2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Andrea Teja, IMD

Andrea Teja

IMD Business School

“Confident, enthusiastic, innovative leader, with 10 years of military leadership experience as a Lieutenant.”

Hometown: Milan, Italy

Fun fact about yourself: In 2017, while I was working, I decided to take a 2-year Masterʼs degree program, in 1 year. I used to wake up early every morning to study and work again late into the evening. After months at this fast pace, I was exhausted. So, in order to wake up, I decided to put my alarm clock in the kitchen: I literally had to stand up and walk to the other side of the house in order to stop it!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

2010 – Bachelor of Science (Hons): Maritime & Naval Science (Engineering & Intʼl relations), Italian Naval Academy

2012 – Master of Science (Hons): Maritime & Naval Science (Engineering & Intʼl relations), Italian Naval Academy

2017 – Master (Hons): Management, University of Pisa

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Head of Combat and Intelligence Department, Italian Navy

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Co, Associate.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • IMD MBA Merit Scholarship
  • President of the IMD sailing club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I co-founded a start-up called Change It with a good friend (Fabio Balice, former Lieutenant, now Area Manager in Amazon). We link military personnel interested in transitioning to the business world, or 19-year-olds interested in joining the military, with mentors (former military personnel). This digital platform developed quite well and we also created a non-official partnership with the military recruiting team of Amazon.

We didn’t stop there because we want to create a system, a game-changer in European cultures, where firms will benefit from the value and skills of former militaries and the Armed Forces will benefit by recruiting more young talent. We have already pitched our idea to the Italian Ministry of Defense. Using an IMD slogan, ”We want to challenge what it is…and…inspire what it could be…”, we hope to create a sustainable environment with firms, militaries, armed forces, and young kids all on the same platform.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was selected as the Italian Navy representative, as part of a broader diplomatic relations program between Italy and the USA. I was assigned onboard a US warship-destroyer based in Virginia, as a Division Officer, leader of the navigation team, responsible for training 15 officers and petty officers. After one year of operation, my team reached a 95% score overall and was lauded as one of the top five navigation teams of all the US Atlantic fleet (more than 180 warships). At the end of my assignment, I was honored by the Secretary of the US Navy with the “Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal”, an award rarely earned by a foreign officer. What makes me proud of this award is the difficulties I met and the way I managed to overcome them. In particular, the cultural gap: the two navies have different operational procedures and traditions. Besides the work itself, I was able to build a cohesive team, creating close relationships with my subordinates without relying on my rank, but rather on respect, trust, and personal charisma.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is really a tricky question! I can say that one of the most spectacular sessions came from President Jean Francois Manzoni. “Challenge what it is, inspire what it could be.” What a quote full of meanings, full of hopes and dreams. The President talks in a simple manner, but he goes straight to your feelings, to your heart, to your emotions. Just by talking, he makes you believe in those hopes, makes you believe that you can reach those dreams!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The start-up project was one of my favorite activities, working with a team of six classmates, side by side with an amazing digital start-up called “Privately”. They developed a really efficient AI technology in order to educate kids on the use of social media and the internet. Digital, AI, and innovation are some of the aspects that I am passionate about, and itʼs awesome how IMD gave me the chance to work on them hands-on in a real-world situation. My team was incredibly diverse: a doctor, an engineer, an investment banker, a former CFO, a private equity manager, and me (a former Lieutenant). Everyone brought a different point of view to the table and itʼs amazing how, when we put everything together, we came up with remarkable ideas.

Why did you choose this business school? The key factor was the combination of the program structure and its distinctive core. The real question was, “What am I looking for?”. What makes the difference is the core of the program from a holistic point of view. The IMD MBA program structure has a global focus, is oriented towards the digital landscape, and develops an entrepreneurial mindset, which is more and more important in the corporate world. The core of the IMD MBA is the personal leadership development journey. This is possible only because there are 90 people for each batch. There is space to develop individually; each participant counts and each participantʼs issue is heard. So the program increases your leadership skills alongside a deep personal development path that at the end will make you a better business leader.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Reach out to alumni or current participants because you can really perceive that there is a genuine connection between all of them. The alumni network is really strong; everyone is always open to help you.

I remember reaching out to Andrea Splendiani. At the time, I was still choosing which business school to apply. Today, after almost two years, he has become one of my closest mentors, I always ask his advice.

Alumni help you perceive the overall top quality and distinctive environment of IMD.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that during the IMD MBA you can get the full MBA package alongside a great leadership and personal development stream. This is a true myth! Besides the MBA hard-tool kit we all get, you also get a leadership coach and a personal development coach to discuss yourself, your problems, your attitude, your leadership style – everything! In the end, you realize that business is about people and people are about your personal development!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I had to go back, I wouldn’t waste time applying to other business schools! I don’t think there is a perfect business school, but there is the perfect business school for you based on what you need and want to get out from the MBA year. You won’t have another year in which you can re-start your professional career, so be wise in selecting the right school for you. IMD was my perfect match! The MBA year for me was extremely successful over every aspect (I even got married!). So live every single moment, don’t waste any aspect of the program, and don’t miss out on a beer with your classmates because you are tired! The MBA clock flies!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Luca Emanuele Facchini. Luca graduated from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. This college has only 11 spots per year. He is the brightest mind I ever met. At the same time, he is the humblest person ever. He never showed off and he was always ready to help anyone. His attitude toward the world, in general, is incredible; he is always positive and can find the bright side in every aspect. He makes me remember that life is what is happening while you are planning it… so the important thing is to just live it!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The military service was a family tradition. My father and relatives have been officers either of the Navy or the Air force. Probably this environment influenced me, but the choice to enter the Navy was natural: I felt that I wanted to be part of this tradition. The great advice I got from a friend of my dad was this: “lf you go in the military and one day choose to change to the business world, that will be possible, while the opposite is impossible.” In the end, this is exactly what happened!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I am heading to consulting because I want to be exposed to as many industries and functions as possible. When I was speaking with senior partners of different consulting companies during my interviews, I could feel their insightfulness. Well, that is my goal: I want to become an executive who can reshape different types of business topics.

At the end of my career, I would like to have made an impact. For instance, the reason I launched my start-up, Change It, is to “challenge what it is, and inspire what it could be”. I want to create a new ecosystem, where the military world and the business world are more linked.

My biggest ambition is then to feel that I made something happen, to feel that I was able to really change something into something better.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Andrea used to say: “If you really want to reach your goals, be focused, be ambitious, believe in yourself, and never never give up!“

Hobbies? Together with golfing and skiing, sailing is an important part of my life: I began as a member of the Naval Academy sailing team and became a skipper. I love racing along with a crew because it helps develop many useful skills: the crew is a team, you win as a team. There is no individualism: it’s a team effort. As the skipper, I am responsible for the safety of the team, and I can say safety has entered my DNA.

What made Andrea such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“From a military background, with eight years of international experience in project management and leadership of multidisciplinary teams, Andrea clearly applied his skills during the year. Always motivated and proactive, he not only rose to the challenges of the program but sought extra ones too. His launch of a platform to help career transitions for members of the armed forces is just one example. His contagious enthusiasm and energy will take him far.

We wish him all the best with his future.”

The IMD MBA Office Team


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