March 30, 2021Print | PDF
Chris Hauser, BSc, DVM and MBA Candidate 2021, always knew he wanted to be a vet. From the age of eight, he started planning to attend the University of Guelph to become Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. A goal that he pursued with determination and passion, and achieved.
While in veterinary school, Hauser was exposed to opportunities within veterinary medicine that fell outside of the traditional clinical practice – roles within government or industry, adjacent to or continuing to support animal wellness, but outside of what he had initially considered. As a new graduate, however, he found that the only roles presented to him were to work in a veterinary clinic, and so he started working in the field. But those ideas about alternate roles continued to interest him, despite the path to get there feeling unclear.
Instead of waiting for something to come along, Hauser decided to actively look for others working in roles he thought sounded interesting. He sought interviews, networking opportunities, LinkedIn connections – any opportunity to have a conversation, keep learning, and ask others how they got from where they were (ie. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) to where they are now - looking for the best way to make a similar transition for himself. All of these conversations came down to networking, and the opportunity opened by a business degree to bridge into those types of roles – leading him to begin considering a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
“As a business person now, networking feels like second nature,” said Hauser. “But as a science kid, that wasn’t a thing, it’s just not what you do. In science, no one talks about the power of networking to find your role.”
Along the journey, Hauser also took advantage of career counselling offered through his alma mater, the University of Guelph. Through a process called a ‘strong interest inventory test’, he discovered an aptitude for and interest in accounting and finance.
At the same time as he was going through this exploration, Hauser’s fiancé, Cohl Johnston, was pursuing her MBA at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University with a focus in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management. Through her studies and involvement in external case competitions, Hauser had the opportunity connect with, and even travel with, both students and faculty.
He said, “I felt like I was already part of the family because of her experience and the interactions with the professors that I’d already had. It made the choice of school so clear.”
The full-time MBA with co-op option is designed for new graduates with fewer than two years of work experience. Hauser had been working in clinical practice for about 18 months when he started considering an MBA, and he knew the timing was perfect to pursue this next step in his career.
During his first term in the Lazaridis MBA program, Hauser continued to network and attend job fairs, which ultimately led to his first co-op term as an Accounting Intern at Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants in Listowel. Hauser was familiar with the accounting firm from his time in veterinary school, as they have a dedicated department that serves vet clinics. He had met the hiring manager at one of the Laurier job fairs, and had made a connection prior to co-op applications being due.
Ward & Uptigrove is dedicated to supporting the growth and development of future accountants. As a CPA-training facility, participating in co-op programs is the beginning of that process. Janice Kikkert, marketing manager who had the opportunity to work with Hauser said: “Chris has well-rounded experience and a positive outlook. He was keen to ask questions and develop his understanding to successfully complete his work. He showed resilience and flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when mid co-op term we rapidly transitioned to remote work. Working with an MBA student, like Chris, typically means increased experience and maturity that brings the ability to be disciplined, the confidence to ask questions and the resilience to adapt. In general, we know Laurier students to be well-prepared with a broad knowledge and a good understanding of business.”
For his second term, Hauser secured a Marketing and Finance Intern position at Royal Canin – a full-circle opportunity for him as he had been the Student Ambassador for Royal Canin during his time in veterinary school. As the needs of the organization shifted, Hauser was able to use his business foundations to not only support the financial role he was initially hired for, but to also take on some marketing tasks and expand his skill set even further.
Q&A with an MBA: Chris Hauser
The MBA core term, having the chance to really understand eight subject areas in business, has opened opportunities in areas of business such as finance, accounting, data analytics and supply chain – pretty much anywhere I could imagine myself going.
I now look at the veterinary degree as a sort of passport into different companies and fields, and the MBA as a passport within that company to continue to move around. When I started the MBA I really felt that Veterinary Medicine and Business or Veterinary Medicine and Accounting were two separate islands, but through the MBA and through my co-op terms with Ward & Uptigrove and Royal Canin, I really see that there are so many bridges from my past to potential futures. All of it comes back down to the core of the MBA – unlocking the opportunity to explore different areas.
At Ward & Uptigrove, I was able to work full-time, in-office from Jan. to mid-March 2020, and then remotely until end of April as things first really began to shift. By that point I had been onboarded and was well into the term, so was making adjustments with the rest of the team. We were in the middle of tax season, so it stayed busy.
At Royal Canin, work started remotely until an in-office meeting opened the opportunity to sign up to work in-office on specific days. Not many staff were going into the office, so I signed up for as many days as possible, sitting in different areas and finding ways to connect with those around me, mask on and socially distanced. Making the effort to go in almost every day for about a month gave me the opportunity to meet nearly every person who works there, including associates from every department and the senior leadership team.
Coming full circle with Royal Canin from student ambassador to co-op, I was so excited about the opportunity to work for them. As a student I’d only seen happy, driven people working there, which is inspiring. They are a pet-first company, which is a very important thing. Having that chance was like a dream come true. The saddest part of my co-op term was that, due to covid, pets weren’t in the office as they usually are.
Based on core term, I’d crossed marketing off the list in terms of my interests, but talking to my peers in the marketing stream, they really emphasized the necessity of data analytics in marketing. In practice I found this to be true. Taking on these different roles allowed me to really play with excel and tell some exciting stories from complex data. It was one of those books that I looked at and didn’t want to read, but from the inside it was incredible and I really enjoyed it.
Networking in pandemic time has become so much easier. Zoom has removed limitations around borders, time zones, and made networking so seamless. You can now connect with anyone with an internet connection. Your resume plays a small role in getting you a job, but really, it’s who you are as a person and your fit with a company that really give you the most value. Networking is the single most important thing to finding your career.
I believe that every person you have the chance to interact with has something they can teach you. Whether it’s applicable today, tomorrow or 20 years from now - it’s definitely a connection that’s valuable to have. I believe every networking opportunity is helping to build the bridges from where you are today to your future.
In the last term of the MBA we do the BU610 Applied Business Research Consulting Project. If you take the initiative to find the right company and a project that really interests you, and a company that’s willing to invest in your learning experience, it’s an incredible opportunity to give 200 hours towards creating a solution you’re passionate about.
Working on a team where everyone is a hard worker and has a similar mindset and work ethic is really cool. As a runner, we talk about being in the state of FLOW – that’s what this project does for me.
My MBA class is just incredible. In core term, we had people who were fresh out of BBAs, BScs, and lots of international students; and then we had people who had started their own companies, owned them for 15 years before selling and now want more education before doing it again. Another classmate was a president of a major corporation in the Asia-Pacific region. The diverse experience in the MBA program really blows my mind. In vet school, it’s a pretty homogenous group of people around the same age who have done nothing but academics for the past decade and have a lot of pets. MBA is people from every single background and degree; some are there to advance their knowledge in a specific area, some are there to pivot their career. The mindset and experience of the people in the program is so diverse and that brings a lot of fresh perspective to every single project, which helps to expand our opinion. As a team we really build each other up.
I was laser-focused on one single dream for 30 years, and I achieved it. And I’ve also learned how naïve you can be when you have those blinders on and say ‘I’m only going to do this’. So, I have no idea. I want to go where the passion lies and pursue what I’m interested in. I’m hoping I can continue to sample different areas and develop my career as time goes on as opposed to planning it all from this moment.
There’s a quote our consulting team has been using, “borders, not boundaries”. That’s how I want my career to go. I don’t want there to be a box drawn around my title dictating exactly who I am and what I do for the next 30 years of my career. I want a chance to deep-dive and learn some depth in an area, but also have it be a bridge to the next opportunity.
My future career is hopefully going to be finding a company that can match my passion and reflect it back to me so that together we can all elevate each other to the next level.
Now that I’m nearing the end of my MBA, I’m looking for post-grad roles that blend my new passion in accounting, finance and analytics with my life-long passion for animals and veterinary medicine. I’ve been aligning my MBA courses to prepare me to pursue my CPA designation and I’m excited to see what the future has in store.
The Lazaridis School of Business and Economics full-time MBA with co-op program is designed for high-calibre, recent graduates with less than two years of work experience. Laurier uses a seamless, holistic style to teach our “integrated core” – the eight foundational areas of business, providing students with both the breadth and depth of knowledge to bring to their two co-op work terms.
Laurier supports the largest business degree co-op program in Canada and has more than 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in arts, business, economics and science co-op programs. The Lazaridis full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) with co-op program is the first MBA co-op program in Canada to receive accreditation from CEWIL Canada. Employers and students interested in learning more about Laurier’s co-op program can contact Laurie Lahn, associate director: Co-operative Education and External Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March is National Work Integrated Learning Month, hosted by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada. The Lazaridis MBA program provides numerous opportunities for work-integrated learning, regardless of the degree option chosen. With the Live Integrated Case Exercise (ICE), Applied Business Research Consulting Project, Not-for-Profit Practicum, and company project, all Lazaridis MBA students graduate with hands-on application of in-class concepts. Students who enroll in the full-time MBA with co-op will also gain eight months of work experience as part of their degree.
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