From musical theatre to defense manufacturing: Miami Herbert alumnus takes a different path

From musical theatre to defense manufacturing: Miami Herbert alumnus takes a different path

By Michelle Tulande

From musical theatre to defense manufacturing: Miami Herbert alumnus takes a different path

By Michelle Tulande
Michael Hajjar ’21 has always been fascinated with government, intelligence, and defense spaces. Hajjar currently works for Xavier Defense as the Vice President of Operations but his road was one less traveled than others in his career.

Unlikely Beginnings

When the time came to choose a path, Hajjar chose musical theatre due to his passion for storytelling. Enamored with the arts, he and his identical twin were both accepted to New York University and earned an undergraduate degree in musical theatre. What followed his graduation were years of performing across the world. After taking on the stage for a few years, he was ready for a change.

Hajjar transitioned out of performing by taking a behind-the-scenes approach to it. He started to produce his own cabaret shows. He negotiated, budgeted, cast, and made magic happen on the stage in a different role. When a friend noticed his new venture, she suggested that Hajjar pursue an MBA.

Enter stage left, Miami Herbert

In 2019, Hajjar started his journey at the Miami Herbert Business School. Along with forming life-long friendships, he found opportunities to excel as a leader and represent the LGBTQ+ community in the higher education space.

Only a few weeks after starting his MBA, Hajjar learned about the ROMBA Conference, the world’s largest gathering of LGBTQ+ business students and alumni. In true Hajjar fashion, he embraced the opportunity, entered the organizations writing competition, and won an all-expenses-paid trip to the ROMBA Conference! After attending ROMBA, Hajjar applied and was accepted to be part of the committee that oversaw and executed the upcoming ROMBA Conference the following year. Along with nine other MBA students from around the world, Hajjar helped successfully execute the conference where he led entertainment-industry focused panels and info-sessions. This experience left him with a networking circle outside of Miami Herbert and unforgettable moments supporting and highlighting the LGBTQ+ community in the business world.

Outside of his involvement with ROMBA, Hajjar views his time competing in the Miami Leadership Challenge as a huge highlight while attending Miami Herbert. Organized by The Johnson A. Edosomwan Leadership Institute within Miami Herbert, nearly 100 graduate business students participate in a two-day immersive business and media-crisis scenario. Hajjar credits this experience and many others at Miami Herbert for his ongoing success in his current role.

Among those experiences are the friendships he found at Miami Herbert. Despite his in-person experience being cut short due to COVID, Hajjar built and has maintained close relationships with his cohort.

The Show Must Go On!

As the curtains began to close on Hajjar’s time at Miami Herbert, an opportunity came from his lifelong interest in politics and related fields.

Inspired by the American Dream, and looking to his fathers’ story as an example, Hajjar was always curious about the world and different governments and believes that being introspective on one’s society is the best way to find solutions and move forward. His father immigrated to the United States from Aleppo, Syria in the 1960s and attributed his success to the freedom he found in the States.

Fast forward to January 2021, Hajjar was put in touch with his current boss. Once he graduated in May 2021, the opportunity to work at Xavier Defense presented itself. The company needed help creating business models and strategic marketing plans. Luckily, Hajjar had just earned his MBA and was thrilled to help grow the firm.

Hajjar’s stepped into the spotlight and made it his own. His journey is a testament that it is never too late to pursue something new.