MiM to CEO | Bocconi University Grad launches the first brand of climate-neutral sneakers

Carl Warkentin started his sustainable sneaker business as a hobby during his master’s degree at Bocconi University. Today, he is CEO of Monaco Ducks, the first climate-neutral sneaker brand.

Carl worked in his native Germany, the United States, and traveled to South America after his undergraduate business degree. He has completed internships in consulting, product management and business development roles at multinationals like L’Oreal and Voith.

Despite his dynamic start to his career, Carl wanted to hone his management skills and embark on a new adventure.

He enrolled at Bocconi University MSc in International Management, eager to see where his business school journey would take him.

Bocconi MiM | Learning from multicultural perspectives

Bocconi University’s two-year Master in Management is ranked first in Italy and 16th globally by the Financial Times. 98% of Bocconi MiM students land exciting new jobs within a year of graduation and 78% on graduation day.

Carl recalls the benefits of studying in Milan during his freshman year, where he was joined by a cohort of multicultural students. Students at Bocconi University come from over 100 countries around the world and Carl has been able to learn from a range of different experiences, cultures and ideas.

“I chose to study at Bocconi for two reasons,” he explains. “First of all, I knew that the university had an excellent program which was well recognized. And second, I wanted to study in a city that I felt comfortable in and that excited me.

“Traveling abroad before my master’s program really encouraged me to want to step out of my comfort zone, so that I could learn to bridge different cultures,” he says.

Even today, Carl uses his Bocconi experience to drive the Monaco Ducks forward, communicating with different companies across Europe to create his durable shoes.

Most of its sneakers are handmade in Italy, in a traditional, family-run factory. Monaco Ducks also partners with a factory in northern Portugal, which uses vegan materials to make the sneakers.

Monaco Ducks produces net greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing process and with every sale the company contributes to the protection of the environment, making the whole company 100% carbon neutral and climate neutral , according to the Monaco Ducks website.


Bocconi CEMS MiM | Get out of your comfort zone

After studying management fundamentals in his first year in Italy, Carl decided to join the one-year CEMS MiM program in his second year.

Bocconi University is one of the founding members of CEMS MiM, a global program with 33 partner universities and approximately 70 partner companies. Bocconi MiM students who complete the CEMS pathway in their second year receive both the CEMS MiM Diploma and the Bocconi MiM.

The CEMS MIM program is offered to Bocconi MiM students who can speak at least three languages. Once registered, you receive additional courses, you travel abroad and you have the opportunity to be trained by companies during real consultancy projects.

Carl chose to study in Hungary, at Corvinus University in Budapest. “Studying in another city really helped shape my mindset,” he says. “I was able to approach a project as a consultant in a team full of international minds, which really helped to motivate me and gain self-esteem.”

Given a lot of responsibility at a very young age, Carl’s ability to take on new projects and step out of his comfort zone was crucial to the success of his sustainable sneaker business, he says.

After graduating, Carl returned to work at German manufacturer Voith. Put in charge as organizer of a new corporate division of 1,600 employees, he worked on the digitization of the company’s manufacturing processes.

But Carl became disenchanted after his rapid rise up the corporate ladder. He wondered if he should bite the bullet and launch his new sustainable sneaker business.

“Monaco Ducks started as a hobby during my time at Bocconi,” he recalls. “At the time, everyone was laughing at the co-founder and myself, because no one really wanted to have a sustainable product.

“But I wanted to innovate in the industry and make it more sustainable. Once our project gained enough momentum, I took the opportunity and quit my job.

MiM to CEO | Building the ducks of Monaco

When choosing between business schools for its MiM, Bocconi University also stood out above Carl for its teaching of business strategy.

When Carl took Bocconi’s mandatory course in business strategy, he was able to work on business strategies for real international companies.

“In one of our projects, I worked on a growth strategy for an Italian car-sharing company,” he recalls. “My team chose to grow the business through a broader product offering and to expand the business internationally.”

Now, Carl uses those same strategy skills and knowledge he learned at Bocconi when building his own company. Monaco Ducks currently operates on a small scale in Germany, but Carl plans to scale his business to become a global brand.

With his sustainable and eco-friendly sneaker startup, he hopes to challenge established brands and change the fashion industry for the better.

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