The Double Degree with Fudan Made Giulia's Career SkyrocketGIULIA ZANZI WAS THE VOICE OF MILLENNIALS IN TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION AND WOMEN'S HEALTH AT THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
She launched Clearblue in emerging markets like Russia, Mexico, Brazil and China, making it the most widespread pregnancy and ovulation test in the world. Then, thanks to the joint venture of Procter&Gamble with Abbott Group, she started working for Swiss Precision Diagnostic in Geneva, coordinating projects like the Clearblue Connected Ovulation Test System. This is a hormone detection system that applies digital innovation to scientific research, enabling people to monitor fertility through an app. Thus Giulia Zanzi, a Bocconi graduate with a double degree at Fudan University in China, is capable of juggling management, innovation, and artificial intelligence. That mix of knowledge, reflections and issues formed the basis for her speech at the latest Annual Meeting of the New Champions, the summer meeting of the World Economic Forum.
➜ How did you arrive at Davos?
Through Global Shapers, the community of the World Economic Forum that gathers talented young people from all over the world who are working on projects having a major local impact. I am part of the Geneva hub and was invited to represent the Millennials’ perspective in the field of technological innovation applied to women's health.
➜ What was said on that occasion?
The event was very stimulating: many ideas emerged; we tried to provide answers about the near future. For example, we asked ourselves about the interaction between humans and AI: machines will increasingly take on tasks that today are performed by humans, but they will never replace people’s soft skills and their critical ability to analyze big data. My contribution mainly dealt with gender issues and there was no lack of uncomfortable questions from the floor, the kind that instill doubt in those who are chosen to lead companies and countries.
➜ Your first time in China was exactly ten years ago for the Double Degree in International Management organized by Bocconi in collaboration with Fudan University. What did that experience mean for your?
Bocconi gave me an extraordinary opportunity: obtaining two degrees in one fell swoop, one in Italy and one in China. I had never thought I’d ever go there. At the time, the program was still in its experimental phase and we were selected to be the first ones to test it, with all the attendant unknowns.
➜ What motivated you to apply?
A strong desire to discover the future: already then, it was said that Shanghai would be to the 21st century what New York was to the 20st century.
➜ What did it give you in terms of career advantage?
A very solid network of personal connections overcoming differences in culture and industries of operation, which still constitutes a valuable source for comparison and discussion. And competitive advantage for my job advancement: it enabled me to become a manager well ahead of many of my peers. An example was the launch of Clearblue in China, a product that became market leader in a very short time: I knew the unwritten rules on which Chinese culture is based, something which proved to be a fundamental asset for successfully entering the country’s market for pregnancy tests.
➜ In addition to being able to interpret Chinese cultural behavior and social dynamics, which skills did the Bocconi Double Degree give you?
Flexibility, resilience, and openness, the very skills that are sought by companies today.
➜ Are there any golden rules that you would like to share with students?
First of all, get out of your comfort zone and deal with experiences that seem beyond your reach, like going to live abroad to study and work. Then, train yourself for constant education without focusing on a specific skill because the required skills change very quickly and you have to learn how to update them just as quickly. The third rule is passion: choose what you find to be the most exciting degree, rather than what’s popular at the moment, so that it becomes an integral part of your life. Create relations of excellence with people with whom you can have quality exchanges, and experiment with new market areas without being afraid of failure: in this respect, hackathons and digital marathons are good training.
by Ilaria De Bartolomeis
Translated by Alex Foti