2017 Best MBAs: Stanford GSB’s Federico Mossa

Federico Mossa

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“Analytical, caring, driven, flexible, generous, inquisitive, learner, musician, passionate, reflective, reliable, resilient, supportive, world citizen.”

Hometown: Sardinia, Italy

Fun fact about yourself: I have an autographed CD from my favorite band Radiohead saying “Federico, nice covers [of our songs]!”.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Università Commerciale “Luigi Bocconi”, Milan, Italy

  • Bachelor Degree in Public Management, 2006
  • MSc in Finance, 2008

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I started my career as an Analyst at Morgan Stanley in London. Then I joined Universal Music Group, where I progressed to Director of Commercial Analytics for the UK.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Netflix, Los Angeles

Where will you be working after graduation? Netflix, Manager in Content Planning & Analysis, Los Angeles

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • 2017 Siebel Scholar
  • Co-President of the Arts, Media and Entertainment Club
  • Teaching Assistant for the “Leadership in the Entertainment Industry” course
  • Leader of an official Global Study Trip to Italy

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The Global Study Trip to Italy in late March will be the highlight of my MBA. Along with three of my classmates, I will lead 26 first-year MBA students to visit iconic Italian companies and meet with high-profile business personalities over nine days. We will explore Italy’s challenges in balancing past success in traditional sectors and future innovation.

We have been planning the trip for 10 months. I am proud of how well our leadership team has come together, despite the complexity of the project (“Interpersonal Dynamics” helped!). I am also glad of exposing our trip participants to a less stereotypical image of Italy, both during pre-trip academic meetings and on the ground.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud to have fostered a data-driven culture at Universal Music, at a time of profound transformation in the industry. Music distribution shifted from the simple economics of CDs to the variegated landscape of downloads and streaming, and a huge amount of consumer data.

I developed my analytical skills during my investment banking experience, and I helped the company make better decisions in digital licensing deals (from iTunes to Spotify, and many others) through analysis of consumer behavior and deal scenario valuation. When I left Universal for Stanford, my farewell gift was the “Abbey Road” framed platinum record with the dedication “Thanks for making sense of our business”. I will cherish that for the rest of my life.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? A favorite course was “Leadership in the Entertainment Industry”, taught by Bill Guttentag. I liked it so much that I decided to help as a Teaching Assistant this year. The course offers a stellar lineup of speakers from the movie, TV, music and gaming industries. And speaking again of communication – all the guests were superb in their delivery to the class. Richard Plepler’s talk about the importance of a “culture of dissent” at HBO was one of the most memorable moments of my MBA.

Why did you choose this business school? I fell in love with Stanford GSB when I first visited three years ago. I was impressed by how welcoming, smart and humble the students were. Although I was only considering applying at the time, everyone I met made me feel part of the community for a day. I believe that your classmates are the single most important component of the MBA experience, and I have enjoyed getting to know so many talented and caring individuals.

Furthermore, honing my soft skills was a key reason for pursuing an MBA. In particular, I sought to develop higher self-awareness, and a more effective and versatile communication style. The GSB places great emphasis on this, and courses such as “Interpersonal Dynamics”, “Organizational Behavior” and “Winning Writing” have been invaluable to working towards these goals.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I loved the people and the close-knit community that Stanford GSB fosters. One of my favorite events is TALK. Every Monday night, two classmates share their story, or anything that matters to them, in a room packed with people. Each of the stories I heard was unique and inspiring. This GSB tradition is an effective way of getting to know the real people sitting around you in class.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? Now that I have only one quarter left at Stanford, it is surprising to me how much the MBA experience transforms you as an individual. You might not realize it day by day, but all the conversations with classmates and professors, the access to business leaders, and the time for self-reflection push you to grow on many levels.

If I look back at when I started, 18 months ago, I see a big difference. At the core I still have the same values and passions – but I am more self-aware, I have more intellectual and emotional tools that I can choose from, and even more conviction in the professional path that I want to pursue.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had set aside more time for myself and my family. My fiancée has lived this experience by my side on campus, and she has been so supportive. However, it is easy to get caught up in the endless stream of meetings, events, classes – and lose track of what is most important. My biggest goal for the future is to find a healthy balance between a demanding professional life and the attention and care that I want to devote to my family.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My friend Benjamin Fernandes. I met him when he invited me to visit Tanzania before starting business school. The story of how he got to Stanford, after growing up in the slums of Dar es Salaam, is extraordinary. He is now working on a startup to provide mobile payments to East Africa. He has an outstanding ability to connect with everyone he meets, and I am convinced that one day he will become President of Tanzania!

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was negotiating music distribution deals with executives in various industries (technology, telecommunications, device manufacturers, retail). I felt the desire to deepen my understanding of business fundamentals and cross-industry knowledge, and to refine my soft skills.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…possibly helping Universal Music with the crucial renewal of the Spotify deal (I liked my previous job!).”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I love a quote by Reed Hastings, because it encapsulates my long-term career vision. “Fundamentally we [Netflix] are about eliminating loneliness and boredom…that’s what entertainment does.”  My goal is to work on innovative ways of distributing and experiencing great content, which can increase our well-being and empathy with the world. Given this goal, Netflix is the best place to begin my post-MBA journey.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family – my parents Lucia and Gianni, and my sister Claudia – is at the root of my success. They have been prime examples of the human being that I aspire to be: generous, humble, hard-working and eager for self-improvement. My parents have always lived in Sardinia, an isolated island off the coast of Italy, but their immense intellectual curiosity has inspired me to open up toward the world since my childhood.

I would also like to thank Brian, my former manager at Universal Music, who is now at Apple. He taught me first-hand the huge importance of communication and relationship-building in business, of which he is a master.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? The Italian classmate who inspired them to be even more passionate about what matters most to them.

Favorite book: Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh

Favorite movie or television show: Big Fish by Tim Burton

Favorite musical performer: Radiohead

Favorite vacation spot: my hometown in Sardinia, Italy – a paradise by the Mediterranean Sea

Hobbies? I am self-taught in guitar, bass and piano. For the last decade I have written and recorded music (sung in Italian) in my home studio. I have a few records on Spotify, as a pure hobby. I never had any artistic ambitions!


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