06 October 2021

Anyone can take part in a Part-Time MBA: the more diverse the people, the richer the experience

Author: Fabrizio Liponi and Edoardo Samanni, International Part Time MBA alumni

After the discussion of our Project Work, Edoardo and I were hanging out, relieved and relaxed, waiting for our colleagues Giuseppe and Antonio so that we could go and celebrate together. We began summing up our feelings, our emotions, and our understandings at the end of those two intense years of the Part-Time MBA.

F: Why did you decide to enrol in an MBA course at MIP? Since I decided that an MBA was the step I was missing in my learning path, choosing MIP was quite easy. I’m an engineer, Politecnico di Milano is my alma mater, and I knew that I wanted a focus on innovation and technology. But you have a different background!

E: You’re right. I achieved a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages for International Relations, which gave me a solid base of linguistic skills and robust theoretical knowledge to help me to develop very useful soft skills, in particular negotiation and cultural intelligence. I also learnt the initial models of micro- and macroeconomics. Those skills were crucial in the early part of my career, in a sales department managing stakeholder relations and interests and working out internal processes. What about you? In class you were one of the few with a role in operations. I can still remember when you introduced yourself on the first day: “My working background is on construction sites, a tough, harsh environment: along with learning, I’m here to improve my relational soft skills, so if you perceive me as rough, please tell me”. Do you think you’ve achieved your aims?

F: Among people in sales, marketing, HR, R&D, planning and consulting roles, we’re a true minority! And as far as my soft skills are concerned, I think I’ve succeeded. Teamwork was a real challenge for me at the beginning, and a couple of hours ago we delivered a project that is the synthesis of the passion and efforts of four different minds and strong personalities. Conflicts forced me to practice emotional intelligence, tight deadlines to collaborate, different mindsets and backgrounds to train adaptability. I was able to listen and learn from all my colleagues, and I was amazed by your ability to de-escalate disharmony in our team, like a conductor recalling soloists to the music. How about your soft skills journey?

E: At the beginning, I can say that I had an advantage. I think commercial roles are true gyms for quickly developing soft skills, exposing you to various situations when people, interests, behaviours, and expectations must be put together on the same scale. But facing different working styles was a challenge for me too: I was worried that three engineers in the same team as me might be a nightmare! In particular, my biggest fear was that the gap in scientific and technical knowledge between me and you would prevent efficient communication and teamwork. Quite the opposite! One of the most important lessons is to transform differences in values, together, as a team. In fact, what I didn’t expect on my MBA journey was that classmates are not just a part of the package but the glasses that make you focus better and, often, the reason why you won’t give up.

F: That’s part of the biggest question. What about your initial expectations, two years later?

E: Take a step backwards. My work training was a “learning on the job” style: I often had the chance to verify and reject the effectiveness of my theoretical knowledge on the ground. Despite this experience, it was crystal clear in my mind that something was missing: I had many dots in my mind but still, few links. And this applies both to my learning and my career path, as I like to think of them linked together. To be honest, I was a bit lost too; rushing through everyday life wasn’t allowing me to put things in order and there was increasing chaos. I needed a roadmap for my personal career, but above all for my immediate future.
The outcome of the MBA experience? I took one step back and a deep breath, and I can now see the bigger picture! Dedicating the last two years to my personal growth has put everything else into perspective and given me a new, specific knowledge and mindset about who I should (and want to) be as a professional. I have collected a lot of specific hints and precise directions to dive deeper into what most interests me.

F: I had similar feelings when I was evaluating whether a Part-Time MBA at MIP was the right choice for me. The lack of a bigger picture was a trigger for me too. If I wanted to be the main character in my future career, I needed to change my point of view to set the path. I felt like I was walking in the jungle and I felt stuck in an environment that I knew and I was able to face, but I was not completely aware of the dynamics and the final destination of my path. I decided to climb the hill and reach the observation point so that I could understand where I was and decide where I wanted to go.
This mindset of curiosity, an openness and a propensity to get involved are keys to achieving a change in your point of view. And I agree when you say that colleagues help us to focus better on this target: a shared involvement helps you to overcome your personal limits and accept new challenges. We learn during the classes, but we also learn from each other: I can’t count how many times seeing different approaches and expertise at work amazed me and helped me to improve myself. Do you remember how we, the three engineers on the project work, were amazed by your perception map?

E: That was cool! But I should say, “the three engineers” is a joke: your personalities and approaches are so different! And I should say, this is a real chance to learn. The more diverse the people you work with, the more opportunities you have to be enriched.

F: I’m grateful to have shared my MBA experience with such diverse people. From the top of the hill, each of us will leave with new targets and a new path: but we’ll definitely keep in touch, we’ve shared such a meaningful period in our lives.

06 October 2021

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