Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?.
I am Francesca Checchinato and I have been teaching marketing at Ca' Foscari for about 14 years. My courses focus mainly on business communication, especially through digital channels, which have become fundamental in recent years and have overtaken the more traditional ones. I teach a subject that is constantly evolving and this is a challenge: teaching an approach and a method that can be used even if the students at the end of their course will be faced with something different from what was discussed in the classroom. My research is consistent with the courses I have been assigned and focuses on brand management and external communication. Over the years, my studies have focused on international marketing strategies, especially the Chinese market, and the marketing strategies of agrifood companies.
What's an area you have always wanted to be involved in but have not yet had the opportunity to explore?
There are so many interesting areas in management and marketing that there isn't just one I haven't dealt with yet but would like to. I'd be interested in learning more about performance measurement, especially in light of the insights that can be gathered through the web. I believe that measuring tasks and being aware of the results of actions taken is fundamental.
What are you most passionate about in your research?
Close contact with local communities and the chance to see different companies, with which I can discuss their needs in terms of research and development of tools and models that can support them and help them grow sustainably. This is also possible with the help of the Agrifood Management & Innovation lab, which I founded with Christine Mauracher, Vladi Finotto and Isabella Procidano, and which has an interdisciplinary group of researchers that we can work with to develop basic and business-oriented research. When you realise that you have passed on something, that you have produced something valuable for those who are to benefit from it, it is rewarding.
What do teaching and researching mean to you?
Research and teaching are two things that need to be linked because in this way, knowledge can be shared comprehensively, the reasons for and the constraints on a particular theory, its critical aspects and strengths compared to other theories can be better understood. You can also provide innovative ideas for discussion, based on current research. Research means study, discussion with colleagues and companies, which in my field of research are among the main beneficiaries of the results. I believe that working in a team, being in several research teams where everyone contributes their expertise and is enriched by that of the others, is fundamental. Teaching is a different task, requiring great involvement and energy, which are necessary to do it well. It can be very fulfilling, but you need to be up-to-date not only on the topics you cover in the classroom, but also on teaching methods. With the Department of Management we try to experiment as much as possible. For instance, we have created the Experior courses, where students work on real company projects, defined by the very companies on the basis of their critical issues. Companies get involved to support students, and students apply what they learn.
Which degree programme would you recommend to a young graduate and why?
My answer can only be biased because I am not in a position to judge degree programmes in other scientific fields. What I can say is that our companies often manufacture excellent products that are not, however, presented to potential customers correctly or are not promoted by coordinated marketing activities. I believe that there is a great need for professionals who can support them, especially in typical Made in Italy industries such as food, fashion and furniture. In spite of marketing stereotypes and misperceptions - all too often seen only as the final piece, unrelated to the development of the product itself and its distribution channels, which are part of it - to work in this field you need to know how a company operates, its internal processes and its relation with the market. I believe that basic programmes such as Business Administration can be a good stepping stone to specialise with a Master's Degree.