24 March 2021

The right mindset in a changing global context

Author: Simone Moscato, International Part Time MBA student

It’s already been four months since I started my experience as an MBA student at MIP. I am still struggling to find a new comfort zone while organizing my time daily to fulfil my tasks at work, while preparing both the individual and the group assignments necessary to pass the exams without forgetting to clean the flat, go to the supermarket, do some sport and finally, get some rest.

The International MBA I have chosen is a part-time program that lasts two years. I knew it would be challenging but I have to admit that it’s not easy to predict in advance how much effort is required to work and study at the same time. I constantly need to plan my activities days ahead, I set personal deadlines for assignments and online lessons, considering that one of my goals is also to keep the quality of the work I do for my job as high as possible.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 emergency is pushing companies and universities to be much more flexible while scheduling activities, considering and alternating both in-presence and from-home solutions. We’re using all the features that technology can offer, not only to live our new routine as best we can but unfortunately, also to keep our distance from people.

Actually, we should at least try to take some advantages from this emergency. In Italy, due to the non-stop changing of the restrictions imposed weekly by the government, companies are redesigning their businesses and employees’ tasks so as not to stop production, engineering works, sales or any other valuable function. There is an extremely low likelihood of a global pandemic breaking out and no company had made adequate  preparations for facing one. This is the real challenge, after all: being able to take advantage of adverse situations, especially when they affect the whole industry including direct competitors. Unexplored strategies can speed up responsiveness and make the difference now, far more than was the case in previous years.

I’ve grown up in a global context that has changed fast year by year but I have honestly never seen the cards being reshuffled so many times in such a short timespan. It’s time to sink or swim, to freeze in front of a disruptive event or to react fast to reduce its long-term impacts. I prefer seeing it as a forced training of being flexible to unpredictable events, when you are not only required to plan in advance, but also to prepare a plan B or even a plan C.

When I think of myself as I was before taking the decision to start an MBA, I would never have seen things as I am doing now. What I am experiencing at MIP is something different from what I did previously during my studies, it might depend on my personal maturity, on my work experience, or on challenges I have already learnt to deal with. But that’s not all.

Try to imagine you’re in class following a lecture on something about which you know little, only the information you’ve read online or in some book or other, and the professor asks the students for some considerations about a certain business case. Actually, you have your personal view of the problem and want to contribute, so you raise your hand and explain your thoughts. The professor listens, nods and then lets other students start a discussion about it. You find that even if your idea is fine, it can be enhanced by your classmates’ expertise and therefore you improve alongside them, while analysing case after case.

It’s so astonishing to understand that as a silo you can only be good, while as part of a team, you can seek excellence. Studying several essential topics should be only one part of the improvement path, in the end it’s more important to surround ourselves with reliable and skilled people from whom we can learn, share knowledge and points of view. In some way, when you choose to start an MBA, you’re automatically designating the university to shape a well-mixed team of students to guarantee this.

The unexpected adversities and the fast-changing environment can be properly handled by being agile and flexible, but this is not sufficient. Teamwork should also be enhanced to its maximum, starting from the operatives right up to management level.

Finally, while writing this article, I have realized that I should not be looking for a new comfort zone  ̶ rather, what I actually need is to keep myself trained to be resilient enough to face unexpected situations with fast and solid resolutions. Surely the combination of work, university and a global pandemic can be the right gym.

24 March 2021

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