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Italian Graduate Uses MBA To Enter Business Of Chocolate

Amedeo Aragona used his MBA from Italy's MIP to break into the chocolate business at Ferrero SpA, the leading consumer goods company, as a marketing manager.

Amedeo Aragona graduated from the MBA program at Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano in 2012. After an internship at Ferrero SpA, the leading consumer goods company behind brands such as Ferrero Rocher chocolates, he was hired on a full-time basis as an innovation manager.

In March this year, he was promoted to product marketing manager. Before joining the confectionary giant, he worked as a junior analyst at Confindustria.

But aside from tasting new product lines – and occasionally sneaking confectionary home (with permission) – he is far from a chocolatier. Amedeo is able to use the marketing skills gleaned from his MBA and apply them to his day-to-day job, and says that the degree is essential for achieving results at Ferrero.

Why did you decide to leave your job at Confindustria and begin a full-time MBA program?

A full-time MBA program was my dream. When I moved from my hometown in the South of Italy to the Luiss University of Rome, I noticed a brochure talking about an MBA. I kept it in mind.

I entered Confindustria when I was just 23 years old, right after graduation. The experience was amazing. [But] the dream was there and I could not lie to myself. I could not forget what I had promised to myself. When I was 26 I tried to enter to a full-time MBA program.

I knew an MBA would have given me everything I really was looking in my life: a global mind-set; learning about managing people and becoming a leader; understanding how all aspects of a company work; and building lifelong relationships with managers from all over the world.

The most amazing thing is: I was right.

How was your experience at MIP in Milan?

MIP not only maintained all its promises, but overcame my expectations in terms of its organization, professionalism, and personal approach.

I had the chance to talk with great teachers, I learnt how to work in teams, I had the chance to stop and reflect on some big business issues, and I [now] know what a manager should and shouldn’t do.

My colleagues deserve a special mention. They come from all over the world, but since the first day I felt like I was in a family. Everyone [was] ready to help each other. Now we all live in different countries, but we have not lost our strong friendships.

My 14 months at MIP are unforgettable; I will have these memories with me for the rest of my life.

What value do you place in your MBA now?

I think I did an MBA at an age when I was still shaping myself, and I had the chance to meet executives, teachers and colleagues whom helped me to build [myself into] a future manager.

What did your initial MBA project with Ferrero involve?

The MBA project work I did for Ferrero was about the full reorganization of Ferrero Greece. Ferrero was worried about the unstable economic situation Greece was facing, and it wanted to understand how Ferrero Greece was going, and how improve its performance.

I analyzed the FTE of each employee, the results brought to the company by each of them, and how the hierarchy has [been] built during the last three years.

The objective was to find the key to improve the overall performance of Ferrero Greece. I felt part of this company from the first minute – [it was an] amazing experience.

You were hired permanently afterward - how did you secure the job?

I start the day as a sponge, ready to learn, ready to improve my way of working and my personal and technical skills. I think having a positive approach to life helps too.

I try also to create a beautiful working atmosphere, never forgetting that if we feel the same enthusiasm, it will be easier to follow the same goal. Even when I fail, I am ready to rise up with a lesson learnt. Maybe all these variables helped me to secure the job. I do everything to improve day by day.

You are a product marketing manager – what marketing lessons can you apply from your MBA to your current role?

Being a product marketing manager means two crucial things: firstly [I need to] analyze the results, then [work out] how to improve them – and my MBA helped in both these aspects.

MIP has an engineering approach, which gave me the ability to read behind the numbers, giving [me] a critical view of the situation and [the ability to] anticipate the issues.

I learnt how to think outside the box, to start reading consumers’ needs – the key for a marketing manager. Without the knowledge I achieved [on the MBA] I could not have the same results in my job.

What is unique about working in the consumer goods sector, and do you get to take home any of Ferrero's famous confectionery?

The consumer goods sector is a world where companies are facing unique problems and amazing challenges.

Every product is an individual “enterprise”, incorporating the strategic, organizational and economic elements that define it. It is crucial to defend the uniqueness of the product, to build a global leadership and to ensure continued development.

Each aspect has the same importance. Each variable of the marketing mix – advertising, promotion, distribution [and] price, and all the fundamental management processes – innovation, experimentation and brand cultivation, play an important role in defining and developing products [that are] able to answer customers’ needs.

Of course I have the chance to take home some Ferrero’s products. And working in the innovation field, I usually have the opportunity to taste the products of the future – but I cannot talk about them!

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