MBA@UNC Graduate: Kristen Fanarakis

Kristen Fanarakis was ready to make a change. An aspiring writer with an interest in fashion, she built a career on Wall Street working in foreign exchange. After 12 years, she decided the time was right to leave the corporate world, write a book and figure out what came next. A big part of her master plan was to earn an MBA. “Most people get their MBA and then go to Wall Street,” she jokes. “I’m kind of an odd bird.” “I’ve always had entrepreneurial aspirations,” she says. “I wanted to open my own business, but I didn’t really have a business background. I knew in order to be successful, I needed to round out my education.” A UNC graduate, Fanarakis learned about the MBA@UNC program through an alumni email. “The timing was right,” she says. “I was trying to write in New York, but found it too distracting."

"The flexibility to live and learn wherever I wanted really appealed to me. Plus, I love the fact that it makes me a double Carolina graduate.”

“I think when you hear the words ‘online,’ what instantly comes to mind is something kind of disconnected,” Fanarakis says. “A common misperception is that you are given the coursework and assignments and that you’re on your own — that you become more or less just a consumer of the information.” “With this program, that wasn’t the case. I was really impressed by the level of interactivity. With the live classes, everyone is on the front row — you can’t check out and you can’t hide — because of the format I think you really get more from your professors.” She is closer to her classmates than she would have been in an on-campus program, she says.

“I was surprised by the close relationships I developed. It was kind of serendipity.”

Fanarakis is excited to explore what lies ahead after graduation. Done with the corporate world (for now), she is looking forward to publishing book and pursuing her dream to start her own company. “MBA@UNC helped me achieve my goal of finding my own path. I now have the tools to get where I need to go. I learned more than I’ve ever expected, and I’m really excited by the prospect of using my degree to drive my dream.”