Career Tip 180
Follow your heart. Try and ask ‘what’s the worst thing if I do’ and then ‘what’s the worst thing if I don’t’ [make the leap]. It’s almost always a clear decision with those answers.
Competing against a barking chorus of dogs at Pets A Go Go’s Briarcliff Manor doggy daycare center, owner Nicole Goudey-Rigger strains her voice to tell us about her career swap, from corporate financial risk-compliance titan and later independent international compliance consultant to owner of a full-service pet-care company (walking, watching, feeding, visiting, etc.). But the strain is of no mind to her. “I like dogs more than I like people,” she says.
That’s not to say Goudey-Rigger, a Chappaqua resident, has a disdain for people, or working among them. After all, she left the corporate world in 2010, dignified and accomplished—she’d risen from an institutional sales assistant at Lehman Brothers in the early ’80s to VP of Global Operations, Risk Management and Compliance at Alliance Capital Management LP in the early ’00s, and then went on to found Implementations Solutions LLC, a corporate risk consultancy, in 2002.
Two dog-related events led to Pets A Go Go’s founding. Summer, the Australian shepherd mix Goudey-Rigger adopted in 2004 was, er, on the rambunctious side, and required four hours of exercise a day. She hired a dog walker, a new concept at the time. Then her Yorkshire terrier, Chloe, contracted a lung infection during a five-day kennel stay, causing Chloe to require antibiotics for the last two years of her life. To say the least, Goudey-Rigger was disgusted with the pet care industry. She had identified a need for high-quality, accountable pet care.
And so began Pets A Go Go in 2005. She ran it in parallel with Implementation Solutions and, with one employee, offered walking and sitting services. Initially, she thought she could run her consulting business and maintain Pets A Go Go on the side. “I wasn’t trying to wind down my other career,” she recalls. “I wanted both. I loved what I did, but I had a passion for one and the other one paid the bills.”
That all changed when she had kids—two sets of twins. “I didn’t have them to not see them grow up,” she says. “Most of my clients were in Austro-Asia or London. It was a fabulous life but not when you have teeny-tiny kids.” She stopped consulting in 2010, and Pets A Go Go grew to resemble its current form: 25 full-time employees crisscrossing the county in orange Honda Elements servicing some 1,800 customers, tending to their dog walking, feeding, and visiting needs as they arise. “When you’re a client with us, you don’t have to worry about getting home at night, about getting your dog to the vet anymore—we offer all-encompassing care,” she says, including a doggy daycare center Goudey-Rigger opened two years ago, expanding from home-based care.
She’s happier this way. “I love my clients—the humans and the dogs,” she says. “They’re never having a nasty convo around a water cooler.”