Hoya Highlight: Jason Claire (MBA’02)

Erica Nonni

Director of Corporate Partnerships, FoundersCard

Who do you consider to be your influencer?

My dad was a big brand business executive for many years and then became an entrepreneur in his 50s.  Happy that I was interested in medicine originally, he was hugely supportive when I decided to pursue the business side of healthcare and then open my own design business.  I followed in his footsteps as an entrepreneur.  He used to write me thoughts and analyses of my business in longhand on legal paper.  He would be very proud of the work that I am currently doing at FoundersCard.

What was your favorite Georgetown memory?

In my second year at Georgetown, I participated in a global consulting project in Rome.  I love international travel and this project gave me a reason to participate in international business in some small way.  Fast forward 11 years and I now live in Lausanne, Switzerland.  That experience has helped me in global business.

How has Georgetown helped shape your values, both personally and professionally?

My experience at Georgetown introduced me to international business and to classmates from around the world.  My professors lectured as much about the importance of the culture of business as the principles of finance, marketing, accounting, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The Jesuit tenets of community and social responsibility were the underlying foundation of my experience at Georgetown and continue to evolve and percolate throughout my business and personal experiences abroad.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

The most rewarding time is now!  I’m excited about a B2B opportunity with graduate alma mater, Georgetown University.  At FoundersCard, we have created a global community of entrepreneurs and creative professionals. On behalf of our members, we negotiate unique and compelling partnerships with major travel, business, retail, and lifestyle brands. Substantial discounts, perks, and other benefits can be found within the FoundersCard portfolio.  Plus we have networking events for members hosted around the world. The FoundersCard community reminds me of the Georgetown community.  I’m excited for Georgetown alumni to join us.

What is FoundersCard’s connection to Georgetown?

  Georgetown alumni have a first-of-its-kind arrangement with FoundersCard. We provide them with preferred pricing and a customized FoundersCard experience.

How many people work at FoundersCard? When was the company started? How has it grown?

The company started in 2009 and we’ve grown from a small group of 100 members to over 20,000 globally. Our benefits and event access have expanded dramatically.

What’s next for FoundersCard?

FoundersCard continues to attract more members and more benefit partners, with an eye towards further expansion outside of the U.S.

What trends do you see in your profession?

As many of our benefits are in the travel space, we've noticed that most of our members, regardless of their career stage, tend to book travel for themselves rather than through an assistant or concierge. They look to gain travel insights from peers and like-minded professionals. Our members are busy professionals who are looking for curation and for quality over quantity.  FoundersCard carefully vets every benefit so that members know they're buying into a trusted network and won't be steered wrong.

What was the most useful piece of career advice you ever received?

“Don’t assume you are your own customer.”  This was the mantra of my esteemed Georgetown business school professor and advisor, Elaine Romanelli.  It’s easy to assume as an entrepreneur that you know a market because you know your own buying habits.  You should conduct market research with real people and not assume that everyone else is like you.  (This is probably a good rule for many aspects of our society!)

What kind of stress do you encounter in this profession and how do you deal with it?

I feel fortunate to live in Switzerland one hour from some of the best skiing around.  When I feel stressed, I hop in the car and head up to the mountains.  There is something about feeling small and insignificant in the vastness of the snow-covered mountains that re-centers me.  Focusing on a task like skiing, which requires all of my attention, also allows me to clear my mind.  The combination of the views and the sport is magical.

How do you think your time at Georgetown affected your professional decisions?

I attended the MBA program at Georgetown during the Bush-Gore election and graduated just after 9/11.  There was intense national and global uncertainty.  It was a point of reflection for me and the rest of the world.  After graduation, I went back to healthcare consulting – the industry in which I worked prior to school.  It seemed safe.  But I soon realized that it didn’t make me happy, so I opened a design business in Washington, D.C.  I think if you follow your passion, then success (however that is defined for you) will come.

Any parting words of wisdom for fellow Hoyas?

Follow your passions both professionally and personally.