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Riccardo Ocleppo, Docsity, Italy

If you could spend five minutes with anyone from the international education sector, who would it be and what would you ask them? Introducing The PIE’s latest series, Five Minutes With… where we speak to leaders from across the sector and ask them all the big questions


"The pace of change should really be quicker for higher education institutions"

Riccardo Ocleppo prides himself on his continued efforts as an entrepreneur in the edtech sector. Having founded Docsity for Italian students in 2010 as an online learning network, he expanded it in 2012 to serve the rest of the world. Now, he’s endeavouring to launch a whole new online institution – the Open Institute of Technology

What keeps you awake at night? 

All the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. So sometimes you go to bed very excited about what happened during the day and what’s coming up next. Other days, you are just so frustrated by things.

Best work trip?

I had an immersion week on the Chinese edtech sector in-country, and I was able to meet a lot of people from everywhere in the world – the cohort was made up of 20 people in the education sector from across the globe. We visited a lot of very, very interesting start-ups in the educational sectors in China, as well as listed companies, and met a lot of interesting people and got to know their market, which is very difficult to understand from the outside.

Most inspiring student you’ve met, helped or taught? 

There was this high school student in Italy, who was actually really practical, and reaching me out on LinkedIn and asked me for feedback about his career and what he aspired to do. We set up a few calls just to discuss his future, what it’s going to be like, the best educational option for him and what it was like to be an entrepreneur, and so on. So it was very intimate and private conversation. 

What do you like most about your job? 

I like the adrenaline. I like the potential of making a big impact on people. I like the uncertainty, which means that a lot can be achieved – but you have to be careful of the downside. 

“I like the adrenaline. I like the potential of making a big impact on people”

Who is a champion or cheerleader of the industry we should all follow? 

The person that is really an inspiration for me is the rector of OPIT, Professor Francesco Profumo. He’s a very institutional figure, and experienced in the industry. He’s just so forward thinking, and innovative – originally, I approached him simply to be the face and heart of the institute, but he helped us greatly with the educational model and all the aspects that could make the learning experience great for students. So he’s been an inspiration.

Worst food experience at a conference? 

Well it wasn’t part of the conference, but once we went to a restaurant – our entire cohort – I still remember having the jellyfish there for dinner. It really wasn’t very nice. 

If you had a magic wand, what would you change? 

The pace of change. It should really be quicker for higher education institutions and universities. It was good up until 20 years ago, but now, we continue to run the risk that we remain outdated. 

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