Paolo Ruggeri, President of ACSI and BiG academy, and Ludovica Fiaschi, director of ACSI and BiG Academy, in this long interview tell how this prestigious academy of advanced managerial training came into being.

Ing. Ruggeri, how did BiG ‘Academy’ come about? What is the underlying vision that led to the birth of such an innovative project?
BiG Academy is the only advanced managerial training project in Italy that was created by the company for the company, conceived and implemented with the fundamental contribution of large corporations. Large corporations today have a great challenge and at the same time a great responsibility, namely that of committing themselves to the preservation and growth of supply chain companies, which are mostly SMEs and in many cases also family-run businesses that, while boasting excellent products and services, are unfortunately lacking in terms of managerial skills; special features of high added value and competitiveness, indispensable to successfully operate in a supply chain continuously exposed to the challenges of the global market. With the aim of contributing to the strengthening and growth of supply chain companies, thus creating evolved, integrated supply chains capable of competing, in 2019 a number of major companies in the energy, engineering, optics and IT sectors – Baker Hughes, El.En Group, KME, Leonardo, Thales – set up BiG Academy, a Management Academy based on peer learning, conceived and managed by ACSI (Association for Industrial Culture and Development) in collaboration with the University of Florence. During its first four years of life, 12 more companies from different sectors joined the Association, giving the BiG Academy project a much broader dimension than the original one. In fact, thanks to its innovative vision, the initiative has expanded rapidly: from a vertical project on supply chains, in a short time it has become a horizontal project involving different economic actors not only from the Tuscan regional territory, where this idea was born and proved to be successful, but from the whole country.

Dr Fiaschi, so what is the added value of your method?
It is a mixed and two-dimensional methodology because it involves teaching in pairs: representatives of the university world meet with top managers with proven business experience to transfer, with a synergic approach to future SME managers, all the specialist knowledge they need to increase their skills. The level of expertise is important to be able to all speak the same language, to be able to work as a system and, together, to keep the competitiveness of the Italian industrial sector high. The participants – now in ever increasing numbers, belonging to the most diverse economic sectors (bearing witness to the fact that BiG Academy is a project that adapts well to any industrial context) – experience different levels of learning in prestigious thematic areas (Governance, Internationalisation, Finance, Operations, Energy Transition and Digitalisation, Organisational Development). On one hand, good business practices find depth and breadth in academic models, on the other hand, theory is reflected in real-life examples and practical demonstrations. In conclusion, our model of advanced managerial training undoubtedly represents a great opportunity for SMEs to grow and prosper in their market of reference; to have the same level of managerial culture and the same business language as large enterprises; and not least to significantly increase the competitiveness of Sistema Italia by creating evolved and attractive supply chains.

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