12 September 2023

Relocation, Renewal and Regeneration

Author: Samantha Williams, Full Time MBA student
Relocation, Renewal and Regeneration - POLIMI GSoM

Our International Full-Time MBA graduate, Samantha Williams, originally hails from California, where she has both studied and had experience working in the non-profit sector. After her study course took her to Italy for a year she hankered to return and so opted for the POLIMI GSoM Full-Time MBA course. Having made the most of her studies she is now truly living the School’s purpose, aiming to improve the future for all by working in the field of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. See her story below:

Can you tell us something about your background and previous experiences, and why at a certain point in your life you decided to attend an International Full-Time MBA at POLIMI GSoM?

I went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, and studied History and Italian. One year of my studies was spent in Italy, where I developed a passion for the culture and lifestyle and always wanted to return. After university, I worked in the NGO (non-profit) sector where I enjoyed helping different groups of people and interacting with the community. I always wanted to return to Italy, and given my experience in the non-profit sector, I felt that an MBA would be the best catalyst to make my career and life change happen. POLIMI Graduate School of Management attracted me because of its strong STEM approach and reputation, as well as its ties with Milan and the companies present here.

What are the greatest lessons you have learned from the MBA, not only in terms of hard skills, but of course also in terms of soft skills and human capital of relations with professors, colleagues and alumni?

The MBA provided a solid foundation of business knowledge and key concepts, but also lessons on important soft skills like negotiation, leadership, and people development. I took particular advantage of POLIMI GSoM’s offerings of roundtables, events and similar activities to grow my network in Milan. Ultimately this network helped me during Covid to explore potential opportunities and become familiar with companies and associations active in my area of interest, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

During the MBA, you developed your final project work for AVSI, a not-for-profit organisation. How did that experience allow you to have a positive impact on society?

I enjoyed my project work with AVSI because it is part of the non-profit sector in which I worked in the USA, although AVSI, being an international non-profit, enabled me to learn more about NGO activities in different parts of the world. I was able to participate in calls with AVSI employees in Italy, Rwanda, Mozambique, and Kenya, learning about the programs in those countries aiming to address the specific needs of the local communities. I always looked for my work to have a positive impact on someone, somewhere, and was able to leverage on my experience in the USA in this project work. Now, in my current role in DE&I, I am starting to re-encounter the pay-by-results scheme that I studied with AVSI through an investor lens on company ESG efforts.

After the MBA, you joined Prysmian Group, where you now work on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: what is the purpose that guided your career development? Which values motivate you in facing the professional challenges?

I had always been passionate about working in a role that helped others – whether that was in the non-profit sector or the for-profit sector. As a white American, I benefit from certain privileges that are denied to others, privileges that really should be the basis of how everyone is treated. During my university studies, I became aware not only of the privileges I am afforded simply for my skin color, but also of the long history of violence, oppression and racism in the USA and across the world. What I aim to do in my current role is to educate my colleagues in the realities of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, and all the other biases present in our societies, but I also aim to create policies and programs that reinforce an inclusive working environment where everyone is able to perform their best and not face barriers to their career goals. As I face challenges in this work, I remain grounded in my convictions that we need to be aware of the inequalities that are present all around us however uncomfortable that may be, and we need to push for truly equal opportunities, not only because it is proven to be good for business, but because it is right.

12 September 2023

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