BBS alumni talk about themselves: what was before, what came after and the memories of life as a student, to offer a personal story and a narration of one’s own professional experience, for a history of our Community. The protagonist of the XVI episode is Giulia Allegranza, deputy general manager at MDM GROUP holding, EMBA X.
Giulia’s soundtrack is: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye.
Bridging the gaps, finding a trait d’union to put together, and then in order, pieces of knowledge. Giulia is an active person, concrete, she’s able to keep her private life within a safe fence. “I’m not dependent on work. Keeping situations separate allows you to give your best in every circumstance”. Giulia is an electronic engineer. And she’s aware that engineers, if you know them, must be kept on a short leash, so that they won’t go adrift amidst technological passions, always with their job on their mind. Giulia is methodical, and she’s found in negotiation the secret of balance. Always, everywhere.
The story so far
Attending a classical lyceum in the most exclusive private school in Bologna actually granted Giulia the capacity to understand what is really necessary. “I’m a frugal person. Luxury is something you can give yourself from time to time, mostly to satisfy little feminine vanities, certainly not in order to achieve a certain status”. Giulia defines herself as water, sun and salt. Her love for the sea, apparent in the few photos published on the social media, conveys the idea of a character that developed around what’s essential. Her degree in a very masculine field, a Master’s at the Politecnico in Milan and a job in building sites, safety helmet on her head, coordinating the work of the labourers. “Being a woman in these circumstances has an advantage: they look at you with curiosity, and this increases the attention when you speak”. Giulia is able to identify the positive sides in the difficulties, and transform them into opportunities.
Before I die I want to survive the EMBA
How do you ask your boss for something? Giulia, decided as usual, said “we need to talk” (silence in the room). “I want to attend an EMBA”. Her boss stared at her in the eyes, and floored her “I want to do it as well”. Change of scene. A sunny day at Villa Guastavillani, Bologna, a group of students and a board. “Before I die…” and ellipsis. The BBS Master’s students had to finish the sentence. Answers varied from an impossible desire to a philosophical consideration. Giulia wrote “I want to survive the EMBA”. Here and now, the concreteness of Giulia, the solid engineer. “The international week, the time during your course at BBS when you mix up with studies from all over the world, was a watershed. After demanding, intensive months, you’re faced with new questions, formulated in a foreign language, new ways of dealing with the problems. A context in which you’re nowhere near your comfort zone”. A recurring definition in Giulia’s words, words made up of contrasts. Work-personal life, public-reserved, fear-comfort zone. “Every morning you need to look at yourself in the mirror, put you rucksack full of fears on your back and get on with the day”. Because according to Giulia fear not only is natural, it is a quality indeed. It serves the purpose of defining the boundaries between what is legitimate and what’s best avoided. A natural emotion that alarms you in order to help you. A warning to be recognised and listen to, to improve oneself.
“There are those who are after an upgrade in their profession, those who wish to change their track completely. I needed a tool that allowed me to provide a synthesis, to have a framework within which to take a decision.” Let’s go back to Giulia’s boss office, where, sitting facing each other, they both decided to attend the EMBA. The negotiator in her emerged here. “My proposal was to have my company pay for the EMBA. In exchange, I’d give up all the compensations outside my salary for that year”. Giulia can do her maths well. “You need to be able to work well with figures, something else though is using them to create efficiency”. What tipped the balance was also BBS business network, the number of companies involved that make up an important net of experiences and contacts. The course of study is hard, besides the friendly relationship that develops with the faculty members as well, says Giulia. You presume you have absolute qualities, the result of years of professional experience. “In the classroom though you challenge yourself once again, the others are your mirror and you must accept their feedback. The exchange with the others is already a step further”.
A piece of advice to a student
“You are what you think you are. You experience fears with more awareness”. And then again, about her experience at BBS “When you’re in the classroom, be active. If you need to go to bed late because you have to study, do it. If you can’t understand, ask, no need to be shy or inhibited. Studying doesn’t end here but on the job, where you’ll eventually implement what you’ve learnt.” Risks must be taken, motivated by the curiosity to see the result. A freedom that shall have to be granted by the company, of course, but it must stem from a mature accountability and a good dose of courage. Giulia explains the transformation after the Master’s at BBS. “After the EMBA you’ll have to be confronted with the real capacity of your company to re-absorb your professionalism, that has been widened in its knowledge base. It may be that the company is ready, it may be that your new identity is questioned.” Because the experience at BBS, Giulia explains, is a two-way change process. The risk is you’ll no longer share the same language. The risk is to bring in many novelties that might be scary. That’s the moment of krisis, of separation, in an etymological sense. Of wheat, straw and chaff. And so, if you must change your path do it, change it. After all, as Marvin Gaye sings, ain’t no mountain high enough for your objectives. In your work, in life and, as Giulia points out, in love (in a broad sense) as well.
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