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SDA Bocconi MBA - Laura '18 (Australia & Hong Kong) [Luxury Business Management]


Name: Laura Pan
Pre-MBA Education: RMIT University, Melbourne, AU
Work Before MBA: Business Process Improvement / ISO 9001 Auditor
Work After MBA / Post MBA Goals: Worldwide Retail/Store Operations Manager

Why did you pick SDA Bocconi?

  1. It called out to me:
    The Top MBA schools on my list were HBS, LBS and NYU. I never considered any other schools because my goal was to get into a top school so that it would look good on my CV. It wasn’t until I started looking at schools on the Financial Times Top 100 Business Schools that I discovered SDA Bocconi. I signed up for a few of their info sessions and suddenly felt like it was the right school for me, considering I didn’t feel the same about Columbia, Imperial or Harvard when I visited their campuses.

  2. Luxury Business Management:
    Out of the Top 100 B-Schools that offer a dedicated course in Luxury Business Management, SDA Bocconi was the right fit for the following reasons:
    a) It’s located in Milan, one of the most important cities for fashion and luxury
    b) It’s ACTUALLY located in Milan, unlike ESSEC that is located in the middle of nowhere
    c) It was partnered up with LVMH, Valentino and Gucci/Kering
    d) It was a one year (14 months) program, as compared to NYU’s two year program
    e) The companies I really wanted to work for were Fendi and Loro Piana, both Italian. - You should go to a school that could connect you to the company you wish to work for in the industry you want to jump into. Otherwise, go to a Top US B-School.

  3. Family Ties:
    My husband is Italian and his family is from Milan. When you’re married, it’s a lot more difficult to convince your significant other to drop everything and move to a new country for your MBA. Since my husband could not leave his job, it was only fitting to find a B-School located close to his family to justify frequent visits and to our advantage, his company HQ based in Milan.

Best part of program?

  1. The people I have met, of course!
    Some of the most amazing, sweet and kind people I have met in the past 3 years have been people at the MBA. I never imagine forming strong bonds with people from different walks of life, who are always there to help and protect me. I am so thankful and grateful for all the experiences, and I’m sure they feel the same about our exchanges in culture and traditions!

  2. The field trips organised by the school and the social clubs!
    Being based in Italy, we were fortunate enough to spend the day at the FCA & Alfa Romeo test drive circuit racing each other and testing out the fastest cars they product. One of our professors also brought us to the Ferrero factory where we literally could have all the chocolate we wanted. As with the social clubs, we were given the opportunity to visit Sotherby’s Auction House, some amazing art museums across Milan (e.g. Fondazione Prada), and some amazing ski slopes in the famous alps of Cortina.

Favorite learning experience - why?
As part of the Luxury Business Management cohort, we were given an exclusive look into the haute couture laboratory of Maison Valentino, the creative lab of Gucci where they make all the unique pieces to MTM and MTO (We even saw Rihanna and Katy Perry’s shoe moulds), and we spent a week in retail at Dior, Valentino, Acqua di Parma, Emilio Pucci, etc. Giving us an insight into what the luxury and fashion business really looks like from the inside.

What were you most surprised to learn about SDA Bocconi after starting the program?
That when they said it’s 14 months long and we will fly thought everything, I didn’t actually think they meant it literally! We spent the first 4 weeks covering all the finance and accounting basics. It took us out of our comfort zone and really threw us into the deep end. It really put us into the rhythm for how a MBA candidate should behave.

Not so best part of the program?
2 words: Career Service. I think this is generally the case for all European B-School. Career Service are not very useful to foreigners. Generally international companies and consulting firms who approach European B-Schools are only looking for locals or candidates who are native speakers. I know this is the case for Spain, Italy and some parts of France. Nonetheless, I still feel the career service at SDA Bocconi could try harder to place international students into internships, this way, it could attract more international students.

Is it difficult for foreign students to find jobs in Milan/Italy?
The straight answer is Yes, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just need to know which cards to play and hustle hard. I didn’t get any help from my school’s career service but I went on LinkedIn and talked a good game. When I finally got my interview, I blew them away. I was hired immediately despite being the only employee in their HQ who doesn’t speak Italian, they were able to spot talent and potential, regardless.

What should more applicants know about SDA Bocconi?

  1. It is not as disorganised as how many people says it is.
  2. Generally consulting firms are only going to place Italians, Germans and Southern European candidates.
  3. The professors have great relationships with all the Top Italian companies, so use them to your advantage
  4. If you plan to work in fashion or ecommerce, SDA Bocconi is just as prestigious as HBS, LBS or INSEAD. Probably even more so.

Feel free to ask me about…?
Why I chose SDA Bocconi
My experience during the admissions journey
Professors and Classes
Company Visits
Networking Opportunities
Career Services
Student Associations and activities
Life in Milan & Italy


Epic post!

I sincerely appreciate you sharing your thoughts and opinions – this is exactly the type of post I hope to see here on Ambassadors.

I have 2 follow up questions:

  1. You imply it, but how important is speaking Italian to landing jobs in Italy? Are certain industries more open to taking English speakers? I’d be interested to hear which “cards” seem to work for non-Italian speakers…

  2. How has your experience been with the Bocconi alumni network? And your int’l classmates too - do you have any stories here?