“Many organisations and business leaders now realise that in order to hold true purpose within society, profit, equity, sustainability, and inclusion must co-exist”
There is a new awareness, says Federico Frattini, Dean at the POLIMI Graduate School of Management in Milan, of the key role that universities and business schools have as agents of change. And he insists that profit need not be the be all and end all of a company. Innovation can transform educational methods so that schools can help future business leaders, managers and entrepreneurs to pursue a higher purpose.
Of course, this a process which cannot be completed overnight.
But Frattini believes that the number of schools which go further than just promoting a successful career to also ensure a wider, collective, elevated impact of individuals will increase in the next decade. And this journey of change is one that POLIMI has already embarked upon.
This is epitomised by the school’s own recent re-branding initiaitve. Previously known as MIP Politecnico di Milano, a business school embedded in one of Europe’s most prestigious technical universities, has recently changed its image and name to POLIMI Graduate School of Management. The rebranding stems from the desire to accelerate the school’s new direction.
“The path we have taken is not limited to a new logo and visual identity, but goes further, bringing with it a repositioning. POLIMI Graduate School of Management wants to be a school rooted in Milan as well as being present all over the world, recognised as one of the most innovative business schools, dedicated to its commitment to building a more equitable, inclusive and mindful society.”
This notion is also reflected in POLIMI’s partnerships. In 2021, the school began to work alongside The Mind at Work, a company which looks to strengthen the performance of teams and organisations, to realign the purpose, values and culture of POLIMI itself.
“Our programs are being redesigned to be purpose-led, to train managers wiling to rethink the role they can play in society, going further than the idea of profit as the sole goal. The Full Time MBA – our flagship program – will prepare future leaders to succeed, give meaning to their success, and to contribute to build a better future for all,” he says.
The intersection between innovation and business is clearly one that greatly shapes the MBA experience at POLIMI. “When we talk about innovation, we do not refer only to digital or technological innovation” says Frattini, “for us, being innovative means also to change our paradigm and educational methods to train managers to pursue a higher purpose.”
That’s why, together with The Mind at Work, POLIMI redesigned their Full-Time MBA program, already ranked by the FT among the best in the world. This New Generation MBA integrates, for the first time, two important dimensions. On one side, it provides the hard competencies and skills needed to perform. On the other side, MBAs are exposed to cutting-edge tools to elevate their performance by developing their awareness of self and others.
“Sometimes, we forget our inner dimensions,” Frattini says. “Indeed, becoming aware and taking control of our mental processes is critical to our ability to freely choose our purposes, rather than being reactive, so that we can be inspired and energized by them and be committed and purposeful in our actions. This awareness is fundamental to being a successful leader.”
The POLIMI MBA also intends to equip students with the ability to consciously pursue higher levels of engagement, motivation and alignment and to combine the pursuit of higher purpose and positive impact on society with sustainable financial performance.
The school itself has itself looked to align with societal change, and is a leading player in online learning. Now considered a major part of the future of business education, POLIMI have been ahead of the curve. “I imagine a physical future, which seamlessly integrates the online and on campus experience,” claims Frattini, “It all started back in 2014, when we launched the first Executive MBA in digital learning in Italy; a few years later, it resulted in a wide portfolio of blended programs, in a digital expertise that proved to be essential during the pandemic.
FLEXA, a continuous learning platform developed by the school in collaboration with Microsoft has been recognized by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) as one of the most innovative in the world.
Thanks to leading AI-powered technologies, POLIMI is able to offer students both on campus activities and online classes, creating a holistic experience which is immersive and responds to the increased need for flexibility. “Things can change unexpectedly, and organizations should learn to be adaptive, changing the way they work, encouraging people to be brave and innovative. We need to see change as an opportunity to explore, not as an obstacle to override,” says Frattini.
That’s why the school’s new campus in Milan’s vibrant Navigli district is designed to create a unified experience between the in-person learning experience and online – both for students and professors. POLIMI has also expanded nationally, starting from the original Milano Bovisa campus, to give life to local hubs in the Veneto, Lazio and Puglia regions. The goal is to enhance their vocation for innovation and offer students and professionals places for training, study and meeting up.
“My advice is to find your own why and to design a path that is also meaningful for you to follow. And that’s exactly the point of our New Generation MBA,” says Frattini.
“A fundamental part of our approach is to help our students in knowing how to recognize and choose purposes to consciously move their will, embrace authentic values and strengthen their inner compass. Indeed, inner work complements, empowers and enriches everything you do in your job and in your life. Our New Generation MBA gives candidates the tools to choose to pursue something more than success and profit, the tools to find their own path.”