Professor Marcello Russo’s welcome greeting to Global MBA 2022-23 participants.
Dear Global MBA students,
Welcome to Bologna Business School. Welcome to Alma Mater Studiorum. From today, you are part of a growing and very ambitious business school strongly rooted in Italian history and excellence. In 21 years, BBS has achieved important goals, and now it is a key player in the international panorama. Among the several achievements, it is worth mentioning the recent EQUIS Accreditation and the partnership with iconic companies in our country and the entire world, like Ferrari, for whom we have been developing for three years, two Corporate MBAs reserved for their top talents.
I am at the fourth inaugural speech, and I have the same energy and emotion (some more grey hair, for sure!) as on the first day in 2019, when as a young Associate Professor, I met, precisely like you today, 50 students from five continents, full of hopes and willing to write with us an important, hopefully, life-changing chapter of their lives. We celebrated the Graduation Masterclass 2022 on September 9th and the Reunion with an exciting party we had missed in the last three years due to the pandemic. It was a great emotion to meet all the students on their diploma day and notice their pride and happiness. Even more exciting, it was for me to meet their relatives who landed in Bologna from different parts of the world. You could see the emotion in their eyes and the joy of celebrating such a meaningful achievement. Yes, obtaining an MBA is a big achievement that is still highly rewarding and important in the job market, as you probably know, being here today.
What does it mean to be a student at the University of Bologna, at BBS?
First, joining a community of thousands of reputed scholars, such as Carducci, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Laura Bassi, who was the first woman in the world to be assigned a university course in experimental physics in the XVIII century, or more recent ones like Umberto Eco and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Second, it means belonging to a university that is classified among the top in national and international rankings, firmly focused on social innovation and sustainability, and that has a unique and less known characteristic than being among the oldest in the world, i.e., the fact that the students created the University of Bologna, and for the students – an ancient form of open source platform for the time, and students managed it for several centuries of our history. What a great example of innovation!
But what does it mean to become a GMBA student?
Well, getting an MBA increases employability and the possibility to make an upgrade in one’s life and enter the dream profession and/or industry. Still, it also enhances one’s responsibilities and others’ expectations. Benedetto Vigna, the Chairman of Ferrari, is used to saying that he can immediately recognize Ferrari’s employees who have attended the MBA at BBS from those who have not. It is not because they are tired, but because they are curious, open-minded, and ready to contribute to other areas of the business and not just focused on their tasks.
I want to quote a famous citation by professor Clay Christensen (the father of the theory of disruptive innovation nominated as one of the most influential business ideas in the 21st century) to make an obvious point regarding your future role after the MBA. He said, “many students believe that a career in business means buying, selling, investing in companies. That is unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards from building up people.”
I am sure, in your future career, you will be pretty busy building up people and having a strong influence on their lives, affecting their career but also their family decisions, and those people who are often mentioned in the literature as invisible stakeholders (invisible to companies but highly salient in our minds every day!).
I read once in a book that nobody wishes to be unhappy and frustrated when returning home after work. Still, very often, things happen at work that makes this a likely scenario for many people worldwide. As the recent post-pandemic phenomenon, the Great Resignation, demonstrates, very often, the reason for this condition is a toxic work environment and primarily a bad relationship with the boss. So, please, consider reflecting on what kind of leader you want to be and rely on science as literature is also very clear in suggesting what makes somebody a good leader: being nice to people, respectful of their nonworking lives, being a coach, do not micromanage people and, above all, take care of their wellbeing. This is especially true for young people who, according to some reports from consulting companies, as illustrated in the slide, tend to look for inspiration and role modeling from business leaders rather than politicians or religious leaders.
What does it mean to graduate in the current economic scenario?
Last year, I started my talk by saying how it was a great moment to be in Italy after the pandemic. I was not aware, like all of us, of the war that is changing the lives of all of us again, with new preoccupations, turbulence, and uncertainty. Uncertainty seems to be the most recurring word of last years, together with resilience and transition, skills and concepts that we hope you can develop here thanks to the courses, the collaboration with your mates, and the meeting with the several managers you will meet all over the year. I want to be transparent and set the right expectations from the very beginning. You will have a very intense year, starting today, with a kick-off week that has never been so rich, focusing on topics (creativity and sustainability) that I hope can characterize your current year at BBS and your future career. This week, you will also have a chance to know more about yourselves and your mates and cultivate confidence and public speaking skills that are fundamental in today’s world.
The kick-off we organized today reflects the pure essence of the program and the school. Interdisciplinary, internationalization, openness to the world, and connection with the world of practice with the presence of incredible and cutting-edge companies, which also participate in our Program Advisory Committee.
To conclude, my deepest wish is that, from today, you will learn how to become a group of individuals who can learn how to grow as a cohesive class, supporting and accepting each other, recognizing each other’s strengths and the different needs and pace of work.
Welcome again, and I wish you good luck with the journey you are beginning today.
Director | Global MBA