20 February 2023

From Finance to Technology: a story of exploration and transformation


Having graduated from Politecnico di Milano and following a period working abroad in her initial chosen area of specialisation, Silvia Procacci moved on to POLIMI GSoM to further her career with a change of direction. Here, she recounts her story, taking a frank look at the potential insecurities which surround making such a bold step but showing how a combination of persistence and a great deal of reflection have paid off.

  • I understand that you have a background in finance, having studied Mathematical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, and that when you arrived at POLIMI GSoM you were interested in moving into the field of technology. Could you tell us a little more about that?

That is correct, I had deepened my interest in Finance after having attended the Math Engineering course at the Politecnico and selected the Financial Engineering specialization. After having worked for around 7 years in Investment Banking in London and despite being in the beating heart of the industry, I had lost a bit of focus and I noticed that the Banking sector was no longer giving me interesting cues. I reflected on the fact that the recent and appealing topics of innovation and digital transformation were somehow lacking in that industry and realised that despite massive investment in technology taking place, there was a problem of mindset shift and laziness of adoption from the management layer. Also, old-style working habits and a lack of flexibility were starting to be too restrictive for me, so I decided to jump ship and take the opportunity to study and experience at first hand those topics that aroused my curiosity.

  • What was your primary ambition at that time? Did that ambition change in any way during the course, and if so, how, and why? What were the thought processes which led you to decide on this particular future?

To be fully transparent,  I had no clear ambition at the moment I enrolled in the MBA: I had decided to pursue this route to explore some themes I liked and to better study those concepts but had no clear picture of what type of future that sectorcould have in store for me.

I was ready to find that out, but also scared to discover that maybe I was not prepared enough and that those 7/8 years of experience in a completely different sector would be detrimental to the purpose of finding an experienced job position in the Tech & Digital Transformation industry.

During the MBA year, I explored the possibility of joining the consulting industry as well, but then ended up interested in Design Thinking,Lean Startup and Agile Methodologies, and decided to join a company where I could actually perform some type of consulting but leveraging these innovative tools in the field of tech and digital. This is how I ended up at IBM Consulting, working as a mobile application and customer experience transformation consultant.

  • What is/are the greatest lesson(s) you have taken from your classmates/peers? And from one particular lecturer/professor?

The international exposure you gain throughout every single day of class is really enriching. Being surrounded by cultures and nationalities so different form yours really adds value to this. It was inspiring to listen to many colleagues who travelled the globe to find their real inspiration and it was reassuring (in a way) to see how many were in my same “kind of lost” situation.

In terms of professors and lecturers, many of them were truly inspirational but — if I have to choose one — I believe the agile project management course was really inspiring for me: I remember taking the class fully online, as it was right before Christmas and so many of us were at home with Covid. Leveraging exactly those same tools he was teaching us about during classes, Professor Buganza was really capable of demonstrating to us a hands-on approach showing how being flexible and agile can shape the day-to-day working experience. Throughout an extremely interactive class involving a great deal of participation, we discovered the agile framework and learnt how relevant the theme is nowadays, in a world where collaboration and work are becoming more and more remote and hybrid.

  • Which particular areas or aspects of your MBA course are serving you best in your new position at IBM?

For sure all the Bootcamp sessions were very powerful and effective in showing us how to adopt some of the most recent and used techniques in the Innovation landscape.

Lean Startup, Design Thinking and AI bootcamps all impressed me and are — by far — some of the tools I am using most in my daily job at IBM when conducting workshops with clients and introducing them to the power of digital revolution.

20 February 2023

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