Where do you live now?
I live in Brussels, Belgium.
What’s your job?
I am Research Programme Officer for the European Commission. In other words, I am a portfolio manager who supervise about 15 research projects, specifically in the field of advanced manufacturing systems.
These projects are financed by the European Union and performed by consortia of universities, research centres and companies.
This job puts me in regular contact with many different actors of European industry, and I also use these opportunities to listen to their issues. This collection of opinions is essential as they will be used to shape the future EU research and innovation policy.
Looking back to my recent past, it is quite a change compared to the job I had only one year ago: now, I have the same kind of vision as the VP in charge of my function used to have. It’s quite a change of perspective!
What’s your main skill you worked on or you enhanced within your MBA experience?
Definitely, the multi-cultural approach of issues. In our MBA class, we were 48 from 24 different countries. It forces you to understand that you cannot work the same way with a Chinese, a Salvadorian or a Norwegian, even less when you are all together in a single project!
And once you find a way to work as a team, everyone must still watch for the unsaid assumptions shaping the interactions between the different members. If you don’t pay attention to them, they can ruin your efforts. Today, I work with colleagues and project members from all across Europe.
So you can imagine the MBA experience helps a lot when I have to speak to a Danish project manager whose team is made of Spaniards, Greeks and Poles!
What did you learn from the Italian environment?
The first thing: a new language. I barely spoke Italian before the MBA and in the last month of the program, I was invited to a collective job interview in Italian. We were 11 candidates and I was the only foreign candidate.
Cherry on the sundae, this interview was partially made of a simulated business meeting. At the end, I got a job offer from that company and honestly, I think it was especially due to the ease I could show in the business meeting, an ease that came from months of practice during the MBA, working on time-sharing, consensus-building and respect of the deadlines.
The second thing I learned is to be a bit more relaxed when working in a fuzzy environment. From my experience, Italians are often less rigorous when it comes to define the roles of everyone or the reporting procedures, for example. But don’t get me wrong: Italian standards are as high as you can expect and nobody will be satisfied with a sloppy job.
What’s the difference, then? It’s a generally more flexible attitude that determines the local way of working. At the end, a project meeting may sometimes look more like a brainstorming session but it also means the whole process is more agile as last minute changes are easier to insert in the final results.
What is the vision of the future regarding your career?
I think I will continue working in the management of innovation. For now, I’ll stay in the EU institutions as I am learning every day.
Later, I would like to go back to the private sector, aiming at a senior management position in research and development. When, in which country or industry? Only the future will tell…
What do you suggest to people thinking about attending a masters program like this?
I think the best advice I could give you is: find out what are your objectives and go after them pro-actively.
You want to launch your start-up? You want to become a management consultant? You want to grow the corporate ladder? You have a completely different idea?
No problem: as long as it is your own project. The MIP is well-organized and there are so many things to do during your program that you might forget this is not college any more. I mean: of course, you’re here to learn and this implies studying and working a lot.
But that cannot be everything: it is all you do on the side that will really make the difference and help you achieve your goals.