Meet Chris Hayes, Class of 2022

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. I’ve always had a passion for math and science and how things work. I followed that passion and studied Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University before moving to Seattle to work at Boeing. My wife (who I met in Italy while on a 5-year work assignment) and I have a 5 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. When I’m not with my family, I enjoy the outdoors and spend my free time golfing and running. I also like tennis and squash but don’t get to play those too often. My wife and I really love to travel the world and photography is a hobby of mine that fits well with our travels.

Where did you start your career and what led you to choose the Evening MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?

I started my career at Boeing as a summer intern in 2005 and hired full-time in 2006 after I graduated from college. When I finished undergrad, I  did not plan on returning for additional degrees or getting an MBA. That all changed when I went on a work assignment in Italy and I had my first experience of leading a team. I found that more than anything, I enjoyed helping others grow and solving larger organizational problems. It was also during this time where I realized I had a knowledge gap. In order to be a better leader and move into a formal leadership role, I needed to learn more about how businesses operate. Even though it was extremely valuable, my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering did not teach me other critical aspects of business, such as finance and accounting. I chose the Foster Evening MBA program because it is recognized as one of the best in the region, and allowed me to continue working at the same time.  Another unique aspect to this program is the regular in-person classes and cohort structure which enables students to connect with one another on a deeper level. 

How do you balance family/friends, work and school?

I’m very fortunate to have a very supportive wife and employer. With work, I ensure that I block out my calendar on school nights and  have clear communication with my team so that everyone understands my  commitments outside of work. At home we have a shared family calendar that we use to schedule our activities. I also try to complete assignments as early as possible so that I do not scramble at the end to finish assignments. Having everything planned out has been extremely helpful. I will say that the COVID-19 pandemic has made balancing school and other activities a bit easier because there isn’t much else to do outside of work, school, and family.

How have your fellow classmates influenced your experience in the program so far?

My fellow classmates have been one of the best parts of this experience. Hearing and learning about their stories and perspectives has been invaluable. My entire career has been within Boeing and I’ve mostly been surrounded by engineers, so when I hear from classmates who work in different industries and professions, it really helps me have a more well-rounded view of business.

Is there a faculty member who stands out in your mind as being exceptional?

I personally enjoyed Professor Sarah McVay’s Financial Accounting class. It was evident from her enthusiasm that she really loved the subject and it came through in the way she taught us. Her passion for a subject that some may consider ‘pretty dry’ made each lecture enjoyable and go by pretty quickly.

What have you learned in your experience in the Evening MBA program that you are able to apply to your current role?

Managerial accounting has been valuable because I am now better able to understand what executives are looking for and how they interpret data that we share with them. That said, the most valuable learning for me has come from the classes focused on leadership and team-building as they have provided me with additional tools and techniques to manage and lead teams effectively. Those classes combined with input from other students have really helped me have a better sense of the bigger picture.

Tell us about your experience participating in extracurricular activities or clubs. Which ones would you recommend to other students and why?

Because I have two young children at home (and now the pandemic), I haven’t been too involved in extracurricular activities except for the occasional Wednesday post-lecture happy hour and some of the MBAA activities. I would highly recommend joining the MBAA because their events are pretty central to the MBA experience and it’s a great way to get to know your classmates outside of class.

What is the most challenging part of the MBA?

The most challenging part for me was (and still is) optimizing the effort I put into each class to achieve a desired grade, to support my cohort, and to spend time with my family. There is a point where putting in additional effort in class may not provide the return on the grade one would expect,  and finding this balance can be a challenge. Overall, it’s a personal decision for each student  so I would recommend putting in the effort that you feel you need to make yourself proud of what you have learned.

What are some of your favorite memories of the Evening MBA program so far?

Some of my favorite memories with the Evening MBA have been spending time with my cohort outside of class, getting meals together, and getting to know each other.  Social events such as the Halloween costume party in Fremont was a fun highlight in my first year and was a great way to connect with classmates in a casual setting. I feel like these bonds will be long-lasting and that is exactly what I had hoped for when entering this program.