Wednesday, April 12, 2017
MSBA Student Success Testimonial Series: Chris Fontaine
Q: Why did you choose the MSBA Program?
During my senior year of college when I was looking for jobs, I found myself gravitating towards positions that were much more business-oriented than my undergraduate degree had been, and I felt like this program was a perfect crash course to help me make my way into that world.
Q: What company will you be working for, and what will your title be?
District Dogs: Supervisor
Jacob Hensley started District Dogs in 2014 after leaving a finance career to pursue his passion for
dogs. Within 3 years, his one-man dog walking operation has grown into a company with 12 staff members and over 300 clients in 8 neighborhoods of DC, and as of November 2016, a dog daycare and boarding facility.
After working with more than 50 clients as a dog walker, I'm now a supervisor at the new District Dogs daycare facility. I oversee a small staff of dog attendants and manage daycare and boarding operations.
Q: How did you get interested in this type of work?
I adopted my dog Brody the summer before starting the program. Having him was a huge factor in my choice to work with dogs. There's no shortage of pet service companies in DC, and I picked District Dogs after realizing that it was the one company that really stood out as the kind of people I would want taking care of my own dog.
District Dogs seemed to be both professional and genuinely caring, so I was thrilled to join their team. I picked up my side job as a dog walker with DD after taking time off from the program in spring of 2016. What I thought would be a short stint has turned into a career! I had walked dogs in Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Logan Circle for the company and really come to love our clients and staff. When Jacob asked me to join the management team for the dog daycare he was opening, it was a no brainer. As sad as I was to leave my group of daily walking clients, I now have nearly 100 dogs that I get to see all the time and I have much more in-person interaction with owners, which I was missing as a dog walker.
Q: How did the CUA MSBA program help prepare you for this career path?
The most valuable asset that the MSBA program has given me is my confidence in my ability to navigate the business world. Before starting the program, I felt intimidated by the MSBA curriculum, which included courses like Accounting and Quantitative Analysis. I was unsure not only about how I would perform in these classes, but I was also worried that I would hate them. I was a Theology major in undergrad and had always dreaded anything to do with math. I had decided I just wasn't good at it. The emphasis on practical application to business problems that our classes had put any difficult concepts we covered into clear context, and I ended up doing really well in both classes! It may seem small, but my ability to succeed in those areas really helped me challenge any other limits I had set on myself.
Q: What from the program stands out specifically that you think helped prepare you for a career in this field?
I feel much more confident about the value I bring to my company with an MSBA degree. Our Technology and Operations Management course was especially useful as we were getting a new facility off the ground and managing the speed of our success. Putting together a Daily Activity Log for staff to use every day to mark lunches, reminders, and client notes was a huge help to streamline our internal communication. This process was an improvement that our work in class empowered me to make.
Although working full time at District Dogs while being a full time MSBA student this semester has been challenging, I feel like I have gotten so much more out of courses since everything we've covered over these past few months has been directly applicable to my current position. I use skills I learned in Data Analytics, Managing the Enterprise, and Technology and Operations Management every day at work.
Q: Can you recall a favorite memory from the program?
I love looking back on the class discussions we'd have in Managing the Enterprise. It was so fun to see how much more opinionated we all became as the semester went on, and to see people's thoughts evolve as the whole class contributed to our analysis.