Milly Barba chose to attend the Executive Master in Sales and Marketing at BBS to turn her career around, trying to change and grow during a difficult time when the pandemic outbreak. Her courage and resourcefulness were rewarded: today, she has the role she wanted, working for a company she got to know during her Master’s. But this is only the professional side of a rich and intense journey, which she tells us about in this interview.
How important is an overview between the sales and marketing areas for professional growth?
Undoubtedly, the strategic overview and thus the close collaboration between the sales and marketing areas is fundamental to developing any business growth or promotion plan. In particular, marketing can support sales in generating leads, thus identifying new prospects and creating new business opportunities. So it is a synergetic work, so much so that we could almost consider these two sectors two sides of the same coin. From my point of view, these are two inseparable areas that ideally should always work together in any company, but we know that in reality, this is often not the case, we still act in an uncoordinated manner, so it is essential to have a strategic overview.
International networks and sales channels are a valuable dimension to bring the added value of internationalization into the company. How do you imagine putting into practice what you have learned in this respect in your industry or profession?
The Master’s experience was also fundamental because it gave a perspective on marketing and sales that was not hyperlocal. People often fear that their vision is limited when attending a course of study. Bologna Business School is ahead because an international outlook marks everything. As far as global sales networks and channels are concerned, I can say that my approach is strongly digital. The sales network looks abroad probably in market analysis before approaching any business. So a precise assessment of the market, even concerning trends or cultural parameters- which we came during the Master’s course and which we know are fundamental – helps you consider subsequent marketing actions. There is, in short, a crucial assessment phase before starting with any project, and in this sense, it is certainly helpful to use the tools and the international approach learned during the Master.
Which is, in your opinion, the added value of a diverse faculty of academics and professionals?
A substantial added value has undoubtedly been the perfect balance between the theoretical and academic aspect, which is very vertical, and the practical aspect, the reverberation of which we have been able to see in each of the topics addressed thanks to the presence of professionals who are also able to share more operational knowledge. I can say, in this sense, that I was able to experience growth in parallel, both in terms of practical skills and theoretical knowledge on various subjects, such as sales, marketing, and key account management. I will dwell, in particular, on the latter because it was the one furthest away from me, and it was exciting to bridge this gap both from a theoretical-academic and practical, concrete point of view.
The company visits and Leader’s Corners are among the pluses of this master’s course because they allow a confrontation with company realities and with high-profile managers and professionals. How did you experience them, and what insights did they bring you?
It is often complicated from the outside to understand the various corporate realities. Having the opportunity to approach professionals and managers with essential roles within heterogeneous contexts and business sectors directly and immediately was a valuable element. It allowed us to get to know sectors even very distant from our own and to confront ourselves with authoritative points of view, acquiring new perspectives. They were also helpful moments of exchange concerning our future: we received valuable advice and tips that immediately became useful in our everyday work.
Networking and confrontation arise from the ability to create a heterogeneous classroom composition where people with different backgrounds meet. Do you think you have found this dimension in your BBS journey?
During the Master’s course, I became captain of a group of hotheads, as they call themselves! And they still call me that, we talk often, and I am still ‘captain’. I think that’s enough to answer the question: yes, I found this dimension, which greatly enriched me. On the first day, when we were divided into working groups, I also wondered if it was a random act or if there was some criterion unknown to me since we were indeed a very diverse group in terms of aptitude, personality, and skills. But this proved to be the case during the Master’s course. When it came to group work, we realized that everyone made their particular contribution and that we could fill all the group’s needs together. Giving a contribution is a bit of a quid pro quo practice, in the sense that when you give something in group work, it always comes back to you with someone else’s knowledge. Just by sharing logical thinking and accepting feedback from mindsets other than your own, you can change or increase your position on a concept. And that is how you get to do knowledge sharing. This was a substantial value, and the networking element developed from this. I had the opportunity to meet many good people with whom you want to create a relationship outside of work, outside of school. I appreciated so many people in our class who, with their contribution and observations during the year, gave me not little food for thought, which I still carry with me.
How did your career change, if at all, after the Master’s degree?
I chose to attend the Master’s program at BBS for two reasons: the first was growth in professional terms, and the second was related to the possibility of multiplying opportunities concerning a professional change. The idea of changing during the pandemic might have seemed a bit far-fetched, but I had many interviews and collected several exciting offers. The company I finally chose to work for, however, was one in particular: the one for which we did a case study during the Master’s course. Today I work as Senior Digital Project Manager Marketing at Franke Group, a company that I knew as a client but only started considering for my future during my Master’s degree. At that time, they were looking for a figure that perfectly matched mine: a hybrid between communication, digital marketing, and team management, with a focus on e-commerce. The path to being chosen was long and challenging, but I can say that if BBS had not created a connection with this company, it had not brought a case study to the attention of all of us, it would not have even occurred to me to apply for that position. So BBS created an opportunity I took, allowing me to change my life in the direction I wanted. I think this has happened to many of us, and I believe that the Master’s program has been a trump card; I know this for sure, as I was told several times during the selection process. I can also say with certainty that many of my colleagues have gone down the same route: some have changed positions or improved their role in the same company, others have changed companies, and others have changed their sector or have chosen to become consultants. In short, there were many changes, so I think I can say that, for many participants, the Master in Sales and Marketing at Bologna Business School represented a turning point in professional and career terms.