Marine Biologist to Marketer

Marine Biologist to Marketer – how on earth did that happen?

Einstein once said, Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Now, for me this rings true. Take my life as an example; marine biologist turned marketer, who always swore she would never work in an office (even a remote one) and yet here I am… are you confused? Well, honestly so am I. But I blame it on nature and let me tell you why.

Why Marine Biology?

It’s often the people we look up to who shape our futures, and for me, having a father who loved nature, in particular the ocean, is without a doubt the reason I am who I am today. I grew up in Australia, fishing, snorkelling, camping, exploring in rockpools, and when I finally turned 13, I got my scuba diving licence. It really went full steam ahead from then on.

While my friends were off becoming doctors and lawyers, there I was at university dissecting a hammerhead shark in the name of science, I loved it. But then as the years rolled on and I worked in the industry and got more involved with marketing, my goals changed. I went from wanting to fix the world’s problems myself, to wanting to fix them with other people. How did I get to this point? Well, the nature that had surrounded me my whole life actually taught me some things along the way.

Lesson 1: Collaboration

One of the first lessons I learned from nature is that you can’t always do things on your own, you need people and things to support you along the way. There are countless examples in nature of such symbiotic relationships (my favourite being the clownfish and the anemone,  of course). But it was through my work assisting researchers where I realised that yes, discovering new ground-breaking things about nature is amazing, but it is pointless unless the general public understands it and cares about it too.

Lesson 2: Resilience

I also can’t say that my road to being a marine biologist was always easy either, and this lesson was a hard one. Or perhaps, emotionally draining is a better word for it. As a tropical marine biologist, I worked on coral reefs all around the world. As beautiful as these ecosystems are, they are like much of nature, disturbed and destroyed on the daily. I witnessed mass coral bleaching events, dead coral for as far as the eye can see, dynamite fishing damage, anchor damage, probably hundreds of kilos of trash and debris, it was hard. Hard to see all this destruction and death. And when you care a lot for something, human or not, you grieve for it.

But with nature not every demise is permanent, or perhaps, there can be a kind of coming back to life, a regeneration, and I saw plenty of this too. I saw enough of the good stuff, that it made the bad bearable. I saw enough of the good stuff, that it made me believe that no matter how hard something is, you can always come back from it. You can always be resilient in the face of adversity. Yeah, nature taught me that one well.

Lesson 3: Adaption

As nature changes and adapts to its surrounding conditions, so did I. Wanting to drive change for the environment more widely, I started volunteering for NGOs and Non-Profits in social media marketing and community outreach. Now this is where the marketing career really starts to get going. While working in the field was so interesting to me, I didn’t see how the amazing research I was involved with was being successfully communicated to the public. It was here that science communication through social media (or the lack of it) developed into me quitting my job in aquaculture, moving across the world to study my master’s in marketing in Sweden, to now working in marketing and writing this blog. Life can be full of twists and turns…

So here we are. I guess what Einstein said was right. While the shift from marine biology to marketing may seem a bit abrupt to begin with, it’s not so hard to explain when you look at the lessons I learned from nature along the way. To me, working with a sustainable (marketing) agency is a way to try and create worthwhile sustainable change in this world.

People often say that ‘sustainability is the future’. Well, I think we are at a point now where sustainability has to be the future, and I am glad this has led me to Akepa, and to hopefully many other companies who are trying to do the right thing, right now.

I started as the girl who wanted to make the world a better place alone, and now, I would like to do it with you.


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Michaela Farnham

Scuba diver, explorer, biologist, baker, marketer.

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