14 December 2022

Ideas from the past to improve the future: an interview with an alumnus by a recent graduate

Author: Luca Bianchi - International Part Time MBA alumnus 

An interview usually involves the passing of information from an informed source to a group of people interested in the topic. Here you will read about the experience of Scott Munafo, a POLIMI GSoM alumnus who graduated some years ago and has now volunteered to share some inspirational concepts with all of us.

Dear Scott, it is a real pleasure to meet you. We followed a common path at different times. My idea is to ask you something about your MBA experience here at POLIMI GSoM (which was known as MIP in your day).

Just to break the ice, can you kindly tell us something about yourself in a few words? Feel free to talk about your hobbies too.

I am Italian by birth — I’m from Milan — and I was educated at Bocconi and POLIMI GSoM, while being raised in both the USA and Italy. I had always wanted to become a professional basketball player but ended up working in the Trade Credit Insurance sector after a few significant experiences in Business Consulting.

Undoubtedly, the fact that I have an atypical (non-)Italian name is due to my parents, who lived & worked in the USA – Ohio – for many years as expatriates; I have also experienced working in different places, although I currently live & work in London with my family after having spent several years in the Asia Pacific, in Hong Kong.

I am an avid reader (above all, of Malcolm Gladwell), and I’m always curious to discover new places, people or countries (hiking in Iceland will be next), while keeping an eye on the latest results of my favourite football team – Inter Milan.

So far, this has been an unconventional and original route. May I ask you what your job is right now, and about your current role?

I work as Regional Director for the Northern Europe Region at Allianz Trade for Multinationals. The AZ Trade Multinationals unit is a dedicated team providing multinational groups with short-term credit insurance or specific cover for safe trading. We help some of the major Fortune Global 500 corporations in the FSI, Energy, TELCO, digital media, commodities and fashion industries to improve and better drive their credit risk management through the execution of tailor-made solutions along with the support of their credit business processes.

To give you some context, we give companies the confidence to trade by securing their payments while we track and analyse companies operating in markets representing 92% of global GDP to protect multinational businesses from economic uncertainty.

I’m based in London and directly responsible for our main markets (the UK and Ireland) and the rest of the regional markets, including Benelux, the Nordic countries, Central Europe & Russia.

Let’s start with some general comments: how was your MBA and what was your  POLIMI GSoM (MIP) experience like?

In one single sentence, I can easily say that the programme was intensive in all aspects but also truly transformational, rewarding and fun. I attended the part-time format over weekends while working, and it was a great experience to discover the power of managing several tricky deadlines at once (relating to work, MBA group assignments and family), while becoming a broad thinker and equally, making new friends.

The fact that students come with 5-10 years of experience from very different markets and industries adds depth to the in-class discussions and changes your way of thinking and approaching the various situations. You have peers who come from all over the world and there is a good balance of nationalities from pretty much everywhere (LATAM, Asia and Eastern Europe, just to name a few), which makes the programme an amazing experience in terms of personal growth.

There’s nothing better than a fascinating blend of people and experiences in order to open your mind and enhance your soft skills — together with various ” aperitivi milanesi” in between!

Apart from the academic training, how have the MBA and POLIMI GSoM helped you with your career? Has your approach towards the job market changed?

Being a manager or executive in any industry is tough, and being able to see the big picture beyond the day-to-day challenges of running a business is one of the most valuable takeaways for any MBA graduate. Executive business skills don’t always emerge neatly from on-the-job experience — and in the rapidly changing world of contemporary entrepreneurship, knowing the latest leadership strategies and business practices is pivotal to success.

I worked in Asia for several years right after the completion of my MBA and while I keep working in an international market environment, (a) adaptability, (b) teamworking skills and (c) resilience have been crucial since day one. In the end, these make up a certain skillset which – together with academic preparation – will follow you for the rest of your career.

Doing an MBA connects you all of a sudden with people from different backgrounds — it helps to build a network that is very diverse. Most job switches today depend on networking and so much of hiring now is based on how well you have researched the company, how much you know, how curious you are — a lot of that comes through networking during and after the MBA.

What piece of advice would you give to an open-minded professional who is considering doing an MBA? Do you also have any advice for MBA candidates who are about to graduate?

If you are already considering one, you probably realize that an MBA would be necessary for you to brush up on your management skills and become a manager, or that it will simply allow you to shape your entrepreneurial spirit. A business school offers many opportunities to learn about new roles and industries — and the chance to actually use and experiment with the skills required in a variety of roles. Be prepared to make tons of new friends, get in contact with some of the most successful companies in various sectors and shape a brand-new network of incredible professionals.

It is a commitment, it’s not easy — but if you want it, you will put in the work and I promise, you’ll love it.

Now, if you are about to graduate: well done, you made it!

Last but not least, would you like to share with us two or three of the best memories from your experience?

There are many, and they are not always related just to the time spent in the classroom as the MBA experience somehow runs in parallel with work and personal life. Also, I was the Class Representative and that has been an interesting experience overall.

I’ll always remember the first group assignment, or having long dinners after work while in a group call until just before the assignment’s deadline. I remember the discussions, the laughs and the genuine pressure to put together the best outcome even when the assignment was alien to the majority of the group members.

As well as some great parties together — in Milan or during the “Outdoor Class” — there were some amazing trips to attend weddings or other special days, as well as the boat trip to celebrate our graduation.

A specific category of memories is also related to the academic side. Some professors will end the semester’s classes with some “life lessons”, or precious advice that I will not easily forget – especially when shared 1:1 — or other memories will be of “aha” moments in class, when a classmate’s comment or a new framework changed how I saw the world in some way.

Dear Scott, I really want to thank you for your time, availability and, most of all, for having shared your experiences with me and with future readers. Your path is so interesting and will be an inspiration for many MBA candidates. Furthermore, I want to thank you, because it is always a pleasure to meet (unfortunately, remotely) such a professional as you. I hope one day to meet you in person so as to strengthen a fruitful relationship.

14 December 2022

No article found