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Professor Maurizio Dallocchio: The Bulgarian Students Are the Most Ambitious Ones I Have Ever Had

“I have been to many countries on different continents but it is the preparation level of Bulgarian students that stands out”

Business card: Prof. Maurizio Dallocchio is the Director of the Executive Master in “Finance, Banking and Real Estate” that was launched last year in Bulgaria as a joint program of leading Italian university “Bocconi” and the American University in Bulgaria. He is former dean at the prestigious SDA Bocconi School of Management and currently a professor of corporate finance.

Prof. Dallocchio, it has been just over a year since you introduced the new Executive Master in “Finance, Banking and Real Estate” at Bocconi’s branch in Bulgaria. Do you find that a sufficient number of students in our country have interest in the field?    

In fact, students have demonstrated great interest in the program and this is due to two main reasons. The first reason is that the content of the Master program is in line with the interests of today’s innovative business people and the disciplines we teach can easily be applied in real life.

Secondly, students are interested in the program because of the institutions involved. SDA Bocconi is one of the most prestigious schools of business management in the world. According to “Financial Times” our programs rank as the fourth most successful in the world. This is due to a great extent to the fact that the programs are based on experience and self-initiative. In addition, our local partner the American University in Bulgaria is a dream companion in such an ambitious journey.

Of course, our students acquire exclusive qualifications and this requires a considerable investment that still prevents large numbers of people from applying for the program. We are still very pleased with the first year results as they have greatly exceeded our expectations.

The decision to offer such an innovative program in Bulgaria is a bold one, especially considering the Bulgarian standards. What were your expectations last year and what are your current observations?

Our expectations were fully justified thanks to our joint efforts with the American University in Bulgaria and the support we got from the Bulgarian business. We intended to attract 20 to 25 top candidates that would greatly influence the public life in Bulgaria. We approached this task with great responsibility and an in-depth research at the local level but also with the desire to gradually integrate our knowledge and know-how into the Bulgarian reality. Following an exciting first year in Bulgaria I can now definitely say that we have achieved all of our goals and can move forward with great confidence.

Could you tell us a bit more about your observations on the Bulgarian students?

This is indeed something that has greatly impressed our entire team. Myself, my colleagues, we were all very pleasantly surprised. Here in Bulgaria I teach together with a team of some of the most renowned professors from the Bocconi University and we are all amazed by the experience, the skills (both academic and professional) of our students and the results that they have achieved. These students have an extremely high level of general knowledge, a strong mathematical and statistical background which— and I am sure this is no exaggeration— is on an incredibly high level. The desire of our students to be of importance, to exert their influence on public life and to learn very quickly is truly impressive. Of course, all of this has had an impact on our own selves. Together with my colleagues we had to raise the standards and make our courses even more complex and relevant to the high levels of knowledge and skills of our audience. I don’t want this to sound too flattering but I am truly amazed by the abilities of the students! Believe me: I've seen many students in different universities, schools, countries and continents but there is something different here: one can feel the spirit, the desire and push as well as the proper foundations and wider knowledge. Here we have highly energetic and extremely ambitious students and this is not an exception: the general level is simply very high.

Do you have students from abroad who come to study in Bulgaria?

A: Yes, we have people coming from Kosovo and Albania, for example. Our aim is to turn Sofia into an academic hub for business education on the Balkans. We at SDA Bocconi, along with the American University in Bulgaria and our local partners, can bet that this is exactly what is going to happen.

Do you have any observations regarding your students in Bulgaria and whether they fund their Master’s themselves or with the support of the companies that employ them?

We have both kinds of students. Of course, the desire to grow, to develop your personal skills and take on new responsibilities requires an enormous motivation. But considering the importance of the investment (money, time, energy, family commitments), the company’s contribution is always welcome. In addition, these investments bring a rapid return on investment as the personnel we prepare returns to work much more successful - something that good managers with a clear strategy for the development of their companies know only too well.

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