101 successful women in Ticino: an interview with Cristina Saporiti

101 Successful Women in Ticino: Cristina Saporiti

Interview with Cristina Saporiti, Director of Operations of our USI Executive MBA, who has been featured featured in the publication “101 Successful Women in Ticino” by Edimen. 

Stories are never all alike. Stories mould themselves on people, tell about them and define them. Stories have a scent: Cristina’s, it smells like challenge. 

Because it all started with a challenge while I was working at Bocconi University in Milan under an ironclad contract obtained through an open call for tenders. In 12 years of work, I had already changed jobs many times. I was very well off, and I liked the environment. And I left it. For what? For the unknown. 

Tell us about it, this unknown. 

When I started at Bocconi, I was working for the Master in Business Administration and was in charge of the business side: I was selling the field projects and internships that were an integral part of the master’s programme, for which I cared much. Then, in 2010 I read that there was a call for applications at Università della Svizzera italiana, where they were trying to launch an MBA programme internationally. So, at age 37, I decided to leave Milan, where I had just bought a house after 12 years of renting, to come to Lugano to launch a new product. 

A leap of faith?

I had some experience in a development team in launching new products. However, here I was going to be on my own with the help of two professors, the scientific directors. I had to do everything from scratch, starting with the business plan: I had the freedom to “invent” according to my experience, following my curiosity and creativity, I had the opportunity to put myself on the line with a challenging and critical task. 

And was it difficult? 

In the beginning, it was not easy. I had a lot of contacts with Ticino, but I was used to a Milan-oriented work attitude, a fast pace and sometimes very superficial interactions. Instead, here in Ticino, I immediately understood how I should behave to integrate into the region successfully: in the beginning, the most important thing was networking, as well as working on the launch of the new product. Because I learned that the first thing you need is to understand where you are, the mindset, the people you have to interact with, and the values, specifically, it was essential to understand the mission of the institution: little by little, I started going to all the professional associations, hanging out with my colleagues, and gradually losing that Bocconian attitude. That constant frenzy, never stopping to smell the flowers, because it’s true: in Milan, you leave home, rush to the University, and never stop. You’re spinning all the time, but then you notice that you’re spinning meaninglessly, and then you must stop and figure out where you want to go. The moment I stopped, this opportunity came, and my heart migrated to Ticino, to Lugano, and here I found my place. 

What is your present today? 

My present is still in the making. I have been able to consolidate my challenge. The product is doing well, but we have adapted it to the new market, so it is in constant evolution: my present is like my product, and I am too. I’ve had the opportunity to embrace other challenges here within the University also because I arrived when the University was 15 years old, and now it’s 25. I’ve also gone from a family-run startup form to a much more adult stage. At Bocconi, I also had the opportunity to gain experience with different types of products. My challenge now is to launch for all different faculties some unique products. I put myself back in the game and set out to try to understand the educational offerings of all our faculties, even those that are not related to my academic background, to try to find some new stimuli, some new products, to consolidate the “brand awareness” of the University again.

Read the full version ( Italian only): 101-donne-cristina-saporiti