Women on the move – Alessandra Juri Zanolari

Alessandra, what is your current position?

Deputy Director of Adolfo Juri Elettronica Industriale SA, my family-run Electronics Manufacturing Services company based in Ambrì.

Why you decided to start an EMBA?

For about fifteen years, I had been working as a language teacher in the Secondary School but, in 2011, I decided for a career change and joined my father in the management of our family-run business. After a few years of very enriching field-based learning, I felt I needed to put my practical experience into a broader framework, in order to enhance my knowledge and skills and be perfectly ready to undertake the challenging management change within the company.
To this purpose, I was aware of the importance of exploring in depth the academic approach on selected topics and issues, and at the same time taking advantage of the ready-to-use insight offered by the EMBA practical business simulations, in order to improve and refine the broad range of leadership and managerial skills required nowadays to be at the head of an organization. That’s how I finally decided to invest in myself and enroll in the EMBA program at USI, since it offered exactly what I needed, an academic approach well-balanced between practice and theory.

Which challenges did you meet?

The most challenging part of it was the time commitment and the stressful pace of life it requires. All along the EMBA period, there’s no free time left, nor for yourself, neither for your family, friends or hobbies. This can be very tough to cope with for almost two years. Apart from that, I’m a passionate student and I love acquiring new knowledge, so I found this experience really exciting. The classes were generally extremely stimulating and learning based on group-work activities was absolutely engaging, as well as networking in a high-level and multi-industry international setting. I also particularly appreciated the closeness with professors who have been incredibly supportive and helpful to assist and guide us. The outcome was very positive and it largely balanced the difficult challenges you have to face in rescheduling your private and professional daily routine.

How the program changed your mindset?

It definitely made me more prepared and skilled since I had the opportunity to attend courses that I had never taken before, Statistics, Corporate Finance, Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Negotiation, just to mention a few, which allowed me to acquire a good applicable knowledge in all areas of business management. But more than that, having gained in self-confidence, the most relevant improvements involved my entire attitude and awareness towards my career and my role within my company, which enhanced my leadership skills and decision-making ability in times of uncertainty and fast changes. It’s really a mindset growth that you learn to tap into, inclined to reflection but oriented to practical problem-solving, strategically better focused and more able to deal with and solve complex relationships and business problems.

Family, work, study balance: what can you tell us?

As mentioned above, because of the great amount of time invested into classes, workshops, assignments, individual study and exams, it’s very complicated to manage your family and work as efficiently as usual: from this point of view, the EMBA experience can become a very disruptive and messy period of time in your life and it’s essential to be surrounded by people who support you and help you staying focused on your choices, efforts and goals. I have been lucky enough to have had a very cooperative family behind me, as well as a very comprehensive boss at work.

Would you suggest an EMBA to women? Why?

Definitely yes. By the way, I would recommend an EMBA to anyone, but I think it could be even more important for women. Unfortunately, it’s still very challenging for women to reach positions at the highest level of organizations, and when they do, their job is often times underestimated and this weakens their self-confidence, even when there are highly performing and it’s commonly known that their contribution is a great added-value for companies and society itself. It’s fundamental that women themselves engage into a change of mindset, share their experiences and acquire new tools to compete and struggle for it, and this is the powerful purpose that women can successfully fulfill through an EMBA.