BBS Alumni talk about themselves: what was before, what came after and the memories of the student’s life, to offer a personal story and a narration of one’s own professional experience. For a history of our Community.
The protagonist of the ninth episode is Michele Messori, Regional Manager Distributors EMEA and Asia Eastpak, MBA distance learning 2010/2012.
Michele’s soundtrack is Ligabue, “you choose the song, I’m from Reggio-Emilia, like Him”.
How do you choose your bags? “It’s a mixture of emotions, of feelings. I own at least four or five per type, different colours and textures. I don’t particularly like showy or flashy things, I’d rather go for neutral hues or I can dare a checked pattern.”
And you always bring with you…? “Swimming trunks and goggles: the executive’s kit. I’m a swimmer, I take a dive anytime I can”.
The chat with Michele, a very serious chat, features a few, flamboyant coup de théâtre, till the final explosion.
The story so far
“After getting my university degree, I started working in the ceramics sector, international sales, then I joined Maxmara as Area Manager for Penny Black.” Immediately after, Michele attended the Masters and during the course he joined Timberland, part of the VF Corporation, as Area Manager Wholesale and Franchise. Thanks to a group internal selection, in 2014 he moved to Eastpak, for a project to rebuild distribution, in which Asia and the Middle East play a strategic role.
Michele chose to enroll in a Masters to interrupt a period that seemed far too idyllic. “Everything was great, but I wasn’t growing, I could see no further perspectives. I plunged into the Masters in order to understand more, demanding to understand more.”
The awareness of having made the right choice came later, when a company chose him despite his complete lack of direct experience in that industry. When they touched the topic, during the interview, his reply was “I believe experience is overrated.”
“I didn’t attend a placement MBA, I did it to learn.”
Michele often talks and works with people who went to other business schools. “We learnt about the same things, but Bologna has something more for me, because of the close link with the territory and its unique characteristics. It’s a special touch, that makes the difference. I adore Milan, the true capital of the country, for everything work-related, but I studied in Bologna and I’m fond of it. In my fridge, in Brussels, there are always Lambrusco wine and Parmigiano cheese. As I said, I’m a fully-fledged Emiliano specimen!”
Experience VS Talent
“One can’t fill gaps with experience: one ends up in those endless loops in which things have always been done this way, and that’s how we’ll go on doing.” Today, Michele works for a multinational, where the boss may be younger than you, where talent is rewarded, and not seniority. He likes that.
“I always enjoyed turning the tide. When I was appointed in charge of domestic sales, in the first company I worked for, I quit. Cursus honorum doesn’t interest me.”
“I’m not obliging. I enjoy challenging the system, shaking it, and, if I believe in it, go the whole hog. I simply try to do it the intelligent way.”
For many years, Michele was a basketball coach, from junior teams to top league. “It’s the career that wasn’t to be”, he says, and one might get a bit curious about the coaching methods of a non-obliging coach. But it wasn’t to be.
“After attending the scientific lyceum, I wanted to study dentistry, but I didn’t pass the test. I’d passed, though, the test for medicine, but the idea of studying for ten years before getting my hands dirty wasn’t that enticing. So, I went for foreign languages, English and Spanish, then I attended the Masters in Business Administration; it was my wife’s suggestion. We did it together, she’s the family centre of gravity.
We met in 2002, in Santa Cruz, during an Erasmus project. After a good year together, we never left each other and we married in 2012, at the City Hall in Bologna”.
So far, the chat with Michele wins the prize for the best glacial conversation, that has turned into a crazy, warm and flowing one. If someone listened to our conversation, one of the sentences that was uttered more often was “one needs a great deal of chutzpah, as well”, meaning, a resource to overcome an impasse.
This race for the storytelling, the challenge, the going away, the love for books “mingling history and geography” and military strategy, could remind one of that philological tradition that combined together lead towards the famous Ludovico Ariosto, author of Orlando Furioso (The Frenzy of Orlando), who was born in Michele’s lands. The editor had promised himself not to mention him –and he managed, almost till the end.
A piece of advice to a student
“Take risks, it’s a luxury that, when young, everyone can afford. I’m going to quote a sentence that I really like, even though it may sound a bit Facebook-esque: ‘Life is short, make mistakes!’”
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