First-Time Entrepreneur Launches Travel Startup Months Into LSE’s Alternative MBA

Farah Jawad is a seasoned traveler halfway through LSE’s Executive Global Master’s in Management. Adapting to advances in tech, she’s created her very own travel startup

From photography to fashion, every industry is being forced to adapt to technological advances. The mantra for this zeitgeist? Digitize or die.

London School of Economics (LSE) student Farah Jawad has a penchant for travel. The globe-trotting entrepreneur realizes her industry is no different when it comes to grappling with the demands of technology.

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For over 15 years, she has been invested in travel, graduating with a BA in Travel and Transport from the University of Lebanon in 2005, before launching a career as a product manager two years later for a Lebanese travel company.

After nearly 10 years with that company—a family owned business—she ended up landing a job with Middle East Airlines, the Lebanese national carrier. And the move was a breath of fresh air, opening Farah’s eyes to the need for the travel industry to digitize.

“Everything is going to be more digital and it’s changing,” she says. “I found myself in a small market, a family owned business, and I knew one day I’d wake up and find I have no job because the business is changing.

“I have to make a change now in order to go on with my career.”

The move to Middle East Airlines ignited a desire in Farah to create her own business; all she needed was the knowledge needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

Farah explains that she lacked the managerial skills to take her own venture forward. After window shopping for the right degree, she chose the Executive Global Master’s in Management (EGMiM) at the London School of Economics (LSE).

She needed a program that would allow her to work and study at the same time—two years out of industry for a traditional full-time MBA was simply too much to ask. The EGMiM at LSE is positioned to students as an alternative MBA and gave Farah the time to balance work and study.

While on the program, she founded travel networking and merchandising company, Tenth Freedom, in April this year—her very first business. The first-time entrepreneur says it is her aim to create a global network of travelers and teach them about the latest travel trends and the way technology is seeping into the industry’s veins.

“The travel business is moving in a different direction, so there’s a decision that each and every travel business and professional has to make,” Farah explains. “We are in the new digital world now, so if you want to book a service you refer to your phone or desktop. There’s no need for an office unless you’re looking for one.”

The Executive Global Master’s in Management was a key step toward creating the business, Farah explains. An online degree wouldn’t have cut the mustard.

Networking for Farah was an integral skill to be developed for her business. With plans for a global reach, a neat network can help her tap into multiple markets from a single hotspot.

“There is a lot of diversity in the classroom,” she says. “You have a lot of nationalities, and industry diversity too.”

Networking has helped Farah find a supplier for her merchandise—she was introduced to contacts in Sweden via a classmate. She’s befriended two classmates who run their own digital marketing companies and can help her hang her business on the walls of digital corridors the world over.

That’s all taken place in London alone. Ever the traveler, Farah’s desire to dive into new cultures and countries is also being satisfied by the Executive Global Master’s in Management.

Study and company trips to India and China will immerse her in the idiosyncratic business practices of emerging markets. “I work in travel, and believe you can always learn from other countries,” Farah asserts.

Her expectations?

“It’s an opportunity to see how other countries are processing and functioning,” she says, “so you have in front of you a direct experience of international business.”

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