“Indian business is progressing in big leaps,” proclaims David Bardolet, dean of the SDA Bocconi Asia Center.
The Mumbai skyline, filled with skyscrapers and high-rise apartment blocks, is a far cry from the more antiquated, classically Italian cityscape of Milan. Since the 1960s, Mumbai has seen rapid industrial growth and redevelopment.
It is now the biggest city in South Asia, with a population over 20 million, and is commonly viewed as India’s financial and commercial center.
It is this exciting growth, David adds, which drew one of Europe’s best-ranked business schools, SDA Bocconi in Milan, to found SDA Bocconi Asia Center in Mumbai.
From Mumbai , SDA Bocconi offers the International Master in Business (IMB) program, taught by Bocconi professors and comprised of two 11-month modules, including a four-month specialization semester spent at the school’s main campus in Milan.
David says the program offers students the kind of international experience which is rare among domestic business schools in India.
“We do not include an international experience, we are an international experience,” he says.
For Palak Asnani, this was the main draw to the SDA Bocconi Asia Center. Originally from Delhi, Palak was looking at opportunities to study business abroad.
The IMB provided Palak with the “best of both worlds”, enabling her to stay close to her family while getting a chance to study at a school with international faculty and program focus. “This is not something anywhere else in India offers,” she says.
During her semester in Milan, Palak will get the chance to specialize in fields of her choosing, including retail, marketing, brand management, and luxury and fashion management. “I am keen on specializing in marketing with a brand management role. My internship with Luxottica is a perfect platform to kick start my marketing career ”, she added.
This practical experience is perfectly suited to students like Palak (pictured below), who look at the International Master in Business program as a way of pursuing a different career direction.
Having studied computer science engineering at undergraduate level, the IMB program at SDA Bocconi is equipping her with essential skills which she was lacking before.
Learning, meanwhile, isn’t restricted to the classroom. Part of giving students practical experience is exposing them first-hand to industry in the region.
Students on the International Master in Business (IMB) at the SDA Bocconi Asia Center also undertake a summer internship between their first and second year, where a hands-on involvement in industry gives them the skills and experience of working at global companies based in India.
In the past, IMB students have taken placements at the Indian regional branches of multinationals like Vodafone, Ferrero, and Piaggio.
This is complemented by an emphasis on soft skills, with the school offering modules in written and oral communication.
Mumbai and Milan, and their respective domestic industries, seem worlds apart. But, David continues, Italy and India do have a significant thing in common.
“Like Italy, India is a country of small and medium enterprises. The business landscape is made up of family-owned businesses—even the large companies are run like family businesses,” he says. In fact, another big part of SDA Bocconi’s offerings in Mumbai relate to executive education, in open-enrolment programs as well as in customised training for companies.
The two countries have similar GDPs, with Italy at just over $2 trillion and India at $2.7 trillion. Yet the rapid growth of India’s population—1.34 billion and fast approaching China as the world’s largest population—signals that its economy and international power is on the rise.
Students on the International Master in Business (IMB) at the SDA Bocconi Asia Center can explore both India and Italy. Understanding the nuanced differences of the Indian economy is crucial to the program. While much of the IMB is taught by SDA Bocconi’s International faculty, the domestic faculty is growing too.
The shifting direction of India’s economy towards high skilled industry, moreover, is demanding a high output of trained business professionals. Booming industries like IT and finance has meant that the services sector now contributes to 57% of India’s GDP—formerly dominated by agriculture and manufacturing.
When asked about the future of the world’s economy, David says he sees India, alongside China, firmly at its center.
“If you are looking at 10 to 15 years from now about where are you going to have your biggest or your fastest-growing business ties,” David explains. “The answer is most likely China and India.”