International Women's Day Series – The MBA Director Motivated by Impact

5 Mar 2019

A decade ago, Dr Nicole Hartley had no idea she would end up as a mover and shaker in the academic world. This vivacious corporate climber was working at a big agency in the UK and had just landed what she thought was her dream job at a glamorous multinational firm.

It wasn’t until her boss retired after years of loyal service and only received a token gold watch that Nicole changed direction in search of having a bigger direct impact on people’s lives.

Fast-forward to now and Dr Hartley works as the new Master of Business Administration (MBA) Director at the University of Queensland Business School and has worked on a variety of impactful research projects including telehealth, consumer psychology and virtual services.

What are three words that describe yourself?

Enthasiastic, passionate and perceptive. 

How do you define success?
For me, success is a moving target. I see success as enabling and inspiring people to transform themselves and create change for society and business. So, if I get an email once a day saying a student or alumni achieved a goal or got an interview for their dream job, that to me is a measure of success – when you’ve had an impact on someone’s life.

Why do you think education is so important in advancing a woman’s career?
Overall women have innate capabilities and characteristics that are perfect for management roles, we’re great negotiators and fantastic at critical thinking. We’re also good at problem-solving, thinking on the fly and networking.

Education is important because it allows us to marry the capabilities that we naturally possess with contextual capabilities, skills and understandings that a business leader needs.

Ongoing learning through programs such as an MBA or Executive Education course is also about your transformational journey and that personal development within. It allows you to understand yourself better and pull out those skills that are really valuable and take it into a business context and apply it.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
From all the reports I’ve read including a recent one with over 3000 respondents, the biggest barrier to female’s stepping up to leadership roles is confidence. Not to say that we’re vulnerable; however, I think we take for granted that we have these innate leadership skills and we don’t communicate them well. We tend to think it’s an uncomfortable thing for us to articulate something that is naturally occurring, but we need to embrace it and harness it.

Interested in creating change in your career with a UQ MBA? Find out more:

Media: Dr Nicole Hartley, 7 334 68022 or  Emma Pryor, UQ Business School Communications,, +61 7 3346 4506