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Stories from Abroad Undergraduate | Jun 09, 2020 |

First-Year Ground Floor Students Participate in Unique Learning Initiative in Monaco

By Marianne Fulgenzi

A week-long schedule of events with business leaders and dignitaries in Monaco offered Ground Floor students a unique opportunity, thanks to Gabelli School Advisory Board member Andrea Mennillo and his wife, Brunella.

Select Gabelli School Ground Floor freshmen participated in an exceptional experiential learning initiative in the Principality of Monaco that provided a first-hand, close-up look at the impact of geo-politics in areas such as business, religion and environmental sustainability.

In January, a week-long schedule of events, activities and meetings with business leaders and dignitaries was created and curated by Gabelli School Advisory Board member Andrea Mennillo, founder and managing director of IDA Capital, Ltd., London, a European company active in business diplomacy and infrastructure projects. Mennillo and his wife, Brunella, hosted the students and staff, and personally accompanied them on excursions throughout the week.

Kelly Ann Ulto, assistant clinical professor of accounting and course instructor at the Gabelli School, called the trip “a great capstone to our class and an amazing experience for our students.”  

She noted that the Gabelli School shares with Monaco a commitment to the importance of environmental sustainability in business, stating that “the most impactful part of the trip was to hear how businesses are actually implementing and addressing the topics that we read about in class.”

“Monaco has ambitions to become one of the most sustainable places on the planet,” Ulto said, following a meeting with Olivier Wenden, director of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, who spoke about the foundation’s dedication to environmental protection and promotion of sustainable development on a global scale. “Businesses in Monaco are dedicated to meeting the needs of all their stakeholders while maintaining profitability,” Ulto added.

Prior to the trip, Ulto prepared the students by teaching them about the concepts of a sustainable business and Monaco’s culture. During the trip, she led daily debrief discussions with students and meted out assignments in preparation for the next day’s presentations.

An extensive agenda “provided an interesting and enlightening immersive business experience,” said Trey Albani, BS ’23, one of the student attendees. Events and activities ranged from a private mass celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Barci, a discussion of Monaco’s distinctive economic and financial structure led by Minister of Finance Jean Castellini, and a presentation by CEO Agnes Falco, of UBS Monaco, on the future of finance driven by developments in Fintech and the role of women in business.

The students also met with His Excellency Marco Casiraghi, a devoted advocate for sustainability in science, engineering and business, and several prominent business leaders, including Guy-Thomas Levy Soussan, and Regis Adeline, the administrator and the director of Anse du Portier, a company overseeing Monaco’s land extension project committed to maintaining sustainability and preserving the natural ecosystem of the area. Emanuele Lauro, CEO of Scorpio Tankers, Inc., explained the challenges and risks of expanding a business globally as well as strategies for success, and Lia Riva, president of Monaco Boat Services, presented the future of sustainable yachts and led a tour of the famed Port Hercule.

Gabelli School of Business freshmen from both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses participated in an experience that provided them with a vast knowledge about global business, specifically Monaco, the Monegasque culture, and its role in business throughout Europe.

A visit to the Royal Palace included a tutorial on the history of Monaco and the Royal Grimaldi family from Palace Curator James Fouilleron. And former Monegasque Ambassador to Italy, Henri Fissore, and current Italian Ambassador, Cristiano Gallo, discussed how both countries are working together on shared initiatives.

Overall, the trip provided rare access to some of Monaco’s most prestigious and influential civic and business leaders and left an indelible impression on the student attendees. 

“The trip helped me see the business world and myself in it for the first time,” Daven Roberts, BS ’23, said. “I was able to gain a perspective at an international scale and, because this was my first full immersion into the professional world, it will shape how I enter and sustain my career.”

Richard Torres, ‘BS ‘23, mentioned that he has “come away with a greater understanding of the similarities and interconnectedness of most countries across the globe.” And, Faye Wang, BS ’23, noted that the trip “gave me an opportunity to practice what we are taught in the classroom and apply it to the real world, while allowing me to envision what it would be like to participate in international business in my future career.”

Albani summarized the experience echoed by other attendees: “We began to understand the importance of giving back to the community and future generations, and the responsibilities we have as future compassionate business leaders.”

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