California native Sean Giovacchini has a broken hip to blame for the end of his college lacrosse playing days, but that injury also helped put him on a successful career path in business. While recovering, Giovacchini was watching a soccer tryout for the team his father, Joe, coaches when co-coach John Hubacz asked about his background and what he was studying.
"I worked for [Best Buy's] Geek Squad while I was going to school," Giovacchini said, "so I had a technical background with a lot of engineering courses. He [Hubacz] interviewed me on the spot. It's a random story — break your hip and get a job."
Five years later, Giovacchini still works for Hubacz at JH Technologies, although he transferred from Fremont, California, to Nashua, New Hampshire. Giovacchini is also a few months shy of completing the Master of Business Administration in Management online program at Fitchburg State University in May 2019.
"I initially wanted to be a surgeon," he said. "I did quite a bit of interning and shadowing. I liked the medical field, but I didn't like how a lot of people I talked to [in the field] said they wouldn't do it again, which says they were secretly not as happy as they seemed. That's what deterred me from pursuing it."
Giovacchini returned to college for a graduate degree after earning a promotion from regional sales engineer to regional territory leader in early 2018. The flexibility of the online format makes earning an MBA while working full time manageable.
"I worked out the schedule where I focus quite a bit on the weekends because my work week can be super crazy so I do my reading then," he said. "I do my responses or papers on the weekends as much as possible. The ability to have that option has been useful. I wouldn't be able to do typical in-person classes with the work schedule."
Giovacchini travels across New England regularly, selling microscopes and other related products for his job. The Fitchburg State University campus is part of his territory.
"When I was looking for online MBA programs and Fitchburg came up, I remembered walking around campus and talking to instructors and students," he said. "The other reason I chose Fitchburg State is, it is close by. I can always go by the school if I need to. You can't say that for all online programs because they could be anywhere. Plus, I read a lot about the flexibility of the program in the reviews."
Giovacchini graduated with a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology from the University of California, Davis, in 2014. He is enjoying the chance to tie information from the online MBA in Management curriculum to his real-world experience.
"I've learned some of the information from working day to day," Giovacchini said. "Not having that undergraduate degree, a lot of it is new and a lot of it is good to learn in a textbook format. It definitely helps to focus and have a degree like this because it shows that you studied a certain topic in depth."
One of Giovacchini's favorite courses, so far, is MGMT 9450: Selected Topics in Management, one of three required management concentration courses. He learned about the challenges of management with organizational changes.
"It worked out well because both sister organizations we primarily work with as well as our company went through a lot of changes this year — all for the better," Giovacchini said. "Seeing a lot of those changes in action with what we learned in school was exactly what we learned would happen and was applicable."
Giovacchini especially liked the example of Netflix, which originally mailed DVDs to customers renting movies while planning for the next stage of technology.
"Netflix also had to do streaming services to try to account for the changes that were coming in the future," he said. "They basically ran two businesses at once, which relates to a topic called dual transformation. I brought that concept back to a couple of companies that did some research and applied it, as well."
Coast to Coast
With graduation day on the horizon, Giovacchini is excited about the future. Earning an MBA completes his transition from aspiring surgeon to business leader. Plus, Giovacchini will be the first person in his immediate family to earn a master's degree.
"My friends and family are excited because they always knew I wanted to be something different and I'll probably do other things, as well," he said. "They are also nervous because it's been four years since I was in school and graduating.
"It wasn't as hard to get back into it as a lot of people told me it would be. It's like riding a — it's been a long time, but at least you remember how to study. I hadn't had any online courses at UC Davis. I was worried about that, but it's a pretty easy transition once you learn how to use the software."
Giovacchini loves what he does for a living and has no plans to change jobs any time soon. If those plans change, he knows the MBA is preparing him by expanding his skill set.
"I'm focused on this career path right now and what's at hand," he said. "I like what we do because I do something different every day. Our customers are always showing us different problems to solve. That's nice and helpful. I couldn't sit at an office job all day. I wanted to go for an MBA to open other options. I haven't really thought about what those options might be."
Just like Giovacchini did while recovering from that broken hip, he met the challenges of learning something new in a graduate degree program head on.
"Don't be nervous about enrolling in the MBA program," he said. "I didn't come into this with any business knowledge other than working in business. I never had a college business class before. Just be confident in your studying ability. Rip the Band-Aid off. Go for it."
Spoken like a true ex-lacrosse player.
Learn more about the Fitchburg State online MBA in Management program.
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