University Internationalization

From the Heart of Milan to the Four Corners of the World

, by Andrea Celauro
The constant presence of alumnae and alumni around the world has played an important role in the University's internationalization strategy. Community members promote Bocconi’s values in their local areas and give a lifeline back to the community

A journey that began in 1906, with the creation of ALUB – the first association of Bocconi graduates – which has transformed into the Bocconi Alumni Community of today. The community is a network of alumnae and alumni that boasts over 145,000 members all over the world, organized into 75 chapters and 13 topic groups. The community’s activity is led by Silvia Candiani – Bocconi alumna and Vice President of Telco and Media at Microsoft – and is based on four pillars: lifelong learning, networking, career advice and 'giving forward', or the idea of creating a bridge between generations, for example through support for new students.

The community is a proper army of ambassadors who promote the values of both the University and association, and who are fundamental in the University's internationalization strategy. As Antonella Carù, Dean for Development and Alumni Relations, points out: “The community has always played a very important role for the University; it is a building block that has made intergenerational solidarity its distinctive value. In addition to fostering the development of professional and personal relationships among its members, the community is active in many crucial areas – from fundraising and students’ support, to the development of mentoring activities. It has supported the University in the internationalization process, facilitating placement opportunities and initiatives dedicated to attracting the finest international students.” At the same time, the internationalization of the university has led to the establishment of new chapters all over the world. In this way, a continuous exchange of energy is created between the alma mater’s Milan campus and the chapters in the area that “give a lifeline back to the whole community with their activity,” Carù concludes.

Voice of the Chapters: From New York...

Francesca Coloni is a 1997 CLEFIN graduate whose thesis with Donato Masciandaro centered on money laundering at a time when digital payments were first emerging. She has been living and working in New York for ten years now, after having lived in both London and Madrid. In the Big Apple, she is currently COO of Citi's US Personal Banking Analytics division, which is responsible for the bank’s data analytics. Her bond with the Bocconi Alumni Community was already strong in Madrid, where she was treasurer of the local chapter, but now – after being at the forefront for a few years – she has become leader of the New York chapter. “In our chapter, we count on a pool of about 200 active alumnae and alumni,” she says. The impact of their work, in a hectic city with a high turnover like New York, is measured precisely in the career service activities, where “we were among the first to launch a mentorship program, for which we have already matched about 20 pairs of mentors and mentees.” So much so that now they would like to do 'the opposite', that is, “launch a reverse mentorship program, where it is the junior figures who support the more senior ones, at times giving a more refreshing take on certain angles of the activities.” The idea is “to create a bond between the young and the not-so-young, to proactively connect the various generations so that everyone feels at ease,” as Francesca explains.

… From Dublin...

Speaking of connections, it is Silvia Cocciolillo  Leader of the Dublin chapter since 2021 and EMEA Regional Lead – who underlines the significant influence and importance that the Bocconi communities exert on the local area, thanks precisely to the chapter's activity. “In Ireland community members are mostly from the tech, finance, legal and startup sectors,” explains Silvia, a 2016 CLES graduate. Splitting her time between the University of Sydney and University College Dublin, she also graduated from the CEMS MSc in International Management, and today she is Strategic Agency Manager at the EMEA Google headquarters. “We created a platform made up of people united by a strong sense of belonging, and fostered collaborations across sectors.” Turning her gaze to all the other European chapters, she says, “We are seeking to consolidate more and more connections among alumnae and alumni from different countries, weaving a network of exchange, stimulation and collaboration that fosters the professional and personal growth of all.” Cocciolillo highlights another important aspect of having a strong presence in the area: “The community multiplies and amplifies the sense of bonding in the city and country in which we live.” She continues, “An example for everyone: on the one hand, we have held various events with the Italian Ambassador and Embassy in Ireland, and – on the other – with the Italian Cultural Institute. These occasions have contributed to strengthening the ties between our country of origin and the one in which we live and work.” 

…From Shanghai

It is here that Stefano Ortolina has been living and working for almost 15 years now, “that is, immediately after graduating in economics and management.” Stefano is a Partner at Infinity Group, a packaging company for the luxury sector, and has been leader for a couple of years although he has been on the board of the Shanghai chapter for much longer. In recent years, he has seen the impact of having an active alumnae and alumni group in the area evolve. “Our Shanghai chapter is now the largest in Asia,” says the alumnus. "In addition to the deep relationships and connections that are made by the very fact of having shared the same alma mater, other very important ones are created with the local area.” An example for everyone, “are the excellent relations with the Consulate General of Italy in Shanghai, the Italian Chamber of Commerce, and other various institutions in addition to Italian companies operating in the area, such as Technogym and Golden Goose among many others – together with whom we recently held some dedicated events for our alumnae and alumni.” More generally, Stefano points out, “through some of the activities carried out, our group acts as a sort of facilitator for the education and continuous learning of alumnae and alumni along with the general community that gravitates to this area.”

Therefore, the Bocconi communities play an important role in bringing Bocconi to the world – including career service activities, continuous learning, and the creation of connections between community and territory. It is a role that only a widespread presence on all continents can ensure.


Translated by Rosa Palmieri