Professor Marcello Russo’s welcome speech to Global MBA Class of 2021-2022
Dear Global MBA students of 21-22,
Welcome to Bologna Business School, welcome to Alma Mater Studiorum. You are now enrolled in a young school that has just celebrated its 20th anniversary with important achievements and an extraordinary growth plan, starting from the EQUIS accreditation that we received in September. EQUIS opens the door to a very special league in which we can play, in which you will play and that enhances the value of your degree, the league of the top business schools in the world, indeed a very exclusive league with less than 1% of business schools that are accredited.
This is my third inaugural speech, and I am happy to be here and meet you in person. It is an incredible opportunity for me to meet you and get to know your stories and career aspirations. You have decided to mark your career with a chapter to be written in our institution and we are proudly conscious of that responsibility. This is an exciting moment to be in Italy, which is leading the restart after the pandemic. We are growing at a high rate and quicker than most of other European countries and we hope this could be the start of a new Renaissance for the entire country. New investments, new jobs, new hopes and paying attention to sustainability and human beings are at the center of new Recovery Funds and investments that will constitute the pillars upon which to build our future, your future!
Each year it is strongly emotional for me to address you with these initial words that officially inaugurate the beginning of the year. Although you have already done some initial work on the program and started to know each other with the icebreaking activities, this is the official start of the program with the first two classes today with Unibo’s professors, and what professors! Competent, passionate, and professional. You will love them, despite the fact that they teach Corporate Finance and Macroeconomics!
I could list all the benefits of your being here and the investments you made in our school and the city, with a GDP that is double that of the rest of the country and the presence of incredible and cutting-edge companies, which also participate in our Program Advisory Committee.
I prefer to do a different thing. I want to provide some key words that, in my opinion, are important for you to live this year at the maximum of your capabilities and intelligence.
Last year, we were all scared of Covid. We are still now, of course, but there is a new word that is part of our vocabulary this year. HOPE!! There is the hope given by the progress in the vaccination campaign that we are close to the end of this pandemic and the world can start to rediscover the pleasure of hugs, physical interactions, and closeness. Often, we have seen lack of hope during this last year that has dominated our lives and often it is used by media as a means to instill fear and control us, dominate us.
Paradoxes. Through the pandemic, we have learnt that we need to reconcile opposite and differing goals that must co-exist to ensure the survival: reconcile the tension between safety and business continuity or the one between the need for a collective action and the one of isolating for protection. Cardinal Zuppi in the celebration Mass for our anniversary invited us, as scholars and scientists, to learn how to reconcile business and love, personal success, and solidarity. We cannot be successful alone! We cannot be happy when we are the only ones to thrive and around us there is suffering and desperation. We must cultivate solidarity and altruism.
This is the deepest wish I have for you this year. That you learn from today to become a group of different individuals who can learn how to grow as a cohesive class. I’d like to remember the words of Pope Francis who spoke to all human beings of all religions addressing this message. “No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together”. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth, which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all”
I move now from the words by Pope Francis to Eric Schmidt who came here in September to receive the honorary degree and addressed a talk to our community indicating the key of success in his life: the constant belief in high-end projects and goals and the capacity to be surrounded by challenging people, people who can contradict you, disagree with you and present their ideas with confidence (that has been the main theme of last year).
He also recommended us to make brave decisions and seek to work with crazy but smart people (i.e., Elon Musk) from whom you can learn a lot and grow, and he expressed incredible words on the capacity of this city and the School to become a new hub for Entrepreneurship and experimentation.
These are the best wishes I have for you for this year.
Welcome again and I wish you good luck with the journey you are beginning today.