Tag Archives: SDA Bocconi

Cin Cin To 2013: Looking Back On My Time In Business School

Happy New Year everyone! I hope last year was a time you will look back on fondly, and that you are bursting with excitement and optimism for what 2014 holds.

I must say 2013 was a good year, and not just travel-wise. Not only did I accomplish one of my academic and professional goals of getting my MBA but I also realized my dream of living in another country. And one so culturally rich as Italy at that! When reading back on some old posts, I came across a quote I found last January by IESE professor Pankaj Ghemawat:

“Research shows that living abroad expands your mental horizons and increases your creativity. However, merely traveling abroad doesn’t produce this benefit. Executives report that it takes at least three months to become immersed in a place and appreciate how the culture, politics and history of a region affect business there.”

– Excerpt from “Smarter Managers for a Semi-Globalized India” in The Smart Manager Magazine 

I feel fortunate to have spent the last year and a half in Europe where I learned so much that extended past the classroom. Indeed it was a very challenging year both academically and personally, but it’s those difficulties that build character, broaden mindsets and ultimately humble us. And because SDA Bocconi has such an international class we all gained insight into each other’s cultures as well. One day I was learning how to say “good morning” in Greek and the next how to write my name in Japanese. Then my German classmate was giving me professional advice for any resumes I may send to Berlin (include a photo!), while another classmate and I were noting the cultural differences between Venezuela and India when it comes to introducing a date to your family. Together we learned from each other while still being able to laugh at our own stereotypes. As Ghemawat said, it is this kind of invaluable learning that facilitates cross-cultural understanding, promotes international business, and makes us more open-minded and well-rounded individuals.

Thanks to my classmates and the school for making this past year at Bocconi so memorable!




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B-School in a Nutshell

“If you have a week where you don’t have more work than you can possibly do, then you need to complain to the director.”
– Professor Grant

Looks like we’re right on track then! Out of commission this week due to finals – be back next week to write about my upcoming, well-deserved trip to London.


Nerdy humor from some classmates, since a sense of humor is a must in grad school…

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Too Good Not To Post

Screenshot of a picture I had posted on Facebook when I was failing miserably at using my classmate’s Turkish keyboard. Because our classes are all held in English, I often forget how many MBA38’s don’t have English as their first language. The comments that some of my classmates left is a classic example of just how diverse our class really is (make sure to click the photo to enlarge it.) Love!


Earlier convo during Italian class:

Italian teacher: ::to the class:: Come sei abbronzato! In English, do you say ‘How tan you are, or how tanned you are?”

Jonathan (from Canada): It’s ‘How tanned.’

Me: No, it’s ‘How tan, like You look tan,’ right?

Jonathan: Maybe it’s a Canada/America thing.

Me: ::turns to Milena:: What do you say – tan or tanned??

Milena (from Panama): You mean in SPANISH!?


Ps – Still waiting to hear if I’ve been saying tan/tanned wrong this whole time!

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So there I was, enjoying a cappuccino from my fancy new espresso machine and looking over school emails. I had taken a kickboxing class the previous evening and also gotten a decent night’s sleep, two things which are hard to come by in my program. Then I was off to the police station to pick up my Permesso di Soggiorno (residence permit) before heading to school for Italian class. Everything was going smoothly – this was the last of the paperwork I needed done for the time being – and then… wait, why am I locked out of the police station? But its 4:24pm, the exact time of my appointment! The guy on the other end of the intercom casually tells me to come back on Friday. Uhh, but my appointment’s today, and I had to blow off a group meeting for this, not to mention I don’t even know if I can come back on Friday, and doesn’t anything ever go according to schedule here?!

Within 30 seconds, I had gone from calm & collected grad student to just plain crazy American girl, stomping down the street and talking to myself with exaggerated hand motions. And then I took out my frustration on the first person I came in contact with, which just happened to be my friend and classmate (Mo, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry!) The truth is that this is just one in a long list of things that have not gone according to plan since I moved here… let’s just say that Italy isn’t exactly known for its stellar customer service. It took me about an hour, and too many biscotti, to calm down and realize I was letting this get to me more than I should. And it reminded me of a piece of advice that my admissions rep, Tyler Henderson, told me when I first let him know about my acceptance:

” My suggestion is just to embrace the chaos that will ensue as you handle all the logistical details. If you let it overwhelm you it will, so just enjoy it!”

Woops, maybe I need to stick a post-it of this on my bathroom mirror. Last year, I remember having a discussion with my cousin when I was visiting him in Chennai about how chaotic life in India seems: people crammed into buses, crossing the street in a way that makes New York jay-walking seem like child’s play, hundreds of people out in the street. It can be overwhelming to someone who is not used to that environment, but amidst all the madness it still keeps going. And even though Italy is worlds apart from India, its way of operating is still very different from what I’m used to. But that’s just one other thing I will be learning this year, and didn’t I want to do this program to learn about another culture and work environment anyway?

In any case, they may not have the best customer service, but Italy sure knows their coffee! 1-1.

Today’s tip: First lesson of becoming Italian – learn to shrug it off!

September 2011:

Me: Uh, I just flew in and there’s no trains going to Milano because of a train strike, so I’m stranded in Bergamo. $@%#!

Alessandro: Welcome to Italy!

Me: …

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Benvenuto! MBA Welcome Week at SDA Bocconi

Last Monday, after an all day affair of precourse exams,  90 bright-eyed MBA students flooded Bocconi’s main campus to kickstart Welcome Week with our opening ceremony. After a short but succinct presentation with various speakers including our Dean and Director, we mingled with faculty and staff over dinner. It was a great opportunity to chat with professors, alumni and our career services staff in a more personal way. It also got us excited for what was in store for the rest of Welcome Week. As our Director Gianmario Verona explained, each of the upcoming days would be devoted to a different focus: Know Your School, Know Yourself and Your Class, Know Your Career, and lastly Know Your MBA.

The week was filled with a lot of information about the breakdown of the program, and getting to know the ever-so-important Career Services and how we can best work with them in the search for our dream jobs. Wednesday was devoted solely to learning about our own personality styles as we studied the results of the Myers-Briggs test which we had taken in the previous week. Although I have taken several personality tests in college, I found this discussion to be very helpful in learning what qualities I possess that I will need to be aware of when working in my class groups this year. Furthermore, it helped me understand the range of diverse personality styles of my peers and how we could best benefit from our differences. While I won’t go into the play-by-play of each day, I will say that I was very impressed by how SDA Bocconi chose to incorporate certain elements of Italian culture into the program. And by this, I mean more than simply enjoying aperitivi together (even though those were great too!) For instance, on the first day about getting to know Bocconi, we had an art curator take us on a tour to talk to us about various contemporary art pieces around campus. Along with the art theme, we also created our own “masterpieces” in groups which surprisingly demonstrated a great deal of creativity and ingenuity from a class which may be stereotyped as being strong in financial/consulting skills but lacking in artistic ability. Also, we had a special guest presentation about Italian culture and business with Beppe Severgnini, a well-known and highly entertaining Italian journalist. The highlight of the week came on Friday when, after a night of reading a case study about the wine industry, we were led in an intriguing case analysis by our director as an intro to the many case studies we will break down during the year. After spending the morning analyzing the wine industry in Europe, we then piled into buses and headed to Franciacorta to visit the Berlucchi winery. Berlucchi is a small but successful family owned business that consists of only about 75 employees and caters mostly to a domestic market. There, one of our marketing professors gave a lecture on the industry before we were given tours of the winery and taught about the wine-making process. It was a fun and engaging day of learning and I’m pretty sure that it can go down as the coolest class field trip I’ve had yet (second has to be learning about life in the 1900’s at the Stagecoach Inn in elementary school.) I think I speak for my classmates when I say that we are all very excited for what we’re going to learn at SDA Bocconi and by living in Italy, and for how we are going to better ourselves professionally and personally this year.

Artwork at Bocconi University

Berlucchi Winery

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Rolex MBA’s Conference & Regatta

This past weekend some of us had the chance to check out one of SDA Bocconi’s most prestigious events: the Rolex MBA’s Conference & Regatta. 4 days, 44 boats, and 21 business schools from all over the world. On Thursday, about 400 people came together to race, relax and network in beautiful Santa Margherita. SDA Bocconi is proud to team up with Rolex each year to co-sponsor this €1M event, and even though us incoming students were just guests (the current year’s graduating class hosts the event) I can say that we all felt very proud to be representing the school together. Outside of the regatta the weekend was filled with amazing events from a cocktail party in beautiful Villa Durazzo to a conference and gala dinner at La Cervara, a gorgeous monastery. Santa Margherita is also a short drive from Portofino, a picturesque little town where you can park your boat and take part in some shopping at the many designer stores that line the streets or just take a seat at one of the cafes and enjoy the spectacular view. One on particularly clear afternoon, all of the schools took their boats out to a beach area where we jumped in the water and boat hopped to our heart’s content. I think if I had to sum it up in one word it would just be “surreal.”

Past and present SDA Bocconi MBA's. Photo taken by JC

There were about 20 of us from my class that went and all together we took up 3 boats (thanks to MBA 37 for finding boats for all of us!) It was my first time spending a whole weekend with my peers, let alone on a boat, and with business school being so team oriented it was very cool to see us getting along and working together so well. I think our group was the only “new kids” so in addition to getting to know my peers better it was fun to chat with alumni from other schools and get insights other current students who are in their second year of their program. Those of us that went feel very fortunate to have been a part of this weekend and now we can’t wait to help host next year’s regatta with the rest of our class. See you next year!

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Mastering Milano

It’s day 3 of my whirlwind adventure in Milano and I am just starting to fully realize the amazing, exciting and slightly chaotic journey that is ahead of me.

To those of you that don’t know the whole story, this past spring I was accepted into the full-time MBA program at SDA Bocconi. After a few years of looking into programs all over the world and narrowing down the list of what is the best choice for me, I was pleasantly surprised when my interests aligned so well with what Bocconi has to offer. When I first tell people about my school choice, I’m usually faced with the same reaction:

“Europe? What made you want to study there?”

It’s true, coming from the US where there are so many reputable b-schools around, it may seem a little abnormal to purposefully choose to apply elsewhere. However, for me an international experience was key in what I wanted out of my MBA experience; what better way to get that than to put myself out of my comfort zone and get my master’s while simultaneously exposing myself to a whole new culture. Furthermore, the extremely international student body was a huge draw to me. I don’t know if the statistics are out yet for my current class, but there are 34 nationalities represented in the 2012 MBA class. I am only now starting to meet my classmates in person, but from being a part of our Facebook group these past few months I have gotten to “know” them and already feel that I am learning so much just from hearing about their experiences in their own countries. Like how Dina from Cairo told us about the violence that happened in Nile City at the beginning of the month that broke out right in front of her office building. Or of how Dmitriy from Russia had a ticket to Milano until Windjet went bankrupt and put a damper on his travel plans. Aydin from Turkey even just told me today about how the company he worked for is working on getting a new taxi design for New York cabs! Classes haven’t even started and yet I’m already learning more than I would get out of just reading the morning paper.

As I sat and enjoyed aperitivo with some other classmates today while watching a rerun of last week’s Barcelona/Real Madrid game, a huge smile crept on my face in anticipation of what’s to come. I think Italy and I will get along just fine this year.

Representing us crazy Americans.

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Let’s Take The Scenic Route Turns 1!

Wow. Has it already been one year?

A year ago I wrote my first post for Let’s Take the Scenic Route. Back then, I wasn’t looking farther than the four month journey ahead and my blog was not much more than a way for my friends and family to keep tabs on me while I was galavanting around the world. I am grateful to have people in my life that encouraged me to continue with my blog and use it as not only a creative outlet but also a platform for some of my other interests. I do apologize for my lack of posts throughout the last two months (yes, my 3 loyal readers, I have received your complaints), but in all fairness I have a pretty sweet excuse for my online silence.

I haven’t officially posted this yet but I am so extremely stoked to write that in a few weeks I’ll be moving to Milan to get my MBA at one of Europe’s top b-schools, SDA Bocconi. These last 3 months have been a whirlwind of emotions from the round of victory shots when I first got word of my acceptance, to the tears of joy when I finally received my Italian visa after a lengthy and slightly-traumatizing experience, to the pouty face I made when I had to say goodbye to some of my dearest friends in New York. Leaving NYC was surprisingly harder than I thought it would be (after all, it was just a year ago that I was dying to get out) but the six years there didn’t leave me too much worse for wear and I wouldn’t be surprised if I came back sooner than expected anyway.

But today we look ahead! And to come full circle, I am also looking forward to seeing how my blog evolves in the next year as I start this new chapter in my life and throw down some semi-perma roots in Milano. Yes, there will be more food posts and possibly a few meltdown rants during my economics semester, but I’m mostly excited about what I’ll take away from being a part of a highly international class with so many different cultural backgrounds. Oh, and don’t worry, there is still plenty more traveling to be done.


I am so blessed by all that I have experienced this past year. To those in my life reading this, thanks for (willingly) joining me on the ride.

Looks like its time for a change of scenery yet again.

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