Passion is the indispensable fuel for reaching targets, especially in the mid- to long-term. It’s the thing I most appreciate about the people I work with.” Another famous dictum of Enzo Ferrari? It could be, but it’s not: these are the words of a recent ‘graduate’ of the Ferrari Executive MBA programme, a relatively new addition to the Prancing Horse’s stable of training activities for the company’s future top-line managers. The programme – in its second year – aims not only to impart the full educational experience of an executive master to employees, but also to break down barriers in the company by bringing together colleagues from different divisions.
In the classroom, ‘students’ get to know each other, learn about their respective activities and share the challenges of their different roles. In the latest 12-month edition, some 40 mid-level managers took part in the EMBA, which included ‘typical’ classes in subjects like Corporate Finance and Operations&Supply Chain, as well as courses such as Next Production Revolution and Design Innovation & Sustainability – tailored to the needs of a special company like Ferrari.
Classes – which take place two times a week – are taught at the Bologna Business School (part of the University of Bologna), whose lecturers’ preparation is of the highest level. Then, of course, there is home study, some 10-12 hours per week (on top of the job). “It’s like a Navy SEALs training programme,” jokes Michele Antoniazzi, Ferrari chief human resources officer. Aside from class time and studies, students also take field trips to companies like LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton and Brunello Cucinelli. As a maker of luxury goods, Ferrari sees in these visits opportunities to teach its managers about best practice in the industry whilst also giving them a broader perspective on how things work beyond the confines of Maranello.
‘Leadership scrum’ talks by people who have reached the apex in their respective fields are also a key component of the Master’s programme. In the past edition, such talks were held by, amongst others, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and top basketball coach Ettore Messina. Each brings personal experience to the ‘classroom’, giving outside-the-box ideas and food- for-thought moments. In her much-admired talk, Cristoforetti said that whilst right-place-at-the-right- time luck is important, to succeed you need to seize the moment, you have to make your own luck. “It was useful as a discussion on the topic of interaction among the different components of a group in an out-of-the-ordinary context,” remarked one participant.
Messina’s ‘scrum’ focussed on team dynamics, and was described as “a great inspiration,” with one student pointing out that it is “always useful to see how there is a strong similarity between managing a group of colleagues and managing a sporting team.” Whilst the EMBA is perhaps the highest profile Ferrari educational initiative, it is not the only one: the company already has a scuola dei mestieri (‘skills school’) – run with the help of some 100 internal teachers, to impart critical manufacturing skills – and offers other education programmes.
The Ferrari EMBA is not limited to itself; it is part of a pathway which sees ‘graduates’ continuing with their in-house education by taking, for example, coaching courses that will help them apply their newly-learned skills. Investing in continuous education, on the job, is crucial to long-term success – something Enzo Ferrari himself understood perfectly. Which is why the company has consistently anticipated the future, and has always focussed on making sure its employees are in the position to foretell it.