Student leader profile: Isenberg Undergraduate Consulting Group president Davies DeCesare-Fousek

By Tanaya Asnani

Daily Collegian
(Stephanie Berenson/Daily Collegian)

Davies DeCesare-Fousek, a 21-year old Lincoln native, is a business administration major at the Isenberg School of Management. He’s passionate about creating a big impact within the crossroads of business and technology by demonstrating profound leadership.

DeCesare-Fousek is the president of the Isenberg Undergraduate Consulting Group and the founder of UMass AdLab, a student- run agency that develops and produces advertisements for RSOs and local businesses.


Tanaya Asnani: How are you involved on campus, especially being the president of the Isenberg Undergraduate Consulting Group and the founder of UMass AdLab?

Davies DeCesare-Fousek: So you come into school, and you’re into college, I think it’s really important to figure out what your passions are. And it is very crucial to your success. I believe that both groups have to be a platform to do that. The Isenberg Consulting Group and AdLab provides an opportunity for students to be on the platform, possess an exponential learning opportunity to explore their interests. A lot of students have specific career interests, in advertising and management consulting but there might not be a road map to achieve that. So, we really want to provide students an opportunity to explore those areas and provide a road map for them to do it efficiently.


TA: How did you initially get involved with both groups?

DDF: After my freshman year at UMass, I wasn’t really sure on what I wanted to do. So I saw the opportunity through the school of management to do a trip to one of the local advertising agencies in Boston. I went to this advertising agency and I was pretty infatuated with the culture and what they were doing. I went in and got the internship after freshman year.

I came back to UMass and saw a lot of students were looking into going for advertising in their junior and senior years but weren’t really able to get their foot in the door because of a lack of experience. They really didn’t understand the landscape and did not have connections. I created AdLab as a platform for students to get that exposure to advertising. I secured a partnership with the advertising agency I interned with because one of the senior vice presidents was an UMass alumni. Over the course of the semester, we conducted six seminars to kind of fill what we thought of as the advertising curriculum gap. With the business school in UMass and the communications program, there is a noticeable gap that is being filled slightly but there’s still the need for insights from professionals and the industry. So we made a curriculum to account for strategy and to cover management. The consulting group was founded on a similar premise but also focused heavily on giving back to the local community in a meaningful way because we saw that we had a lot of expertise from our internships and classwork that we could bring to help these local businesses.


TA: How does your involvement affect people on campus, and also the campus community?

DDF: We want to provide a bridge to careers and the consulting group also bridges the management and consulting careers. We love to donate to charities or help local businesses and we want to go beyond that. A good example of that is Mi Tierra, a local restaurant that had suffered a pretty tragic fire about two years ago. We got in touch and while they seemed to have new success at their new location, they’re still facing some operational challenges with their employee responsibilities. It had an impact on their bottom line and their services that they’re providing to customers and we saw a significant improvement through a donation of small funds that amounted to a lot.


TA: What are you currently working on through your roles?

DDF: There are some aspects of client confidentiality that we have to protect. We are working with a large local high end clothing manufacturer and distributor that is looking to expand their sales into the e-commerce space. With e-commerce there’s a lot of challenges in distribution, like providing the customer experience online and the need to market it properly. There’s a strategy that comes with that and figuring out how much they need to use and they’re seeking investors right now to fund that operation. So we are expanding to the e-commerce space and building a pitch for investors to raise a few hundred thousand dollars as capital.

Another project is with a local chain of fitness and outerwear outfitting. They’ve seen a lot of growth in the last couple of years and they’re facing a classic business paradox of the owners and the top level management being really involved in the day to day operations. At the end of the day, it is draining on their long term strategy to have management be involved in the day-to-day. So we really want to standardize their operations across their locations so that the delineation of responsibilities can be much clearer and remove non validated processes. It is called process reengineering and we’re helping them look at the overall market and where they fit in.


TA: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

DDF: I think working with the residential service desks was a very interesting project. That was an example of a very simple fix that had a huge impact. They had to ensure that every single and spare key is in place for every single room on campus. So, that process was done by student employees who worked part time and had to be done every day. The process they went through was very time consuming and resulted in a lot of mistakes. It was painful. We looked at it and did a kind of audit on the process and observed all the different residential service desks across campus and saw a number of inconsistencies. So we added essentially a color coded system to account for the number keys, sorted colors for the corresponding number of keys and then we offered a number of technological solutions to improve the speed at which they were going through binders. So that was a cool project which was very, very simple.

One of the more complex ones, I’d say was working with residential services. We worked with residential services to improve their winter housing switchover process. So, it results in them having to ensure that people have moved out of their rooms and those rooms are marked as available for people who might want to switch rooms. They were finding that due to a lack of communication, keys were not returned. So we virtually implemented a large access and multi-relational database to help them track all these changes that were occurring. That increased transparency.


TA: What do you think makes you uniquely a leader at UMass, on campus, in the position you are in right now?

DDF: I like to think that I have a healthy paranoia of losing the culture that we’ve created within the consulting group. I had a very hard time letting go of the AdLab but the new leadership is thriving and is on its way. The consulting group is something we’ve seen tremendous success for the past two years since I became involved about a year and a half ago. We work to improve each other and provide a lot of critical, on-the-spot honest feedback. The power of the group does not lie in one person, it really lies in the collective expertise. I spend a lot time with the group and clients and that helps to develop relationships and relationships are really important with the student groups. Student organizations have a very fickle nature. People graduate, people leave. Our demands of being a student are very volatile. They constantly change, so we’re really trying to create a culture where we’re able to work with that. We always have very high expectations of each other and we always make sure that we’re constantly improving. There’s always something that could be done better .


TA: Can you tell me a little bit about your hobbies, interests and what you enjoy doing for fun?

DDF: I really love the outdoors and one of the reasons I came to UMass was because of the Pioneer Valley. The Pioneer Valley is a great place for the outdoors. I enjoy spending time with my friends going out biking, hiking and kayaking. It provides an escape from my mind and all other obligations. I have done a few trips with the outdoor club, but sometimes I don’t like going with a group. I prefer going with a close group of friends but I think that is also awesome. I do enjoy cities. I don’t think I like New York. I used to be more of a gym goer but I think I prioritize other things. I love tech, just gadgets. I originally was a computer science major in my freshman year but I really liked the intersection of business and technology at the same time but I still love tinkering with stuff. I like making things efficient for my own life and that involves connecting two different technologies or different processes or making my to-do list sync up in a certain manner or using different scripts to do things. I love doing that.