CEIBS and SDA Bocconi partner for food-focused alumni event in Milan
May 6, 2023. Milan, Italy – The CEIBS Alumni Italy Chapter partnered with SDA Bocconi to host an alumni networking event focused around food today.
Over 70 people joined the group in Milan to discuss the culture and business of food and drink in both Italy and China, with speakers shedding light on how Italian brands can adapt their products to suit the Chinese market.
The day began with an alumnus from SDA Bocconi and CEIBS, Michele Cassarino, setting the scene by explaining how the Italian food and beverage market differs from the Chinese market, identifying opportunities for food and drink companies, and outlining potential challenges. With a high percentage of Chinese food sales being made online (thanks to ecommerce giants like Alibaba and JD), the Chinese consumer varies wildly to the Italian consumer who is more likely to purchase in-store or at a food market.
Michele’s talk was followed by a talk from Professor Livio Zanini, who discussed a beverage that is integral to Chinese culture: tea. Professor Zanini shared the history and heritage of tea in an engaging talk that stretched back centuries.
Following his talk, the floor was handed over to Eastern Leaves, a company producing tea in China which is sold in Italy. Eastern Leaves’ founders joined the session online from their tea farm in Yunnan province in China, while their local market manager, Alice Vigano presented in person to the group at SDA Bocconi campus.
After the talks on tea, it was only fitting that the group was invited to taste some of Eastern Leaves’ tea during a short break. The group tasted Pu’er tea and other black teas, both warm and cold. Even those who are usually coffee drinkers were impressed.
A dynamic panel then discussed some of the challenges and successes their businesses have faced when entering the Chinese market. The panel was made up of Nicolas Fabbri, CEO at Fabbri G Holding Industriale SpA; Guglielmo Auricchio, Export Manager at Auricchio SpA; Diletta Balocco, Sales Specialist at Balocco; and Federico Tonello, Export Area Manager at Balocco. CEIBS Professor Siciliano moderated the session, asking many questions to the group before inviting the audience to pose their own questions.
“Food is an integral part of the culture both here in Italy and in China,” said Professor Siciliano. “The discussions were rich and the panel gave very valuable insights about breaking into the Chinese market and how to succeed there.”
By the end of the panel, the group was of course keen to eat and took lunch on the terrace of the SDA Bocconi campus in the Milanese sunshine. With alumni from both CEIBS and SDA Bocconi, as well as London Business School alumni in attendance, the lunch was a great opportunity for people to network, meet fellow food and beverage industry professionals and make new friends.
This event was organized by the CEIBS Alumni Italy Chapter and SDA Bocconi and was the first collaborative event between the schools’ alumni. CEIBS hopes to return the favour and host Bocconi alumni at one of our campuses in the near future!