Meet the 2022 MBA class: Maria Lia Magni, INSEAD



“Italian woman, passionate hiker, currently in counseling, taking the time to re-evaluate my long-term goals.â€

Hometown: Monza, Italy

Fun fact about yourself: In my four years as an undergraduate student, I obtained three business administration degrees from the three universities I attended: USC in Los Angeles, HKUST in Hong Kong, and Bocconi in Milan.

Undergraduate and major school: World Bachelor in Business program at HKUST, also attending USC and Bocconi

Most recent employer and job title: Business Analyst at McKinsey & Co. in Milan

INSEAD is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives increasing the value of your business training over the next year?
I am sure that being in a global learning environment will be of great value to my business training in the coming year. I have had many experiences in multicultural learning environments and have always found that diversity improves the chances of learning. You have the chance to see things from different angles through the eyes of your classmates and friends, which in your daily life helps you see things from the point of view of the people you work with and people that you lead. You become more open-minded, you learn to question your own assumptions constructively, and you better appreciate the value of different contributions.

Exposure to diverse teams during my MBA will also help me become more efficient when working on international projects, which are becoming more compelling for many companies every day. In my work, I have already participated in international efforts and I believe that these projects will become more relevant every day. Mediating between different work styles and cultures can be difficult at times, but with experience you come to discover the benefits of these types of diversity and overcome the challenges. INSEAD can be a valuable framework for putting these skills into practice.

Apart from your classmates, What was the key element of the INSEAD MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Besides the global perspective and the international composition of the class, I think that INSEAD sets itself apart from other large business schools by its dynamism.

Being an intense 10 month program, students are really pushed to prioritize what is most important to them at this precise moment, challenging them to focus and effectively juggle all the activities that they are involved in. The ability to spend time on different campuses also contributes to the dynamics of the course so that students can tailor it to their own preferences and needs.

I believe this aspect of the course is also very relevant to my life. In our jobs and our lives, we are always juggling different priorities and different activities. INSEAD creates an environment in which students can become more comfortable making choices about how they want to spend their precious time.

What class, club or activity are you most passionate about at INSEAD? I look forward to the opportunity to spend time on the different campuses. I chose Singapore as my home campus, but I’ll probably be spending a period or two at Fontainebleau. This will give me the opportunity to get to know even more people from my class and to make the most of the INSEAD experience. The setting of the two main campuses is quite different and I think it helps to experience both to get a more complete experience.

Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: The most rewarding experience of my career so far has been working on a project focusing on youth unemployment in Italy. My team and I created the Italian branch of a startup, the aim of which is to develop training programs that would help young people to find employment. In the first six months, we have helped over 50 students find jobs. By the end of the third year, the number had grown to several hundred. I consider this a great accomplishment because I have helped build a business that changes the lives of many people, having a real positive impact on their future.

How has COVID-19 changed your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 has been a change accelerator for many clients I have worked with. It was a time when flexibility and stamina proved essential to continue supporting them.

Overnight, their way of working was upset and mine too. I believe the situation has shown me how businesses can really change their ways if they put real effort into it. With COVID-19, businesses had no choice but to change, but the lessons learned over those few months will prove invaluable in the future. From now on, I hope I won’t hear the comment “It will take many years to implement” as often as I have. The past few months have shown us that we all underestimate our ability to change and adapt. We can now leverage these newly discovered skills to implement further strategic changes in how businesses operate.

On a more personal note, COVID taught me the need for balance. After spending many months in total lockdown in Italy, I had to put some limits in my life to make sure I always made time for myself. In the long run, I believe these limits I set for myself will help me achieve a sustainable work-life balance.

What drew you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after you graduate? Being at a crossroads in my career, I think pursuing an MBA is the best way for me to make the transition as smooth as possible. So far my performance has been determined by my skills and my individual contribution. From now on, my success will depend on my ability to be an inspiring and effective leader and my ability to manage my team. I believe that pursuing an MBA at INSEAD can really help me make this transition as I am given the time and resources to work on myself at 360 °, not only as a leader and professional but also as a that no one.

Upon graduation, I will return to McKinsey as an associate and hopefully soon become a manager, taking a leadership position to lead teams and clients to success and make a difference.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? INSEAD was my first choice, and it’s the only school I applied to. I sent my application during the first rounds in order to still have time to apply to other schools if I was not admitted. In doing so, I was able to fully concentrate my efforts on the application that was most important to me.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to INSEAD’s MBA program? Be yourself and talk to elders before you apply.

During the application process, you will be asked several questions about your personal and professional background. Take the time to really reflect on the experiences that shaped you who you are today, and make sure that this is conveyed in your essays. You are not just the title of your job; therefore, you should give relevance to other experiences as well.

INSEAD is not just about academics and career opportunities. Speaking with elders, I realized that this can be a life changing experience that goes beyond. I have always been impressed by the passion of alumni when they talked about their time at INSEAD. When applying, I would suggest applicants take the time to talk to some of them to make sure that this is the experience you are looking for and that you fit well with the spirit and environment of school.




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