Job title and company: Finance Manager, Bulgari International Corporation NV
Previous degree and university: Master in International Economics, University of Roma Tre
Massimiliano Azzone lives in Amsterdam and works as a finance manager for Bulgari Netherlands. Massimiliano is married, likes to read, and plays sports such as tennis and swimming. He also loves good food and wine, and was happy to learn more about South African wine on the EMBA study trip.
1. Why did you join RSM’s Executive MBA?
“An extra study was in the back of my head, and an MBA was the ultimate study. I did a lot of research, and in the Netherlands, RSM suited me the best as it was the one that ticked all the boxes. It’s very international, and you can easily combine it with work as it’s easy to reach from Amsterdam.”
2. How do you manage balancing studying with work?
“It was tough to go back to studying at the beginning. But I found a balance after the first semester. I study in the evenings and weekends. At the RSM interview I was told you need three pillars: your company, your friends and your family. With these expectations this wasn’t a surprise. And my family, friends and work are supporting this.”
3. How is the EMBA affecting your work?
“Positively! I’m a finance guy, but now have a different approach when analysing things. I have a broader mindset, and am now more critical because of the case studies. I can also assess areas outside of my core job activities. It really adds value to my current job.”
4. What is the return on investment you expect?
“The ROI is the personal development which I can already see. My family also said I’m changing to a more 360 degree professional. It’s about the soft skills, and I notice that for director positions you need extra certificates to prove your mindset so I think it will reflect on the salary. And the sky is the limit.”
5. How has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?
“I like the way you learn how to accept who you are and find your inner strength. It’s okay if you don’t know things or have weaknesses. It’s about how you see yourself and work in towards this direction. This is the key part of any leader: knowing who you are and accepting it.”
6. What has been the best part of the EMBA so far?
“I love studying. Going back to school was difficult but now I really appreciate it. I like the case studies; they’re brilliant. I also like being with the fellow students. They’re incredible and really talented. And it’s good to see insights from another point of view through them. I work in finance and we’re in touch with different departments, but at RSM people share their insights and you can also use it.”
7. What did you learn from the international study trip?
“Cape Town was a fantastic experience. I’d already been there, but I liked discovering the business side of South Africa. We saw the good and the bad. We explored the positive sides of entrepreneurship, and talked with local entrepreneurs. We also saw the township reality. It’s not an easy transaction; there’s a lot of optimism but there are difficulties, for example drought. I concluded that if you can make it in South Africa with all its issues and potential, you can make it anywhere. You reflect on your own development; if you’re capable and struggle you can work things out.”
8. What is the biggest challenge of the Executive MBA?
“You’re put in a position in which you don't have all the elements to make a decision, but still make the best of it and get a good outcome. It’s a journey of interaction with your team members, and balancing between work, study and life.”
9. After the Executive MBA, what does the future hold?
“This is a good question. My goal is to have a more executive position, maybe outside of finance. The EMBA prepares you for anything you’d like to do – some of my classmates want to grow within their company or start their own business. Whatever happens, I see a bright future after the programme.”