An exclusive look at the pan-European enterprise conference, inviting from 16 countries and 370 subsidiary confederations
Junior Enterprises Europe, a non-profit scope of over 270 organizations and 33,000 members across Europe, held its Spring Conference in Brescia, Italy. Bocconi’s branch, JEME, was the host of the event, the first in-person conference since the onset of Covid. With Tra i Leoni invited to cover the affair, we look to bring you the exclusive of being a participant of the event.
The forum took place at the Villa Fenaroli Hotel Palace, one of Lombardy’s most renowned villas of the 18th century. The Venetian Avogadro family decided to begin construction of the estate’s core in 1481; by the end of the centuries-long additions, the villa touts an elegant, Neo-Baroque style that dons the nickname “Little Versailles”. As one walks through the property, smooth interior and exterior stonework is supported by frescos, precise greenery and garden work. This is only underscored by the remote atmosphere, surrounded by the cast mountains and bounds of rolling hills. Such a location chosen by JEME elevates the stage for the 2 days of conferences and workshops.
Interview with Gianmario Verona
Upon arrival, the Opening Ceremony was set to commence within the hour. Tra i Leoni was provided the opportunity to interview Bocconi’s Rector, Gianmario Verona, for a few minutes prior to his speech.
“I have a great respect for JEME, for the wonderful, inspirational work that they do in the field of entrepreneurship, nurturing the importance of startup work in students… It is not taken for granted”.
As the world processes through the world’s current, intense climate, Rector Verona expressed his sight of opportunities as we push through struggles. As we work through such hardships, he explained, our focus and work in digital transformation, sustainability challenges, environment, social issues, and pollution “can create a lot of beautiful things”.
He further explained the importance of developing these traits—especially within the economic fabric of recent years. Being inspired to become an entrepreneur is at a forefront, and such can be additionally seen in the Bocconi for Innovation (B4i) program that supports students creating their own startups. He continued with affirmed optimism, noting the great team of panelists that awaited the students in coming days and wishing the best of the experience. We are the most global generation and digital natives — it is a matter of how we use our skills to impact the world.
Interview with Lidia Durbiano
After the Opening Ceremony, we spoke with Lidia Durbiano—president of JEME. In her final year of her Master of Science in International Management at Bocconi, her speech highlighted the mission to create a positive impact in today’s world. During our interview, Lidia expressed content enthusiasm for the event and advice for the future.
“You realize that you should always learn something from others…but at the same time it is always important to be authentic and not to change your personality based on the environment that is around you because it characterizes yourself and is the value you can bring”
Continuing, she explained how a company composed of all similar people would, consequently, have no added value. Diversity of backgrounds and experiences are a necessity, with attention to humanity and humility integral to one’s success.
Expanding further, Lidia noted how we are “back to a new normality that is based on in-person relationships…eye-contact relationships…physical relationships that are just not something you can do through video”. As relationship-building increases within such post-pandemic networking events, it is the goal that one’s sense of belonging progresses beyond JEME and beyond national boundaries—ultimately connecting humankind.
The second day consisted of several workshops where spokespeople and executives presented firms and their outlook on today’s world, panels of speakers discussed slews of topics and students raised final questions to speakers. The following is a highlight of several such companies and presentations:
Presented by Stefano Bennati, CEO of Europa Investimenti, the firm specializes in investments of special situations (non-operating companies, liquidation and bankruptcy, financial distress, and solvency). Acting as an aid for both creditors and the debtors, Europa Investimenti accelerates the years-long asset liquidation process by paying the lender immediately, purchasing a firm’s assets, and selling such assets for profit. Ultimately, it provides solutions to the complexity of bankruptcy law.
Presented by Raffaella Maderna, People and Communication Director of Lundbeck, the firm acts as a “global pharmaceutical company specializing in discovering and developing innovative treatments for brain diseases”. With over 7 million people treated, Lundbeck has been a spearhead of neuroscience research, commercializing and marketing its developments.
Phydigital – panel
Exploring the duality of today’s physical and digital worlds, Vice President Luca Fetter of Unicredit, Program Director Alberto Uberti of Fin+Tech, and HR Manager Lavinia Pontigia of Heritage discussed entrepreneurship in our evolving world. A common thread amongst panelists was the acknowledgement of tech advances, but also the need for soft skills, flexibility, and unique traits that are irreplicable in a digital sense; when it comes to AI, business experts are in great demand to help analysts. After raising the question of what the biggest challenge for startups in today’s world would be, Uberti expanded on the importance of fostering a startup-culture, creating internal flexibility, and developing synergy by effectively uncovering talent remotely despite difficulties.
Presented by Vincenzo Marino, CCO and co-founder of BuildNN, the firm provides strategic and operational solutions for data cleansing—combatting the unnecessary tasks that take 80% of data scientists’ time and instead allowing them to perform analysis rather than repetitive machine-work. BuildNN prides itself in ethical profiling, not allowing opaque methodology or intrusion-based collection but instead allowing firms to identify its own interaction with customers.
City of the Future – panel
With a focus on “smart cities”, CEO Renato Mazzoncini of A2A, Architect and Professor Stefano Mirt at IdLabi and Politecnico di Milano respectively, and CEO Barbara Cominelli of JLL Italy discussed adaptations to the world in terms of tech and culture. Traits of such “smart cities” revolve around sustainability; these cities are aligned with indigenous resource sourcing rather than imports, 5G adaptation, more digital and public infrastructure, green-spaces, services, accessibility in transport (e.g., Italy being the only country in the world with an extremely competitive train services system—benefiting the population), and refined hardware to sustain the city’s software. Education, imagination, and vision is what generates this new network, allowing human innovation and talent to propel forward. Thus, smart cities often grow exponentially, as tech companies, talent, and the general population look to benefit from the increased quality of life, connections, and polycentric city.
With a primary focus in the technology approach, Heritage associates presented the mission to “Become the leading platform globally—connecting elite families and entrepreneurs with the world’s top performing private markets opportunities, in a technology-first way”. The investment platform began in 2017 and is composed of 30 members, many of which were former JEME alumni. With differentiating factors of 0 management fees and advisors with expertise with key industry players, Heritage looks forward to expanding in its reach.
Presented by Andrea Pinto, President of Vision and listed under Forbes 30 under 30, the non-profit aims to provide solutions to students who may not have family mentorships—only a limited network that may limit them in the business and entrepreneurial field. Providing training and personal growth, Vision helps the development of soft skills, alleviates financial burdens for students, and provides exclusive internship opportunities.
Lastly, during intermissions and networking periods we spoke with numerous students from a variety of backgrounds. From Portugal to the Netherlands and France, we had the chance to speak to students from several countries, as well as numerous JEME members. Finance, management and business were not the exclusive majors of participants, in fact studies ranged from pharmaceuticals to mechanical engineering. Moreover, firms and projects ranged in scope; one delegation had explained a recent project with the repurposement of aircraft to create prosthetics.
We took a general poll to the students — inquiring what they believe is the greatest issue facing our generation today. Receiving a wide range of answers, participants responded in different widths, from the individualized viewpoint to a global outlook. One of the greatest points was the impact of the digitalization of the world, wherein we are “too connected” online, losing parts of humanity to the addictions of social media. Such transitions to the space of mental health, where students noted the needed recognition and attention. Sustainability was a prime focus for many, with climate change and methods of adapting our technology to curb pollution being a forefront. Others took an economic approach, citing the housing crisis, student debt and proliferation of business and entrepreneurial opportunities for all.
That being said, each explanation was permeated with the concept of a need for change. As we process through our career paths and continue to network in similar events that bring together innovation, it is through our individual work to collectivized efforts that we can truly make an impact, bringing face to humanity as a whole.
Interviews by Shelby Carter and Stefanos S. Pappas