Our Story

Incus Partners was founded by Steph Barr and Michelle Di Fabio, after working together in a volunteer capacity on the Faculty of Business & Economic’s Inaugural Alumni Council at The University of Melbourne.

Passionate about ensuring future generations have exceptional higher education experiences and building life long connections with Alumni, Michelle and Steph take a uniquely customer-centric approach to higher education problem solving, ensuring institutions are effectively ‘future-proof’ by ensuring new initiatives are aligned to rapidly evolving market needs.

Michelle and Steph are life-long learners, contributors and mentors who have worked with universities to globally to develop value propositions that drive engagement and impact for students, alumni and industry.

Bringing together their experience and passion for higher education, they saw a unique opportunity to develop a dedicated higher education consultancy that is insights led that adapts Global best practice to the Australian market. Deriving from the Latin word incussus, meaning listen and impact, Incus Partners was born.

The vision: To embed a culture of student & alumni pride, generosity and connection to ensure a prosperous future and lasting impact.  

Michelle Di Fabio

Founding Partner

Michelle is one of the two Founding Partners of Incus Partners and brings a wealth of strategic experience with a specialisation in business strategy, execution, stakeholder engagement and social impact consulting.

Michelle is a lifelong learner and alumni of The University of Melbourne, University of Manchester and Oxford University. She is a passionate contributor to the higher education sector working on student engagement, mentoring and alumni strategy as a Past President of student society FMAA and inaugural Deputy Chair of The Faculty’s alumni council.

Michelle enjoys presenting to students and alumni on leadership and professional development and was given the honour to present the Occasional address to graduating students at a University of Melbourne graduation ceremony. Michelle is the former Head of Strategy for one of the largest Superannuation industry funds in Australia, Hostplus and qualified as a Chartered Accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. She has extensive experience working in insolvency, accounting and strategy consulting across financial services, retail, education and professional services sectors.

Michelle is experienced working at C-Suite level, reporting direct to the CEO and working with Executive teams and Boards. Michelle understands how strong governance is the key to effective operations. She has experience running complex projects and working with leadership teams to drive strategy and execution.

Michelle is a board member and award winning consultant, recognised for her leadership and contribution to the superannuation, financial services and the professional services industry. She is passionate about driving social outcomes, working with students, alumni and the education sector to drive lasting impact.

Steph Barr

Founding Partner

Steph is one of the two Founding Partners of Incus Partners. She is an award winning brand and creative strategist who has dedicated her career to figuring out what makes marketing effective. Most recently leaving McCann Melbourne, Steph has over 15 years experience working for Australia’s biggest and best marketers both agency and client side, helping Telstra achieve its current status as Australia’s most valuable brand, and creating the strategy behind some of the world’s most effective marketing campaigns. 

During her time at Telstra, Steph managed the multi-million dollar brand, ad and retail insights program to provide C-suite advisory that helped transform Telstra into Australia’s most valuable brand. Overseeing Telstra’s most significant rebrand since privatisation, Steph contributed to $9,452 billion of brand value growth, leading organisational behavioural change and customer experience optimisation, including the developing Telstra’s experiential ‘store of the future’.

In the creative world, Steph has developed award winning brand and campaign strategies for clients including The University of Melbourne, Metro Trains, MIFF, L’Oreal, Bic, Nimble, Bendigo Bank, Seeing Eye Dogs Victoria, The Australian Federal Government.