Five MBA students just made it clear why Italy is known as il bel paese (the beautiful country). Determined to go beyond the pasta and pizza stereotypes typical to their homeland, the students—Federico Mussini, Alessio Scipione, Tancredi Fichera, Francesco Iannelli and Joonatan Portman—created two events for last week’s Italian Professional and Cultural Week that showcased the best of Italy.
The results were truly unforgettable.
The first evening focused on “Business Leadership in a Time of Disruption” using a TED Talk format. Five experts from Italian businesses came to the HEC Paris campus to share their experiences about everything from opening the first gelato franchise in France (Amorino co-founder Paolo Benassi) to taking advantage of the American automobile-industry crisis (Fiat Chrysler Group’s Jerome Monce).
“Coming from Singapore, I never had much exposure to Italian companies,” says Kuan-Hung Liu, MBA ’18. “Before hearing from these CEOs, I didn’t really have the impression that Italy was at the center stage of Europe in terms of business. It was quite an eye-opening event.”
The next evening provided students a chance to mingle with those same business leaders in the striking environment of the Italian Cultural Institute. Located in the 7th Arrondisement in Paris, the stately 18th century building once served as the Italian embassy, regularly hosting notables such as Napoléon Bonaparte and the legendary French writer Chateaubriand.
During Friday night’s event, our MBA students networked with more than 70 professionals from a variety of Italian businesses and institutions, including Giandomenico Magliano, the Italian Ambassador to France, and representatives from Italian Executives in Paris.
“It was a huge success,” says Melinda Aulie, MBA ’18. “Canapés and Campari aside, I had the chance to hang out with my classmates in an unusually elegant setting, practice a little Italian, and get the inside scoop about a company I was interested in from one of the Italian guests. Hats off to the ragazzi who made it happen!”
As part of Italian Culture Week, several of the country’s most prestigious business leaders came to campus to speak to our students about how to lead in a time of disruption.
Here’s what we learned: