Mojgan completing the Sydney Bridge Climb during an Australian business trip.
Mojgan Mehdian Lefebvre lived in three countries before she turned eight. Living abroad was almost second nature for the daughter of an Iranian diplomat. But, it was a trip home at age 12 that changed almost everything.
Mojgan’s father was set for a diplomatic reassignment to the U.S. That was until the 1979 Iranian Revolution began. The country’s change in leadership forced her family to stay in Iran. Initially, Mojgan embraced the family’s change in plans.
“The people of Iran wanted change and for most, it was a very exciting time,” Lefebvre, BS CS ’90, said. “What transpired wasn’t what those who drove the change hoped for.”
Post-revolution many of Iran’s young people left the country in droves. Lefebvre shared their interest in leaving, but had to remain until she graduated high school. Not even admission into Tehran University, Iran’s top medical school, could change her mind.
“I myself might have decided to stay in Iran if I didn't believe that those who came into power were nowhere near the democracy that we had all hoped for,” she said. “And that as importantly, women would have fewer rights than they had had before the revolution.”
Instead, Lefebvre chose to attend college in the U.S. She chose Georgia Tech because of extended family in Atlanta and the Institute’s top-notch technical education. Lacking financial support for her education, Lefebvre abandoned her interest in medicine. She decided a more practical choice would play to her mathematical strengths. Although she’d never even seen a computer before arriving in America, Lefebvre dived into computer science.
Lefebvre had a memorable Georgia Tech experience. She enjoyed being part of Tech’s sizable international community. Lefebvre lived in Home Park with several roommates and worked at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. She also met her husband, Xavier, then a doctoral student in chemical engineering, at Tech.
“I absolutely loved both Georgia Tech and Atlanta,” Lefebvre said. “It offered me a very high-quality education at a very affordable cost.”
Lefebvre joined Bell South as a programmer post-graduation. But, her curiosity stretched far beyond the computer screen. Lefebvre wanted to know the why behind her work. That led her to an MBA at Harvard.
She’s never looked back ever since.
Lefebvre has an impressive record of international business leadership. She worked for 2.5 years at Bain & Company, a top management consulting firm, including a seven-month stint in Paris. Lefebvre also founded and led her own startup focused on outsourcing software development to other countries. Lefebvre was subsequently hired by one of her clients to launch their offshore development in Buenos Aires and proceeded to become CIO of their international operations. Several years later she joined a French biomedical company as their CIO. And she did it all while being a mother to her two young girls.
How has she done it? Consider her roots.
“Having lived in different countries with different languages went a long way in taking away the fear of not being able to fit in a completely different environment,” Lefebvre said. “When I left Iran right after high school to come to the States on my own, the question of whether I'd make it or not did not even cross my mind.”
Lefebvre’s efforts have culminated into her role as CIO and Senior Vice President for Liberty Mutual Global Specialty, an $8 billion division of Liberty Mutual Insurance. She also is a lecturer in MIT’s Sloan School of Management’s CIO Development Program and a board member of Women in Insurance Leadership. In 2015, she was selected as one of the “Women to Watch in Science and Technology”, by Boston Business Journal.
Mojgan celebrating the Persian New Year with her husband Xavier and daughters Sophie and Isabelle.
Lefebvre remains adept at balancing her personal and professional life. She loves spending time with her daughters and husband. Unsurprisingly, that includes plenty of international traveling. Lefebvre also is a board member for two Boston non-profits focused on children.
Her immediate family has since relocated to America from Iran. Lefebvre says she has zero regrets about moving to the U.S. from Iran.
“I wasn’t afraid to follow my dreams and take risks,” Lefebvre said. “And to this date, I have never looked back.”
Just look at how far she’s come.