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Darla Moore School of Business

Professional MBA student obtaining MBA to accelerate her financial services career

Moore School Professional MBA student Stefani Farmer decided to get her MBA so that she will be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to advance to a more senior executive role in the financial services industry.

Farmer is currently the director of annuity product management at TIAA financial services in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is frequently traveling for her job while also juggling family life raising a 5-year-old daughter.

When Farmer first looked into the Moore School PMBA program, she was intrigued by the flexibility of the program. Having the ability to complete her work on her own time and tune in to class remotely if traveling was a huge advantage.

“When I started looking into graduate programs, I was traveling extensively for work, and days were unpredictable,” Farmer said. “I needed a program that would support my career, not distract from it. The PMBA program at USC provides that flexibility and allows me to progress my education on my terms.”

This flexibility has allowed Farmer to create a schedule that works best for her and allows her to keep a healthy balance in her life between work, school and family time.

She said her days start early getting the house in order and everyone situated for the day. In the afternoon, she works on projects for work and listens to class material during breaks.

“On days that have class, I block my calendar, so I do not receive meeting invites for after 4:30 p.m., and that guarantees I have time to eat and see or speak to my family before class,” she said. “On days without class, I will work on homework, asynchronous material and studying after 7:30 p.m. during weeknights. I try to avoid work and class on the weekends as much as possible so that I have dedicated time to reset and spend with my family.”

Even though the days are long and hectic, Farmer said she knows that the only way to get to where she wants to be in her career is by getting her MBA.

“My decision to enroll in an MBA program was twofold,” she said. “As I look forward to where I want to be in 10 or 15 years, many of those roles list an MBA as desired as well as related experience. I assume that in the near future, an MBA will be required to make major strides in the financial services industry. I also have a long-term vision of teaching at the university level once I retire from financial services.”

Pursuing her goals of an executive position and one day a professor for financial services hasn’t been easy, and Farmer said she couldn’t do it without the support of her family and friends.

“To be successful in finding a balance between life, work and MBA coursework, your family and support system need to be invested and on board with you,” she said. “I am very lucky to have a husband, a boss and a company who are 100 percent supportive of my decision to start the PMBA program.”

Farmer said she is already seeing her hard work pay off. She said that the PMBA classes have helped guide her management style to align with leadership, and she now has much greater insight into why decisions are made at the executive level.

“I know if I take calculated steps now and through my career, I can stay on a track to reach all my future aspirations,” she said.

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