Michelle Farber's MBA at The Lancaster University Management School ended on a high note when she set up her own communications and strategy firm right after graduating in 2011.
She's certainly not one to shy away from challenges. A former cyber security consultant at IBM, Michelle is also a running enthusiast and has completed six full marathons and six half-marathons.
Michelle, 30, grew up in the New York suburbs about 40 minutes north of Manhattan and graduated from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor with a BA in Psychology in 2003. Prior to joining The Lancaster MBA programme, Michelle spent seven years working in various marketing communications and strategy roles and most recently served as Managing Consultant for IBM’s U.S. Federal Cybersecurity and Privacy practice in Washington, DC.
For her central client, the Privacy Office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Michelle served as a strategic communications expert. In this capacity, she spearheaded the development and implementation of annual reports, nationwide social media communications plans, branding strategy and a five-year business plan for the Privacy Office’s senior management.
Michelle enjoyed the challenges of consulting for the U.S. Federal Government and was rewarded with an early promotion at IBM. However, she was thirsty for more learning, that could marry her desire to learn about international business management with her background in strategy and stakeholder engagement.
Michelle decided to pursue an MBA at Lancaster University in the UK, primarily because of its multi-disciplinary approach to understanding how to manage within complex business environments. She was especially interested in the way the programme fuses theoretical concepts with practical learning and its emphasis on understanding why and how people behave and make decisions.
During the one-year intensive MBA, Michelle especially valued her two international exchange programmes: first to the S.P. Jain School of Management in Mumbai, India and then to Peking University's Guanghua School of Management in Bejing, China.
The opportunity to learn about Indian and Chinese business through intensive cultural immersion was invaluable to Michelle and played an integral role in her overall MBA education. “I gained a unique perspective on how to conduct business within each country by being there and learning about economic growth, business trends, and consumer behavior from both educator and practitioner standpoints," she says.
"My takeaways from these action-oriented experiences superseded any knowledge I had gained purely from textbooks, and will continue to serve me throughout my career.”
The opportunity to compare and contrast educational experiences in the USA, UK, India and China has given Michelle insight into the intricacies of international business management. “The top-notch education I received from the Lancaster MBA, coupled with my studies abroad, have helped me to feel well-equipped to successfully tackle the many complexities involved in managing people, businesses, and processes in an increasingly diverse, complex, and unpredictable globalized world.”
Since graduating from The Lancaster MBA programme, Michelle has moved to London to leverage her prior management consultancy experience and MBA knowledge through the launch of Farber Strategies, her own consultancy that assists businesses with their marketing, communications and strategic business planning development and implementation. She has already partnered with a Malaysian information privacy and data protection consultancy that targets clients within the South East Asian markets, and is currently developing the business growth strategy and marketing communications plan for a London-based social media start-up.
“The Lancaster MBA has bestowed me with much more than a strong foundation of business management knowledge; it has provided me with the confidence to tackle any obstacle thrown in my path. I owe much of my success to the world-renowned faculty who taught me to always challenge the status quo, as well as to my bright and proactive classmates who continue to serve as an endless source of support.”
Michelle’s next running adventure is scheduled for March 1, 2012, when she will participate in Vertical Rush London, a race up 920 stairs of Tower 42 in London in support of Shelter, a housing and homelessness charity. Michelle has committed to raising £165 for this cause. If you would like to support Michelle and Shelter, please donate on her personal fundraising page.