Christina Fong (B.Eng.’15, MBA’21)
Customer success manager, CoLab Software
Where are you from?
St. John’s, N.L.
Where, and in what area, did you do your undergraduate?
I studied at Memorial University of Newfoundland and completed a bachelor of mechanical engineering (co-op) in 2015.
Why did you choose to get an MBA?
Six months after I graduated from Engineering, I accepted a job in St. John’s working with a company in the offshore oil and gas industry. After spending two-and-a-half years at that company, I began to reconsider my career choice. When I stepped back to think about where I wanted to be in 10 years’ time, I realized I wasn’t happy with my current trajectory, and that I needed to change my career path.
I was curious about completing a MBA because I wanted to acquire a complementary skillset to engineering and I was really interested in developing my business acumen. I quit my job in August of 2018, and enrolled full-time in the MBA program in September of 2018.
Why did you choose Memorial for your MBA?
While I lived briefly in Calgary, A.B. and Houston, Texas throughout my engineering degree, I was happy to accept a job opportunity in St. John’s after graduating, where I could be close to my family and friends. The program appealed to me because it meant I could stay in St. John’s and it also offers a very flexible curriculum with most classes offered in the evenings. So I knew it would be easy to switch from full-time to part-time if the right job opportunity arose.
How would you describe your experience as a graduate student at Memorial?
One of my favorite parts of the MBA was the engaging, enriching class discussions (in person, pre-Covid 19!). For the most part, class sizes were small so it was easier to get to know your classmates and have rich discussions. I loved learning from my classmates and hearing the perspectives they had to offer from their background and career. Conversations were always respectful, and I learned so much through those interactions. In addition, I have an immeasurable respect and gratitude for my MBA professors, several of whom made an important impact on my personal growth throughout the program.
How well do you believe the MBA degree has prepared you for your career and what are the important characteristics of the degree that help you in your current work?
My current role is customer success manager at CoLab Software, a technology company founded in St. John’s. I started working with CoLab in April 2019, at which point I switched from a full-time to a part-time MBA student.
Through networking and meeting classmates who worked with local tech companies, I learned a lot about the nature of these companies, the roles available and how to get started. I became particularly interested in CoLab because the software they were building improved design collaboration and communication amongst engineers – a problem that I personally experienced during my education and early career as a mechanical engineer. I originally started with CoLab as a business development intern over the summer, and a short time later I was given the opportunity to become Colab’s first customer success employee.
The MBA program at Memorial University provided me with a combination of soft and hard skills. My MBA was fuelled by experiential learning. Working with a fast-growing start-up company and studying part-time in the evening enabled me to learn valuable business principles and then apply them the next day at work. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the John Molson MBA International Case Competition in Montreal, Q.C. during the program, and the experience I gained from analyzing case studies and building business plans further solidified my ability to perform in today’s competitive technology sector.
Do you have any advice for current and/or future graduate students?
The key to growth is existing outside of your comfort zone. For any current or future graduate students, my best advice is to find what makes you most uncomfortable and then invest as much time as possible in that area. I always remind myself that if I feel uncomfortable or nervous, it means I’m growing and becoming a better version of myself.
You reap what you sow in the MBA program. Listen to your classmates with the intent of learning and always be respectful, do the work and research so you can contribute to discussions, and try to get to know your professors. Finally, always have a ‘yes’ and ‘can-do’ attitude and take advantage of all the extracurricular offerings like the John Molson MBA International Case Competition. It’s often experiences like these outside the typical curriculum that expedite your growth, leave a lasting impact and change you for the better.