The CEMS Global Alliance is a purpose led organization, powered by our beliefs that great leadership starts with self-leadership and societal progress requires continual exploration. In this series of interviews, we take a look at CEMS students and alumni that are contributing to make this world a more open, sustainable and inclusive world.

Humans of CEMS: Being the best for the world, not only in the world

Today, in our Humans of CEMS series, Matteo Grosso, former Student Board Representative and Founder of the CEMS Consulting Cup, gives valuable advice on how CEMS has shaped his thinking. He now dedicates himself to help young professionals to find purpose and strategize their life goals with his startup T1 Growth Academy that gives 5% of profits to social impact projects. 


1. You were working in the “corporate world” in the position of Senior Relationship Specialist at GLG. What motivated you to change the direction and to pursue the path of Leadership Coach and Podcaster?

The exposure to all the CEMS Corporate Partners motivated me to choose the corporate career when I graduated. I wanted to work for a multinational firm and I was fortunate enough to kick-off my career in Ireland. With time, I realized that I was getting more and more comfortable with my daily tasks. I went on a quest for what made me truly alive and I discovered my purpose: helping people unlock and unleash their potential. This goal could be accomplished in the corporate environment, but I knew that it would take time as I needed to become a manager if I wanted to support employees in their development. I wanted to initiate change immediately and on the day of my birthday I handed over my resignation.

Once you identify what you are passionate about, you want to do it constantly. Every minute you spend on doing something else, you ask yourself why you are wasting your precious time. Therefore, I know that this was the right decision.

2. Can you tell us more about the CEMS Consulting Cup [currently paused due to Covid] and what you have learned from  building this project from scratch?

That was a great lesson of leadership. A key takeaway is that whenever you are in the position of representing other people, you need to practice active listening and take their opinions and needs into high consideration. Otherwise, there is a risk of being self-centered and ignoring what the cohorts truly need.The CEMS community is extremely diverse, as we all come from different environments and cultures. I asked my cohort what their needs were and the answer was pretty clear: a business game to engage with Corporate Partners.

Once you take on a challenge, many ideas come to mind and sky's the limit. But then came the feasibility and the implementation. I had to consider the perspective of multiple stakeholders. To the students, the idea of a business game seemed cool, because they wanted to get a job, preferably in consulting. Companies, on the other hand, wanted to recruit top talents. My task as the coordinator of the CEMS Consulting Cup was to make this a win-win situation.

The second key takeaway is that, if you want to make great things happen, you need the right team. I was lucky to have the Student Board around me, who were questioning my decisions, giving constructive criticism, but also motivating and supporting me in pursuing the goal. I was the visionary – I had the idea, but I was lost in the details. The Student Board helped me shape the project to make it a reality.

 3. What is in your opinion a crucial aspect when initiating change?

In our private lives, there are 2 main factors: motivation and discipline. For the former one, you need to realize your initial standpoint and find out the direction you want to take. Changing is always painful, but if the pain of the problem is higher than the pain of change – people will initiate the change.

Discipline is very difficult to maintain, but it brings the best results. It’s important to understand that some changes cannot be implemented overnight. Only consistency enables you to turn your ideas into reality.

In the corporate world, it is the responsibility of the leaders to initiate change, but the success of implementation depends on the broader workforce. As the CEO you need to realize that you are the first one who fosters change, but your actions have to convince others to get involved and make it happen.

4. Has CEMS impacted your professional career?

CEMS has been the most impactful moment of growth in my life. The program has shaped my way of thinking. As you get the opportunity to work with people who are different, you gain a new perspective. When you are a student, the cognitive dissonance might get on your nerves, but you will realize the true value of it when you are older. Then in the workplace, you are better prepared for working in a team, you become more empathetic, respectful and open-minded.

CEMS works like a compass – it gives you values that will guide your actions.

I adhere to these values every day in my professional life. Since I am running an international coaching business, I know that if the coachees I work with bring a variety of perspectives and expertise, we can help all types of clients with various needs.

Diversity is perfectly pictured in the Greek word Deinos (δεινός). With its double meaning of terrible, producing fear and wondrous, marvellous, we can see that everything that is new or unknown is scary, but also beautiful. Thanks to CEMS you get the opportunity to work with other people and you learn how amazing it is to hear a different perspective.

The second value I would like to mention is servant leadership. While attending the graduation ceremony in Sydney, I discovered what CEMS is all about – “Being the best for the world, not only in the world”. We are taught how to lead so that, one day, we can initiate a change and make the word we live in better. It is fascinating that if you change just one world in the sentence, it can transform the whole meaning of your existence.


5. What would be your advice to future CEMS graduates?

The quality of our life is the quality of our relationships – I only learned later in life how crucial it is to have the right people around me. If you want to express your full potential, you need to cultivate relationships with people who fan your flames and let go of those who prevent your growth and do not deserve to be in your life. Learn today to practice active listening and understand what others are trying to tell you. Being interested in others makes you interesting to them. And trust me, we can learn so much from each other, especially if we are diverse. 

My second piece of advice would be to differentiate between the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment. If you are resilient in achieving your goal, you will not fail. But accomplishing the goal does not equal being happy. Happiness is very personal and subjective, and you cannot follow other people’s recommendations in this regard. Happiness is an art - we need to understand what sparks the light in ourselves and foster it.