Mario Alberghini is a young entrepreneur and ambassador of Made in Italy in his country, Puerto Rico. While he has inherited his passion for Italian style from his family, his career path and his entrepreneurial idea were born in Bologna, during his period of study at the BBS Global MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods.
Tell us a little about yourself: where you come from, what kind of person you are, and what kind of career you hoped to achieve when you were younger.
I can be quite a complex person, but I would rather define myself on the basis of my good faith, and the sense of passion I apply to my endeavors. I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My father immigrated from the town of Pieve di Cento, in the Province of Bologna. He was a musician who later became a menswear merchant; a very stylish man, and my inspiration in pursuing a career in Men’s Fashion. When I was 15 years old I made the decision that I wanted to develop my own business in this field. After graduating in college, I settled in New York City, where I worked for an Italian menswear company at the wholesale level for several years. That experience awakened an interest in further expanding my breadth of knowledge by engaging in an MBA program. I found BBS MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods to be a perfect fit for me at the time. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to experience ‘the Italian way’ of living close to my nonna Teresa, zio Mario and zia Laura, get to make new friends for life, and step out of my comfort zone.
How did you decide to embark on the Global MBA adventure and how did you get to choose BBS?
I came to understand in practice that we can do so much more, while we are young, in order to become more professional. There is a great deal of confidence that comes from the technical knowledge acquired during the Global MBA. I chose BBS because it is part of the prestigious University of Bologna, it was developing into a great post-grad learning institution and I wanted to be part of that growth.
How was your encounter with a new city, Bologna?
I absolutely love Bologna! I visit the city at least once a year. I still like to visit the places where my colleagues and I would go for coffee, drinks, and dinner. Gamberini and Enoteca Solferino are still some of my favorite places in the world. While I was in Italy I could often travel by train to visit the country, and I had also the chance to live in Vicenza during my internship at The Maison of the goldsmith artist Franco Pinegonda.
What do you remember with greater pleasure about your period at BBS, the courses and the professors? What were the biggest difficulties?
What I remember with most joy is the time spent with the great friends I made at BBS, feeling safe, relaxed, with a great sense of purpose. And the food! I suppose difficulty stems from adapting to new environments, different from one’s own, but that can play a part in any relocation. We had dynamic professors, interesting lectures, and a manageable workload.
Tell us more about your business, La Tigre Uomo. How was the idea born? How is Made in Italy perceived in your country?
La Tigre Uomo is a concept born in Bologna. Osteria La Tigre managed by Cesare Cremonini, a very famous Italian singer, is one the places I frequented most while studying at BBS. So, I came up with the idea of recreating La Tigre in a retail context. That is why my store uses dining tables as displays and features a fully equipped bar. That way customers can have a Spritz while they shop: usually after a couple, they tend to buy some more. The collection we offer is 100% artisan Made in Italy. The products stem from different regions, but mostly from southern Italy. I believe baby boomers have a better understanding of the value of Made in Italy. The newer generations lack the knowledge and appreciation for the art of making high-quality garments. That is why our main focus has shifted to educating the customer and being an ambassador of good taste and high quality. We want to emphasize these principles by generating engaging content that cuts through the clutter and attracts a more loyal kind of customer.
Which tools acquired during your Global MBA have you found more useful in your business adventure?
I think it was about the acquisition of a general perspective of adding value to everything we do in life. It is maturing into a mindset which prioritizes quality over superficiality. Dreaming of starting a business can be the most pleasurable thing in life because in your mind you can almost touch how perfect it is. But in reality, business is sweat, tears, risk, and volatility. It takes a strong will to take the leap into the unknown. In my case, I believe the real wealth that came out my BBS MBA was precisely a better understanding of matching beautiful experiences and/or products with meaningful business goals.
What would you recommend to a student who is considering whether to enroll into the BBS global MBA or who has just started an entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t suffer too much trying to be the best in class. At the end of the MBA, what you take home is the experience of growing as a human being amongst others, submerging yourself in another culture, your friends, your network, and the models learned in class. The global MBA is a tool in a toolbox, but being a better person because you were able to get to know yourself during this time is the most valuable result you can take with you. This is a once in a lifetime experience, and a course on character building.
Mario Alberghini – Puerto Rico
Global MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods – Class of 2010/2011
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