Fanny Chen often tells Carson College of Business students to get to know their peers. Friendships they form at WSU will form the basis for a network they can tap into for years to come.
“You never know what the future will bring,” says Chen (’97 Mgmt., Human Res.). “Fifteen years from now, that classmate sitting next to you in statistics might be working at a company with an opportunity you’re interested in.”
Chen works as a lead talent acquisition consultant for LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions, a suite of products companies use for their hiring and recruiting strategies. When she talks to Carson College students and WSU student-athletes about the value of networking and how to create and leverage a professional presence online, Chen draws on her own experience.
“At every phase of my career, someone I knew at that company helped me get my foot in the door for that opportunity,” she says.
Chen’s volunteer work also extends to serving on the college’s Human Resources and Management Advisory Board, and she’s mentored students interested in working in the tech industry.
Chen is half of a Carson College alumni couple. Her longtime partner is Isaac Fontaine (’97 Busi. Admin., Mgmt.), a WSU Hall of Fame basketball player and senior tax associate at KPMG.
“A Special Place in Our Hearts”
Chen and Fontaine say the four years they spent at WSU had a lasting impact on their personal and professional lives.
“People took the time to share their expertise and insights and help me,” Chen says. “I’ve always appreciated that, and it’s been a passion of mine to give back.”
“WSU is where my network started, although I didn’t realize it at the time,” Fontaine says.
The couple lives in the Sacramento area with their 11-year-old son, Isaac Fontaine V. They visit eastern Washington to see Chen’s parents in Richland, and they head to the WSU Pullman campus about once a year.
“WSU holds a special place in our hearts. We’re definitely a Cougar family,” Chen says.
“Our son has been running around Martin Stadium since he was two,” Fontaine adds.
Martin Stadium holds memories for Chen, who was part of the inaugural Pom Squad dance team, now called Crimson Girls. Fontaine scored many of his 2,003 points at Beasley Coliseum, and he still ranks number 1 on the Cougar men basketball’s all-time scoring list.
They also visit the Rotunda (now called South Side), the dining hall where they met their freshman year. “We still go back there when we go to homecoming, although it looks completely different now,” Fontaine says.
“Something I Still Use Today”
WSU’s influence on Chen’s career started even before she enrolled as a student. During high school, she worked as a server at the Red Lion Hotel in Richland, where the hotel’s human resources manager was a WSU alumna.
“She took me under her wing and let me job shadow her,” Chen says. “She continued to mentor me during my four years at WSU.”
Fontaine, a high school basketball standout, was heavily recruited by top universities. When he was visiting the Pullman campus, WSU’s college town vibe felt right to him.
After graduation, Fontaine played professional basketball for ten years, including a stint at the Memphis Grizzlies. He found that his business degree was an asset in the world of professional sports. It gave him the financial acumen to manage and invest his money and to prepare free tax returns for other players. He also used his knowledge of management and behavioral science.
“Being able to assess people and recognize what motivates them is something that carried over,” Fontaine says. “When I was a team captain or leader, I used those ideas and theories. It’s something I still use today in my work.”
“I Remember Being in Their Shoes”
At LinkedIn, Chen works with some of the world’s largest companies.
“I talk with these customers about their team strategy,” she says. “I’m able to take a pulse on the industry. When I talk to students, I can provide context and perspective on what companies are looking for.”
Chen says it’s rewarding to share her expertise with students.
“I remember being in their shoes,” Chen says. “It’s daunting. It’s scary to reach out for that first job or that first internship. If you get an opportunity to see behind the curtain, maybe it becomes less daunting and scary.”