Hybrid MBA English Edition – an interview with Giorgio Prodi

25 September 2023

Giorgio Prodi, associate professor of economics at the University of Ferrara, Department of Economics and Management, is director of Asia and Pacific relations and director of the Hybrid MBA English Edition.


-An Online MBA in Hybrid formula with only one week in-person during the training year: for which profiles was this program designed?

As with all Executive Master’s programs, it is aimed at profiles with significant work experience, of 3-5 years, in technical or managerial roles and who want to grow in the company. It is a course of study designed for those who, in addition to their busy work lives, do not reside close to Bologna and would therefore find it difficult to attend a course in person at our location. We have a very diverse class in terms of background, with students from South America, the United States, and Asia. The focus on the excellence of the Emilia region, which has a global business network, remains central.

In addition to the online lectures, we associate a very intense on-campus week with different activities: from meetings with executives to Company Visits, to touch the knowledge learned during the lectures and to meet professors and course colleagues. This is also an important opportunity to networking that is crucial for one’s personal and professional future.


-The English-language formula with participants from an international background gives the classroom network extra value, how does this combine with the professional growth of the participants?

The diversity of the classroom is by class composition and faculty very large. With an all-English course and online teaching sessions, we have recruited experts from all over the world, and colleagues teaching in different business schools with different methodologies. Thus, to an extremely diverse group of students in terms of geographic origin and cultural background, we have combined an international, equally eclectic Faculty.

The classroom thus is complex: it presents challenges, such as having to relate to different cultures. But this is precisely one of the peculiarities of global business, and having an important contact with it already in the study phase is an added value. The delicate work excellently done by the faculty is precisely to put people from distant cultures on the same wavelength.


-Mentoring activities are one of the main focuses of the program, how are these developed in an online formula and how can they concretely support the class toward achieving the next career steps?

Mentoring only works if there is alignment between the transmitter and the receiver. You must have trust. Fortunately, our team has a great manager like Eugenio Sidoli who, in addition to being CEO of the Max Mara Group and thus being able to pass on enormous work experience, has dedicated himself to this activity with great passion. The mentor can help his mentee both on major strategic issues and on soft skills, which are often underestimated and yet equally important for growth and career advancement.

Even with an online format, I believe this meeting happens efficiently and is one of the strengths of the Master’s program.


-The trend of the moment is A.I., how does the Hybrid MBA approach it?

A.I. is now a cross-cultural topic. Ours is not a technical master’s program, so a topic that is so complex and can become specialistic is seen in its less tech and more cultural component. Artificial intelligence influences so many topics and is coming into any aspect of business but also into broader issues: it is a topic of serious confrontation, for example, between the U.S. and China, and it influences both their commercial and political exchange.

It is, to resume, a topic that, among its many declinations, in our Master’s program becomes a tool that we try to make understood in order to recognize its influence on different sectors.


-How is Bologna Business School positioned in an international learning context? What are its strengths, especially in online education?

Overall, I think it is a school that makes adaptability a strength. It is not among the largest, in terms of quantity of students, but it has multiple excellences. It is comparable to schools of great tradition. Perhaps also because of its size, it has an adaptability and flexibility that other institutions cannot offer.

On-line is a significant challenge: it brings us to compete with the historic business schools around the world on the one hand, and with the educational institutions that were born precisely because of the web on the other. We want to bring back the peculiarities of Bologna Business School in courses that do not involve in-person participation, although the on-campus week remains a very important moment. It is immersive, rich in face-to-face work, and hands-on experience. It serves to connect the class, to create the network that is one of the flagships of BBS: a set of relationships that are born in the classroom and then blossom over time when the student becomes an Alumnus and remains involved by the School in training activities and by colleagues in the networks that lead to professional growth. It is the crowning achievement of the Master’s program.


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