5 Things I’ve Learned From My MBA Internship In Industry 4.0

Johana Ossma was headhunted for an Industry 4.0 internship at Whirlpool after meeting company representatives on campus at Italy’s MIP

3D printing; artificial intelligence; data analytics. For manufacturing companies, these cutting-edge developments in tech have the potential to ramp up efficiency and reduce costs while, on the production line, people are replaced by intelligent, self-improving machines.

For tech-savvy MBA students, Industry 4.0—this trend of automation developments in mechanical engineering—ranks among the hottest career destinations out there.

A student on the full-time MBA at Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano, Johana Ossma was participating in one of the school’s flagship Management Bootcamps—where students gain access to industry and learn about emerging management topics—when she met with representatives from Whirlpool, the multinational manufacturer of home appliances.

After the Bootcamp, she got a call from Whirlpool offering her an internship in the firm’s Industry 4.0 department. She completes her MBA in September; her internship ends in January 2019. After it, she hopes to continue in the same field in a full-time role.

A former engineer, Johana moved from Colombia to get a broader view of business from an MBA in Europe. She chose the MIP MBA for its close ties to industry—the program is offered in official partnership with a host of partner companies including BCG, IBM, Microsoft, and Whirlpool.

Johana highlights her favorite professor, Tomasso Buganza, whose classes on project management and leadership, have set her up for future success.

Here’s five things she’s learned from her internship in Industry 4.0:


1. Industry 4.0 can transform a company

“You can become a world class manufacturing company with Industry 4.0. It’s aligned with continuous improvement. By implementing Industry 4.0, you can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and improve the working experience for your employees.”

2. It will bring better jobs, not job cuts

“Human capital is the key resource in the Industry 4.0 era—that’s the way you can distinguish between one company and another.

“Yes, Industry 4.0 means replacing some repetitive activities now carried out by humans, but the human resource you have carrying out these tasks could be doing something else more valuable to the company.

“Industry 4.0 gives you more information on your resources and based on that you can analyze and extract information that improves efficiency. It gives you more flexibility with the resources you’re using. In terms of people, you’ll be able to get the best out of them.”

3. Industry 4.0 must be embedded within company strategy

“Digital transformations are generally not profitable in the short-term. If you want to have success with the implementation of Industry 4.0 technology, you need to manage resources very carefully, and carefully plan the introduction of the new tech.

“You need to gather the best team that you can to implement any technology because, when you speak about it to different departments, you need people to have trust in the technology you’re introducing.

“That’s why the implementation of Industry 4.0 needs to be part of the overall strategy of the company. People need to know it’s a long-term project, supported by the CEO and senior management.”

4. Implementation is complex

“When you’re introducing new technology, you need to run a pilot; you need to test implementation as much as you can. With Industry 4.0, you won’t see the results of implementation within six months or a year like on other projects. You may have to wait two or three years to see the results.”

5. An MBA degree prepares you for working in Industry 4.0

“To work in Industry 4.0, you need an open mind, an innovative approach, and, most of all, resilience. You are making change and you need to be aware that results will not immediately be visible.

“The MBA gives you all the right tools you need to understand how to apply Industry 4.0 across different industries. From the MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano, I learned how to work in an international environment, and how to communicate with different stakeholders in the right way.

Those skills are key when implementing Industry 4.0. And understanding the key role human capital plays in the execution of any change can be the difference between success and failure.

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