During winter quarter, Cal Poly MBA student David Madanat had the chance to study in Milano, Italy as part of an exchange program the Orfalea College of Business has established at the Politecnico di Milano. The partnership has afforded the two universities the chance for students to study abroad and faculty to collaborate across continents. Hear about David’s experience in his own words:
I had a great time in Milan this winter. I went as part of Cal Poly’s exchange with the Politecnico di Milano in Milano, Lombardia. I studied at MiP Graduate School of Business, which is one of the top 100 business schools in Europe. I made lots of friends, the food was super tasty, and there were people there from all over the world. I met students from Italy, India, France, Australia, Russia, Brazil, China and Argentina! I took four classes across a range of interesting business topics, and everything I learned can be applied directly to industry. All of the teachers were first rate.
Design Management was with Professor Roberto Verganti, a thought leader in design-driven innovation. One of the cool things about this class was that one of Verganti’s articles was featured in the January-February 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review. This class was tons of fun. My group did mystery shopping at a pastry shop owned by Prada in order to put together a proposal on how the customer experience could be redesigned and innovated to offer more value. Our presentation was wonderfully received!
Next up was finance with Professor Marco Giorgino. This guy is a whiz. When he’s not teaching he’s chairman of a private equity group — I learned so much about private equity in this class! I also learned how to value companies, about project financing, the benefits of capital structures, and the nuances of book-building for an initial public offering (IPO). Not only that, but Professor Giorgino is great at keeping the audience’s attention. No dry lectures here. I asked plenty of questions and had a great time sharing my story with the class about the MINDBODY IPO I experienced from within the company last year.
Entrepreneurship was another class with a heavy emphasis on group work. Taught by Professor Evila Piva, I learned all about lean startup techniques, bootstrapping, how to evaluate new business ventures, how to work with the business model canvas to have enough to present to investors, and lots more about private equity (this time focused on venture capitalists and business angels.) I worked in a group to put together a proposed startup plan for a venture seed from one of the group members and now have the tools to create and test business value hypotheses on my own.
In Advanced Marketing we worked as a group on a project for a high-tech manufacturing firm in Milan, to create a proposal for a social media marketing strategy. Our presentation was selected as the most interesting by the class. We also got a strong overview of how to plan and manage the sales strategy for a firm, including conducting research on the individual decision-makers involved, and how to present facts and numbers in a compelling story. The most rewarding for me was learning about how to do a strategic evaluation of existing competitors on multiple marketing channels.
Milan wasn’t all about academics. During the two weeks I wasn’t taking classes, I visited the Duomo, shopped in the fashion district, ate some of the best pasta, pizza, and gelato known to man, and visited with newly made friends! Two of the friends I made in class invited me to their homes. One hosted me on a personal tour of Verona while I was there (easily accessible from Milan by train). The other took me into his apartment and cooked dinner for his wife and me. I’ll remember the experiences I had and cherish the friends I made my whole life.
There is really nothing like living abroad to broaden your cultural knowledge and show you how things are done in other parts of the world. As they say in Italy, arrivederci!