Staff profile

Natalie Okpara-McFarlane

Business Development Manager

Natalie McFarlane - Business Development Manager


Business Engagement & Employability, Innovation and Research



I am a Business Development and Employability Manager in Research and Innovation, driving the strategy whilst exploring new business opportunities in line with our Civic agenda and commitment to skills, research and employability.

I am also Delivery Manager for the University's Strategic Partnerships in the Arts, Humanities and Education sectors to enhance the portfolio. My work is across disciplines to ensure interdisciplinary practice is promoted and serviced, which makes the job all the more interesting - the more variety around the table the better, to approach business challenges and adopt creative methodologies for delivery.

Whilst happy to meet on applications like Teams, I do prefer to meet face to face to do business and you can book meetings with me using Calendly too, or join me with colleagues at the Creative Mornings Drop-in events.

CreativeMornings/Derby is free breakfast lecture series for the creative community and is part of the world's largest face-to-face creative community. We meet once a month to eat breakfast, drink coffee and listen to a talk which gives lots of inspiration. “Everyone is creative” and this network welcomes all to explore creative solutions for business, by tapping into original ideas and research and development activity from the innovators in the Derby community.

Professional interests

Making meaningful relationships, introducing, and linking people together to share common interests and objectives.

Working with individuals and businesses to seek out, drive and support their goals, grow their business and confidence.

Coaching and inspiring groups and individuals. I am interested in disbanding what's preserved - allowing the disenfranchised to participate.

Research interests

I am interested in research and the role universities play in social change, changing perception and educating communities and society for progress.


Experience in industry

I have over 18 years’ experience in business (including my own) in a client-facing context as well as managing and developing teams.

My career began in Accountancy recruitment. I went on to run my own businesses, one of which was an "incubation" style business. My businesses have been in new markets where I mentored and upskilled teams. 

A role at Nottingham Trent University to embed a restructure with Business Development activity was the start of a career in HE. I joined the University of Derby in 2018 when the Strategic Framework was launched, which forms the Business Development and Employability strategy. 

Additional interests and activities

Attending networking events, collaborative, and business opportunities to grow my knowledge and support others with theirs!