37 years for MBA. Because of this, it has a strong link with business and industry. Every day I have many chances to attend a company’s presentation. (We have in Manchester as well but the difference is that Bocconi has Italian companies visited too)
The MBA building is with Master division, where the building is separated from the main business school. The teaching facilities are great and the class is small ~ 50 people in one section, same as MBS. Class participation is mandatory and is accounted for up to 25% of overall grade, depend on the subject. Students have to attend at least 80% of the class, otherwise school will fail them. (This actually happened and I know the student who failed because of not attending the class – very strict indeed). There is no student council so students contact the dean directly. I attended the town hall meeting with the dean couple times and it was very nice, informal yet effective ways of communication. However, at the end, the class will select the representative to be the class president. For MBA36, the class president is Hila Cohen. I studied with her in strategy and innovation. She is awesome!
Every course has a group assignment.(except for my strategic decision making class, which only had one final exam) School assigned the group for us and we worked in the group for the whole semester. In my case, I have two groups – one in strategy and another one in innovation. This is different from MBS where we had different group in every subject. I think at MBS, I have many opportunities to work with many different people. However, at Bocconi, I had more time learning from each other in my group because we have to work together in many projects. Another difference is the assignment itself, at MBS, it is all about the report but at Bocconi, we only prepared PowerPoint presentation, which we usually have 10-15 minutes to present. Elevator pitching applied! Two of the courses require reports but with the maximum of 10 pages. Personally, I think the workload at Bocconi is less but we had to be more focus and it does not mean that the quality is deteriorated.
The school focuses on the case discussion and the simulations where students have chances to learn through the interactive computer programmes. One of the simulations is the programme that we have to convince 22 people in the company to adopt the new ERP system. This is part of the change management course. We can use many ways to encourage change in the organisation such as email, internal memo, guest speaker, company newsletter, networking, one-to-one meeting, indirect lobbying, etc. However, we were limited by time. At the end, my team were able to convince 9 people to adopt the new system. Not successful but it was fun to learn this way.
I also learned about famous Italian companies such as Fiat, Ducati, Italtel, Amadori, Gucci, etc. Many Italian companies open up to new way of business management such as Kaizen at Fiat, but they have their own Italian culture, which they tried to emphasis the so called ‘Italian heritage’. The Professors usually invite company reps to the class for case discussion which I really like it because we are not just learning about the company but have chance to ask the question to the real source as well.
The exam for each subject is only 1.5 to 2 hours, which can be both close and open questions. One of the exam stated that student have to write answer in the maximum of 1 page. Awesome!!
My flat is 5 minutes walk from school. (Not Victoria Hall – it’s way much nicer). On the way to school, I usually either stopped by at the coffee shop near school or got myself a coffee from the coffee machine at school. Bocconi classes start so early. While at MBS, everything starts at 9am but at Bocconi, the classes start8:30 to 13:30 everyday. In the afternoon, I either attended a company presentation, finished the assignments, or planed the weekend trips. Exchange students have our own community too. There are around 40 of us. We went to the Italian class together (at least at the beginning), went to party together, or dinner together. We have our own facebook page However, when school starts we received a very warm welcome from the current Bocconi MBA students. Thank you! I went to student exchange welcome party organised by Bocconi student (not just MBA), MBA Welcome party for Class 2012 (a.k.a MBA 37), Japan Tsunami fund raising party, Entrepreneur club events, and Diwali night. So I must say that I have a very good quality time meeting new people.
Travelling & Eating:
8 weeks in Italy apart from studying in Milano, during the weekend I have been to Verona, Pisa, Bologna, Alba & Asti for truffle and wine festival, Rome, Napoli, Cortina, and Padova. I must say that Italy is so packed of many great places that I could spend months exploring. I love the beautiful mountain in the north at the Dolomiti where I never known I could take pictures of the mountains for the whole day. I love a romantic gondola ride in Venice. I enjoyed walking around the old city of Bologna and visited Juliette’s house at Verona. I could wander about Roma all day, visiting the entire ancient Roman’s ruins, piazza, and the fountains. I also love the food that it is not just pasta and pizza but parma ham, truffles, salami, seafood, beef, gelato and wines. Most of all, drinking coffee is one of the best things to do in Italy. I love café macchiato! By the way, if you order pepperoni pizza in Italy you will get pizza with pepper. If you want to have your ‘pepperoni’ pizza, you have to order salami
And that was it! I am packing my rich two months memory of studying in Italy back to Manchester. Leaving tomorrow.
Travelling in Italy, Best pizza, ravioli, and wines, Milan Fashion week, Ferrari Champaign, BVLGARI sparkling water, and MBA at SDA Bocconi, I am going to miss!
This post is 100% made in Italy.
See you in Manchester