Kurt Fournier with his daughter Isabella
Kurt Fournier with his daughter Isabella

The third time was the charm.

After twice starting an MBA program, Kurt Fournier made the latest attempt stick with his degree from the Hankamer School of Business. And it all started with his need to fill a little downtime.

“My daughter does competitive dance, so she doesn’t get home until 10 o’clock three nights a week,” Fournier said. “That’s part of the reason I did it. I was like, ‘I’m home alone anyway — let’s do something.’ That’s really what kind of triggered it, like, ‘Hey, I’m bored, and it just makes sense.’”

His wife, Kim (whom he met on a blind date when they were 16 years old), and daughter, Isabella, were both extremely supportive of Fournier going back to school.

And after he walks across the stage in December 2016, he will get back to his hobby of piloting airplanes.

“I grew up around airplanes,” he said. “My dad [Lou] was in the Air Force. My brother [Louis] is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force right now. I’ve had my pilot’s license for a good 10 years. Now that I’m done with my MBA, my next project is to get my instrument rating.”

Baylor + Online = Perfect Combination

Growing up in Keller, Texas, Fournier used to attend football camp at Baylor University. So, when he was researching an online MBA and looked into Baylor’s program, it turned out to be the right fit.

“I’ve always loved Baylor,” Fournier said. “When I saw they had the program, which was just kind of getting started up, I was like, ‘Heck, yeah.’ Along with the name recognition, the price is not ridiculous — that’s the biggest thing. It was definitely more expensive than North Texas and some of the other ones I looked at, but it’s still half the price of SMU’s Executive MBA program.”

Fournier, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Finance from UNT, is the director of finance and accounting at Marriott International in Fort Worth. While he wanted the knowledge that an MBA offers, simply finishing what he had started was his main objective.

“I’m farther along in my career, so it’s not like I’m in my twenties trying to get the complete ROI on it,” he said. “To me, if I was going to put the money in, I wanted to make sure I got a good, reputable school. That meant a lot to me.”

Fournier started his MBA at Oklahoma City University in 1998. He transferred to Minneapolis for his job and didn’t return to school for four and a half years, when he enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the University of St. Thomas.

“I was about halfway done and had a chance to move home,” Fournier said. “My wife told me, ‘Yes, we are moving home.’ When we moved back, I decided, ‘Okay, I’m taking a break from school. I’m going to get my pilot’s license and have fun.’”

Once he finally decided to go back to school, the online option proved to be the one he needed to seal the deal.

“Regardless if you’re traveling or if you’re working late, it’s just easier to get done,” Fournier said. “It’s still a ton of work, but a lot of times when I would work late, it was really convenient. You have no distractions or can even do it lunch time. Since I did a couple of classes that were traditional MBA and then I did the Executive MBA, I find the online to be the best of both worlds.”

Engaging Experience

Even though he was not sitting next to anybody in a classroom, Fournier said that did not stop him from getting to know his fellow online students.

“It’s not like the same people are with you in every single class, but I’ve now had several people who were with me in the majority of the classes,” he said. “So, when you’re doing discussion boards or projects, you really get to know people. You don’t get to see them all of the time, but you’re having constant discussions.”

Fournier said that made the online experience even more engaging than even the classroom experience.

“In a regular MBA class, you can sit at the back of the room, show up and do whatever,” Fournier said. “But here, you’re forced to participate. You really do get everybody’s opinions. … Since everyone was forced to speak and interact, you had such a diverse amount of interactions and experience. It was actually really, really cool.”

Fournier is eagerly looking forward to meeting some of those classmates in person at graduation.

“We have a discussion board about who all is graduating in December,” he said. “There’s a guy here locally who works for Dickies in Fort Worth. He’s been in the majority of my classes. He’s like, ‘Oh, cool. I finally get to meet you in person.’ There are several of us that have been in classes together the last 2 years. We’re all looking forward to meeting up in Waco.”

Increasing Knowledge

Fournier said he was immediately able to apply some of what he was learning in his MBA program to his job. Most recently, he applied some of that knowledge outside of work, too.

“The communications course was one of the immediate ones,” he said. “I’ve also used some things from the negotiations class recently — especially when I was buying a house.”

Of course, he had some other favorite courses along the way.

“The strategy class [Strategic Management and Business Policy, MGT 5485] with Dr. Gary Carini was really, really good,” he said. “We would pull stuff out of daily articles that was really current, such as Wall Street Journal articles. The communications class [Strategic Communication, BUS 5490] was excellent, quite frankly. I believe that professor recently retired. Hers was very, very good. I enjoyed the ethics class. I thought that was very, very good. Negotiations [MGT 5402] was a really good class, as well.”

Fournier also offers some advice for those considering an online MBA program. He said it’s important to find the right program.

“If you’re going to invest in the money and are doing it online, make sure you’re picking a good, reputable program with a school name behind it,” he said. “Make sure it’s accredited. Make sure to allocate a good 20 hours a week to it. I had some classes that took less time and some that took even more. My last class was economics, and I had eight assignments due one week. The next week wasn’t as bad, but you’re doing seven-week sessions, so it’s like you’re doing summer school. You’re also trying to work and have a home life. You’ve really got to manage your time well.”

Into the Wild, Blue Yonder

Now that he has completed his MBA online, Fournier will have more time on his hands when his wife and daughter are away at dance. But he has a little bit more studying to do to get back up into the skies.

“I used to go flying every weekend, every Saturday morning,” Fournier said. “My dad has a group of buddies who all have planes. We’d go have breakfast on Saturday morning and then go to the airport. We actually have four planes in the hangar right now. We’d just take a plane and go fly. I haven’t done it as much the last few years, but that’s one of the reasons I want to get my Instrument Rating — to get me out there and get flying again.”

Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.