Programme: Weekend MBA
Undergraduate education: BSc Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology (Erasmus Grant) MSc Aerospace Engineering and PhD in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, University of Naples Federico II
Current position: NPI Component Manager, Rolls-Royce
From a very young age, I’ve always liked aerospace and so I studied my undergraduate in Aerospace Engineering. I was awarded as the best Remote Sensing Thesis work of the year in Italy, also congratulated by the President of Italian Republic. This gave me the chance to do a PhD in aerospace at CIRA (Italian Aerospace Research Centre) and offered a postdoc at JPL NASA.
Shortly after the PhD, I was offered a consultant position at Rolls Royce in Germany. I spent four years there as an aerospace engineer. It was interesting but I always felt I was missing something. I moved to the UK in 2015 where I had a very fast career. After less than one year they offered me the position of Programme Manager which was a complete change. I loved the technical side but the managerial role was the way in which two of my main passions, psychology and engineering, came together supporting each other to make me even more engaged at work. Then I have been promoted twice in the following year to the Component Manager role.
Choosing the Weekend MBA
I choose a Weekend MBA for two reasons. One, because it lets me combine work and study. Secondly, I think it’s overall better; very often when you do a Full-Time MBA in one year your cohort are maybe fresh from university or with not many years of experience. On the Weekend MBA instead, you are surrounded by young and ambitious people, they are working and have already a diversified experience a good-sized network. Therefore I thought it was a great opportunity to naturally increase my own network and meet other talented and successful people seeking to grow and improve themselves with a challenging MBA. It’s an experience that improves your skills and enriches your background as individual and manager thanks to stimulation coming from other people and their experience both in yours and other industries.
I was choosing between three universities. When I was comparing those three MBAs, I wanted something that was geared towards technology and entrepreneurship. Imperial is very well known all over the world for technical excellence – including 15 Nobel prizes. Also, Imperial has what is probably the best business incubator.
The programme material
At the moment we are studying Decision Analytics, Organisational Behaviour, Financial and Management Accounting and Managerial Economics. Accounting is the area that I felt I was missing some skills there. It’s the toughest for me but is also adding something completely new to my skill-set. I enjoy Organisational Behaviour a lot since I’ve always enjoyed psychology. I also see every day at work the real application of what we are learning which is very stimulating.
The induction week was extremely tough for me. I was used to studying, I have also done a PhD, but the level of concentration of lessons, activities and information in the first week was scary. However, then you’ll understand that if you want to condense such a wide course in a Weekend MBA, you’ll need to have a pace of 10 hours a day. It was extremely tough and I was seriously concerned in the beginning! The usual level of commitment is then three days every month, over a weekend, it’s still tough but definitely more manageable.
The London factor
When I went to Germany, I was working in English but life outside of work was obviously not in English. I therefore decided to move to England in 2015 and spend a couple of years to improve my English skills and already planning to do an MBA in London. I live in Derby (where the Rolls-Royce headquarter is located) and when I come to London for class I usually try to arrive on Thursday, so to wake up already in London on Friday; I usually then leave Sunday night. My favourite thing about coming to London for classes is the energy of my cohort and the energy of the city of London itself. It gives you the flavour that there are a lot of opportunities floating around here and you just have to be active and grasp them. It feels like nothing is impossible here. I am also very thankful to Imperial who always organise really interesting speakers and events to open our minds and extend our horizons.
My short-term goal is to get an executive position in my current organization. My long-term goal, dream, if we want, is instead to create my own company possibly in the space industry. It’s what I studied, what I love, but it’s also a very strong recent trend for the huge possibilities currently available. It is not a case if Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk are also investing there. For both of the paths, the MBA is very useful. It’s useful for career progression, especially for people like me who have a very good technical background but not the financial/business background. If I want to create a new company, I think it’s important to have an MBA from such a well-recognised university in the technology field can help you to attract funding and better people.
Juggling the work life balance
As a Weekend MBA student we must balance work, study and private life. It’s tough but also very exciting. For example, in the last period I changed job, I bought a house and I often travel abroad for work and personal. It’s very difficult at times and I’m still in the adjustment phase. Between the on campus course weekends, I try to get the most out of the “free” weekends to catch up with the programme and the readings and I also try to get a few hours of study on the weekdays but it’s not always possible. It’s about trying to prioritise and being good at time management. And, you know, Imperial offers time management course too!
Advice to prospective students
For me, I chose to do an MBA because I wanted to improve some of my skills and I saw the opportunity of bridging gaps in my financial and corporate background and enlarge network and opportunities. In addition to that, I also believe in the power of education, it always makes you a better version of yourself. If I should choose two reasons to suggest people do an MBA I would say first because it gives you years and years of experiences from your cohort and makes you learn about different career paths, industries and possibilities. Second, because give you the opportunity to observe organisations from the outside with a critical mind in order to understand the pros and cons and learn about the best practices and how you can contribute to make them better.