Federico Di Benedetto

Professional Background

I was born and grew up in Rome. I started my career at Accenture in Italy and worked there for three and a half years for the management consulting branch of the company doing cross industry work. I had the chance to work for a lot of different industries such as energy and utilities, FMCG, automotive and online gambling.

After Accenture I moved to London in February 2015, where I joined a company called Pentland Brands that operate in the sportswear fashion industry. The company own and manage approximately 15 brands, and I worked there for two years across two different teams. It was a great experience because it’s not a huge company, so I was able to work very closely with the executive team and strategy director. It was a great learning curve for me.

Why an MBA

The first reason I chose to study a Full-Time MBA at Imperial College Business School is that in my pre-MBA role, working first as a consultant and then in the FP&A and Strategy team, I always got quite a broad picture of how the company works. However, it’s very difficult to gain deep insight on how each function works and operate in conjunction with the rest of the business. Companies are like a complex machine, I was very keen to understand all the important and key variables that play a role at a functional level.  The second reason is that an MBA can deliver short term intensive career progression. Before I started my MBA I did a lot of research about return on investment and career progression that people can achieve with an MBA, and now I can see the benefit of that from a career perspective. But ultimately, it’s an element of personal attitude. I describe myself as having an ‘always learning’ attitude, so during the MBA programme I really enjoyed the possibility to learn more every day.

Choosing Imperial College Business School

I used three main variables when I decided to apply for Imperial, the first one was the length of the programme. For me the one-year programme was the best because I was keener to speed up from a career progression point of view to keep up with changes in the industry. The second reason the programme was the best fit was the location. I moved to London in 2015 and I think this city can provide so many opportunities from a work point of view. Lastly was to ensure I was choosing from the top programmes in the world, so the result of these three variables was Imperial College Business School.

Favourite classes and experiences

Investment and Risk Management was my favourite module, it gave me all the planning and financial skills I need for my work and and it was so easy to learn because the professor was amazing. My other favourite was the Pricing Strategy elective. When I chose this elective, I thought the scope of the module was quite limited, however the programme provided me with a holistic point of view on how to approach pricing. The perfect balance between cases studies, qualitative and quantitative skills you develop is definitely another good reason to select this programme.

Imperial Innovation Challenge

The Imperial Innovation Challenge was completely different to our modules on the programme. We spent one week working on a business model canvas on innovation. It was very important to me because before we did the innovation week I had always correlated innovation mainly with new products, so I had thought that the most innovative company is the one that launches the most innovative product. Whilst that is also somewhat true, innovation can come from a lot of other different environments. During this week we worked on how to change-up this innovation environment. This has been precious learning for me and something that I hope I can apply in the short term.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset

When I applied to Imperial I was conscious of the entrepreneurship focus of the programme, and it turned out to be one of the best parts of the MBA for me. To work and spend one year of my life with a cohort who was very focused on entrepreneurship, and who want to work in that kind of environment, gave me so much energy. I was able to develop a lot from an entrepreneurship point of view. When I tried to create a business five years ago, I did not succeed. After that I did not have the opportunity to come back to the entrepreneurship environment, I have always worked in big corporates. The MBA programme enriched me in entrepreneurship and I feel like I have all the key skills to deliver what I want in the future.

Discovering my strengths and weaknesses

In the first couple of months on the MBA programme, we did a few psychological tests in order to asses ourselves to give us an idea about who we are. During the first couple of months I fully understood my limits and that has been really important to me. If you understand what your weaknesses and your strengths are then you can focus most of your effort on your strengths and become great on a couple of things, but also make sure you can leverage the skill set of your peers in the best possible way. When you work closely with a lot of brilliant students, then you can understand that there are some skills that you potentially don’t have. It’s just a better understanding of who you are and what you can achieve.

Rewards and challenges

It’s difficult to say what the most rewarding part of the MBA is. I think at some stage on the programme you feel that you start to connect the dots of everything that you have done before the MBA and all the things that you are learning and experiences you are having on the programme. It’s at this point you can really have a much clearer view of what you can achieve. I come back to one of the things that they always ask you on the programme: what do you want to achieve with an MBA? When you start an MBA it’s important that you have an idea about what you want to achieve, but it is also true that it is very difficult to understand what you can achieve without knowing what the opportunities are in the outside world that you can reach. For me I think it was six or seven months into the MBA that I was in the position to really connect the dots by saying, “OK this who I am and this is what I can do”.

I think the biggest challenge is deciding what you want to achieve with your MBA and balancing your time. I just decided to create a good mix of academic and non-academic things throughout the day to maintain a balance. For example, some days I was more keen to catch up with a company and speak with people for contacts in the evening, and then read a couple of pages from the book later so I think it is very important to prioritise during the MBA programme.

Achieving my career goals

Before starting the MBA programme I was quite keen to make some career progression in my field and I was also very interested in starting a new business for myself. What is great about an Imperial MBA is that you have the opportunity on a weekly basis to meet with a Career Consultant, which was very important to me. My Consultant was amazing and we would talk a lot about my purpose of doing an MBA and what I was trying to achieve. After about five or six months on the programme I was very clear about what my final goal was – to me my final goal means what I want to achieve in 20 years’ time – and therefore what was the right thing to do to achieve this goal from a corporate point of view.

Thanks to meeting with my Career Consultant and the possibility to learn and interact with so many people and companies, I understood that FMCG was the right sector for me. My Consultant gave me a lot of support and the ability to understand what my goals were. Last but not least, being an MBA student gave me the possibility to interview CEOs of big multinational companies and founders of some of the greatest startups on my Personal Leadership Journey careers module. This has been such a powerful experience to me, speaking with successful entrepreneurs and great CEOs, I was able to interview some huge companies in my field like Proctor and Gamble.

Next steps

The Imperial MBA is not just about learning, it is a very holistic programme with a great path to gain both soft and hard skills. I feel that it has been a great step for me and an integral part on my career journey. Everyone should think of the MBA as the start of a journey because it is just a step, you have to think about what you have done before and what you want to do after. I started my new job just before the end of the programme at a great company called Reckitt Benckiser (RB). It’s a consumer healthcare powerhouse, so I have already achieved my short term career goal from the MBA. I am very pleased with my new job, it’s a great company that play in a fascinating industry and it’s a great opportunity.

Advice for prospective students

If you are already thinking about an Imperial MBA, just apply. In considering an MBA you need to understand what is important for your life, not just what you want to achieve after or before. It’s definitely an investment to consider in terms of time and money, but the return on investment is great and in a couple of years you can see the benefit of the investment developing. I think it is just something people need to feel inside, like an energy. If it is something that you are very passionate about and you are looking forward to, just go for it. For me it was my logical next step, I was really sure about doing an MBA and I really loved my time at Imperial College Business School.

Nationality: Italian

Education: Bachelor in Economics, Markets and Financial Intermediaries, Economics, LUISS Business School. MS in Economics and Management of International Institution and Public Administration, Economics, Bocconi University

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Strategy and Planning at Pentland Brands

Connect via LinkedIn