Gianluca Bisceglie Founder and CEO of spreadsheet automation platform Visyond outlines how his MBA from London Business School, changed his career path and helped him set up his own business
Explain your current role
I am the Founder and CEO of Visyond, a cloud-based spreadsheet automation platform that I created to enhance the way people make decisions based on spreadsheet data.
Prior to starting up the company I worked in private equity in the Middle East and Russia, and was responsible for the identification, screening and execution of investment opportunities in various industries.
My business idea came about as I was trying to solve problems with spreadsheets that had frustrated me for many years – the complexity and unnecessary hours spent doing routine tasks manually and chasing errors, the cumbersome collaboration and leaking of sensitive data. Technology was improving the landscape of our jobs in so many areas, I knew there had to be a better way to work with spreadsheets than simply Excel plus add-ons plus powerpoint, which had been the status quo for around 20 years.
What began as a hobby coding project turned into a viable business option.
When and where did you achieve your MBA?
I completed my MBA at London Business School in 2007, after gaining an MEng in electronics engineering from the Polytechnic of Turin.
What is the most interesting thing you learnt from your MBA?
As my first degree was in electronics, most of the MBA subjects augmented my professional experience or exposed me to fields and concepts I did not know before.
The more technical skills and specific vocabulary I gained, the more it became obvious to me that leaders can’t rely only on these skills to make decisions.
The MBA prepares you to talk with anybody, sharing the basics of their language and field of expertise so that you can draw meaningful conclusions and try to make informed decisions. It makes you feel confident you can understand what other professionals have on their agenda and humble realising the world is not a one-man show.
Also, it shows you that your job as a leader is to be an enabler, a chief psychology officer to make the most of any expertise and personality at the table. The study group work was essential for this, providing a safe environment to problem solve with high-calibre business leaders, some of whom became good friends.
As much as I found the technical knowledge interesting, I believe the most insightful thing I learnt is that frameworks, textbooks and people don’t have all the answers. For example, the case study discussions proved time and time again that it’s easy to pass judgement in hindsight but that it is normal, even for the most gifted humans, to struggle with business (and life) decisions.
How has the MBA made a difference to your career path and leadership journey?
The MBA changed my life. It was a journey of self-discovery that made me question everything ever since. After the MBA, I changed industry and geography, and within a few years I’d set up my own business – I met the first investors thanks to the London Business School community.
It is difficult to build and lead multicultural teams – especially when they are not all in the same office – and without the knowledge, the stamina and the personal mastery acquired during those years of hard work and study for the MBA, it would have been much more difficult for me from a leadership perspective.
I am very happy when I can share my experience and help people with their career and business decisions. After the MBA, I started teaching and mentoring – the MBA gave me the confidence to do this.
Maybe because a top MBA is a thought through choice and comes at an age when you are more aware of the way the world works, the things you learn, the networks and friendships you build are usually going to accompany you for the rest of your life.
Gianluca Bisceglie is Founder and CEO of Visyond www.visyond.com