June 13, 2016Brown University

21st Century Banking - Not Your Father’s Cadillac. An interview with Francesco Vercesi ’12

SPS interviewed Francesco Vercesi, SVP and Head of Group Stakeholder Insight at UniCredit, a major European banking group. We wanted to know why a banker would choose IE Brown over a traditional Executive MBA. Francesco explains how IE Brown morphs interdisciplinary, global and critical thinking into a high-impact executive business curriculum that prepares professionals to lead industries struck by the transformative effects of shifting regulatory environments, digital innovation and global expansion.

NOTE: Since this interview, Francesco was promoted to Head of Central Eastern Europe (CEE) Agile at Unicredit where he is driving this region’s adoption of Agile mindset and methodology to accelerate innovation and cross-country co-creation.

Why did you decide to get an Executive MBA at IE Brown?
I wanted to grow beyond my job growth potential and felt hungry for a new intellectual challenge. With IE Brown, it was love at first sight. IE is the leading business school in Europe for working professionals. I personally knew a number of IE graduates that had really impressed me.


As a European, you knew about IE’s outstanding reputation. Why Brown?
Brown stretches an Executive MBA degree beyond business by focusing on the value of diversity and cultural differences as well as global economic, social and political trends. These are the factors that grow businesses and create opportunities today.

What in particular did you enjoy about IE Brown?
Everything. The completely integrated liberal arts and traditional business management curriculum magically mixed with the amazing industry and international diversity in my cohort for a mind-expanding experience. The combined effect exponentially increased my ability to lead across cultural and knowledge boundaries and see the world through different lenses.

How has your IE Brown experience impacted your career?
The global, cultural and entrepreneurial skills that I developed at IE Brown are critical for fulfilling my new position at UniCredit where I lead Stakeholder Insight. In this function, I head the team responsible for listening to customers and employees and converting this feedback into guidelines for determining strategic processes and business decisions for the entire UniCredit banking group.

UniCredit has always been customer-centric, but the changes taking place in the banking industry has ratcheted up the importance of understanding our customers’ and employees’ experience.


Why does banking today demand greater stakeholder understanding?
A layperson might think of banking as a staid industry but it is nothing of the sort today. A complex web of new regulations, low interest rates and new technologies has forced banking to adopt a nimble and highly responsive structure to move into new markets with new services quickly and responsibly.

IE Brown gave me the analytic tools and framework to understand our stakeholders and convert their feedback into new revenue centers.

Any parting words to future IE Brown students?
IE Brown is the gift that keeps on giving. Between the amazing network of colleagues I acquired and the tools IE Brown gave me to relentlessly question and unpack what we at first might see as foreign, I have a stronger foundation to pursue new personal, intellectual and business challenges that will last me a lifetime.


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