Student Q&A: Finance professional and family man, Kabalan Farah aims to broaden his skill set in GBJ
Updated: Oct 30, 2021
By YIDI WANG
Global Business Journalism reporter
Kabalan Farah is an ideal participant in the Global Business Journalism master's program at Tsinghua University. He has degrees from American University of Beirut and Brown University, he has extensive experience in portfolio management and business development. But he decided that further training at China's top university could help him understand China better and become a better writer. Here are excerpts of our recent conversation:
Q: Please introduce yourself.
A: My name is Kabalan Farah, I am from Lebanon, and I am currently studying for a Global Business Journalism master's at Tsinghua University, I also have a background in finance.
Q: How did you end up in GBJ?
A: To be honest, it was like a natural conclusion. I felt that given my background, an MBA from Brown University and a master's in a local university, in combination with the United Nations Training Institute in international relations and on top of my Western education, I had to head east to further my education.
I had always wanted to go to China. It is the newcomer and the rising superstar of the Eastern world. I wanted to understand the country better, to understand the dynamics. In order to do that, I’ll need to learn about the culture and the language. Also, Tsinghua for me is the number one university in Asia.
After doing research, I found out about the Global Business Journalism program that teaches journalism and multimedia and all the relevant skills for someone to succeed in that field. After I got accepted in Tsinghua, I dropped all my other university choices from Europe and outside of China and I decided that this is what I wanted to do.
Q: How would the GBJ program be beneficial for your career?
A: I don’t know yet because I am in the middle of a career shift. I have worked in finance for a long period of time and completing an MBA was an initial step for my career pivot. Meanwhile, my master's in international relations and now the master's in journalism in GBJ will both complement my journey in heading towards a career in journalism. Then again, choosing to be in the GBJ program will be the logical conclusion in my career pivot. I am sure that it will provide me with opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in other educational institutes, especially the program’s connection with China itself. Being associated with one of the top names in China is also an added value.
Q: What skills and characteristics are essential to success in your career?
A: Well, in journalism I think that the most important characteristic is to be curious and always have this drive that pushes you to know better about the world and the people. Without curiosity, I think it becomes impossible to be a proper journalist and the journalism skills you will learn along the way. However, you also have to be a people person, to know how to listen and learn to stay in the background sometimes, not to force on your owns views and thinking and to always have empathy. I think these are the most important characteristics of being a journalist.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of your career?
A: I love reading. I probably read more than a hundred books a year. On top of all the other things that I read, I also have subscriptions to financial times, wall street journal and many other related things. Every day I dedicate at least a couple of hours trying to learn about what is happening around the world and to understand it a little bit more. I complement all this by reading books, because it gives me a wider perspective on issues.
I wouldn’t say I have specific interests, but I like politics and history and the majority of my reading is concentrated on that part. I also like playing chess.
Q: What are your visions for the future and how would GBJ aid you in completing them?
A: I would like to be writing in different magazines or journals and being an independent journalist writing from somewhere in the world. I have already been to 30 countries and planning to make that to a hundred. I would like to be traveling to different countries and writing from anywhere in the world.
Yidi Wang is a master's student in the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University. A New Zealand citizen, she has been studying in Beijing for five years.
This post first appeared on her blog.