- Year of graduation – 2018
- Nationality – Italian
- Pre-MBA – Managing Director, Campari Group (UK and Nordics)
- Post-MBA – Commercial Director, Illycaffè
- Current position – CEO, Zonin1821
- Transition – Function
Why did you decide to study for a MEMBA at Bayes, and what were your aspirations before you began the programme?
Having spent almost 20 years in the corporate world, I wanted to refresh my academic knowledge and prepare myself for the next 20 years. I wanted to become a CEO, a role of great responsibility that requires technical and managerial competencies. The MEMBA was a vital part of this career-development plan. It also offered the best way to combine work and study. I was looking for a business school that could connect academic learning with the realities of business. Bayes offered all this.
How did you find balancing full-time work and studying?
It was an intense period, but I managed by adopting a strict timetable to study 22-27 hours a week. I used to wake up at 5am, to study for at least three hours each day, as well as five hours a day at weekends. I must thank my very patient wife and two children, who supported me from day one.
Tell us about your current role as CEO at Zonin1821.
We have a long heritage of producing and distributing our own wines, and selling those of other Italian family estates, along with wines from the US and Chile. We’re based in Italy, but have subsidiaries in the US, UK, China and Sweden, and do business in over 140 countries. As CEO, I'm responsible for providing strategic, financial and operational leadership. I define, implement and monitor the company’s plans and programmes on a global level.
How did your Modular Executive MBA help you progress from Commercial Director at Illycaffè to CEO of Zonin1821?
The programme added credibility to my CV, enabling me to pitch for my jobs at Illycaffè and Zonin1821. It has also helped me develop a stronger set of competencies, essential for overcoming the business challenges I face. In particular, I’ve developed my analytical abilities, and improved my lateral thinking, along with other transferable skills.
How have you used the skills and knowledge gained from your MEMBA in your current role?
In various ways. Overall, the programme taught me the theory of effective management practice, and equipped me with essential skills and competencies to succeed and progress in a rapidly changing business environment. It’s been particularly useful in the strategic and financial parts of my role – for example, analysing financial trends and budgets, and providing leadership on major decisions such as acquisitions or partnerships.
What careers development support did you receive?
The Careers and Professional Development Teamwere terrific. They helped me prepare for the interviews and tests involved in the head-hunting process. I will always be grateful for this support. Their workshops were excellent, too. The CVs workshop was probably the most useful, but each one has a specific role, and they all make a huge difference when applying for jobs.
What challenges are you currently facing in your industry, and what future developments do you foresee?
All wine companies have to deal with environmental, human and economic challenges. Keeping up with technology is also vital: wine-estate management must modernise now to ensure the industry’s future. Also, brand loyalty is declining – more than ever, we need to be aware of the experience we provide for our customers, or we’ll lose our position in the market. With previously healthy profit margins being squeezed, we need to avoid price competition by treating different customers differently.
What were the highlights of studying at Bayes?
Overall, I had a terrific experience, with strong support from the teaching team. In particular, I was extremely satisfied with the Strategy, Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Finance modules.
What advice would you give to prospective MEMBA candidates?
I’d say, make the most of the programme to reinforce both your academic knowledge and practical business competencies. It’s a great way to do that. And be prepared to study for at least 25 hours a week – if you do that, you’ll find it an extremely rewarding experience.