David Bardolet, Dean of SDA Bocconi Asia Center and Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at SDA Bocconi School of Management, Italy’s premier management school, is a man on a mission. In an interview with The Economic Times, Prof. Bardolet shared his aggressive plans for the SDA Bocconi Asia Center in Mumbai which is guided by the vision to create a unique ‘branded educational experience.’
Business education is a crowded space with more entrants every year. Tell us how the SDA Bocconi School of Management is unique.
Indeed, business education is undergoing a profound transformation. In the past, we could focus on offering top-ranked MBA and executive programs to stay atop of our competitors. Don’t get me wrong; we still have those best-in-class standard programs. For instance, our Full-time MBA program at SDA Bocconi is ranked #29th worldwide by Financial Times. But that is not enough anymore. The increasing fragmentation and sophistication of industries have led to a complete re-evaluation of the skills that individuals and companies require in their business education, as well as the ways to acquire those skills. For example, basic functional knowledge in finance, or marketing, or operations can now be learned in a massive online open course (MOOC) at a fraction of the cost.
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Therefore, business schools must now learn to provide much more sophisticated learning paths – we call them “branded educational experiences”- to those individuals and companies. These learning paths must be tailored in both content and delivery. We believe customization is the way forward and what makes us different right now. We are currently ranked 4th Worldwide by Financial Times in Custom Executive Education that demonstrates our ability to take it further and make it our distinctive quality.
We create a close link between our faculty and each particular company that comes to us for a custom program to design training modules that genuinely respond to the strategic needs of the organization. For individuals, customization means providing not only actionable content but also access to high-competence professional networks, coaching, counselling on career development and more, on a one-on-one basis.
SDA Bocconi inaugurated its presence in India in 2012 through MISB Bocconi, catering mostly to the Indian audience. As MISB completes six years, it becomes SDA Bocconi Asia Center, SDA Bocconi’s pan-Asian hub, with a broader scope across India, the Middle East, China and the rest of Asia.
We will focus on bringing SDA Bocconi’s brand of executive education to India and increasingly to the rest of Asia, following the growing business relationships that are forming across the Middle East, India, China and South East Asia. We want to contribute to the fascinating transformation that is happening in the continent. We believe that our natural strengths can be of great use to the people leading that transformation. For example, as the top business school in Italy, we have developed an in-depth knowledge on what it takes for a small or medium-sized family-owned company to successfully grow and expand internationally, often outcompeting much larger corporations. We think this knowledge can be of great use to so many companies and managers in India and the Middle East that are contemplating a future of expansion from a similar starting point. Other areas in which SDA Bocconi distinguishes itself are Finance and Healthcare.
What type of programs will be offered at SDA Bocconi Asia Center?
On the executive front, we have an International Executive Masters in Business (IEMB) for professionals with over eight years of experience and a specialized program in Business Analytics as well as a growing number of custom initiatives that we have developed with various corporate customers like Larsen & Toubro and Future Group. In addition to the strong focus on executive education, the center will continue to grow the Post Graduate Program in Business targeted at freshers and young professionals. It is a full-time program that brings a unique combination of Indian identity and global perspective, thanks to strong industry connections and a truly international faculty. In fact, I am delighted to share that the upcoming 7th edition of PGPB at the Asia Center will be the largest batch so far since the inception of the former MISB.
Interesting. What else happens at SDA Bocconi Asia Center say on a weekly basis?
Our mission is to empower lives with knowledge and imagination, so we take the role of generators and aggregators of knowledge to heart.
If you pass by the school on any given week, you might find an event with corporate experts on a particular topic – much like the one we recently organized with The Economic Times on design thinking.
Then on some days, you might run into a group of international participants from schools like CEIBS, Rotman or ESADE among others that conduct their courses or modules here at the Asia Center, interacting and engaging with our students leading to a robust cross-cultural immersion.
Almost on a daily basis, student clubs invite senior leaders for guest sessions so they can share their insights, industry knowledge, company roles, etc.This kind of meetings also helps our students to identify their career paths.
During the week and sometimes on weekends, the Corporate Development Services team works with our students to build their profile based on their career objectives. They conduct regular mock interviews, case practices, and workshops for students such as Spin selling, Six Sigma, Advanced Excel, digital marketing, etc. to have them better prepared for Live projects, internships or placements.
And then you might also find the faculty engaged in a topical conversation or even a fierce foosball competition with a bunch of students.
Despite all this activity, the majority of time is dedicated to interactive lectures in which our faculty apply SDA Bocconi’s practice-based approach, cross-cultural knowledge exchange and enhancement of soft skills that aim to develop thought leadership across all programs. Also, our research-focused Centers of Excellence in CSR, India business, Insurance and Retail and Luxury allow us to develop cutting-edge knowledge that is very grounded in the Indian context.
In summary, we are very excited to bring SDA Bocconi’s unique approach to business education to the business leaders of today and tomorrow, in India and Asia.
SDA Bocconi Asia Center offers International Master in Business (IMB) a full-time postgraduate program which accepts CAT-17&18, our CAT average has been 90%ile. Know more about the school or speak to a program advisor.
SDA Bocconi Asia Center is the prime sponsor of free CAT preparation on QS LEAP this year.