Editor's Note: In this special edition of the Service Professional Spotlight, outgoing Chair Tom Carpenter interviews new chair Terri Hayes. Enjoy!
A Questionable Taste in Vegetables
Terri Lynn McQuatters Hayes likes asparagus. That fact alone renders superfluous, at least to the interviewer, all that follows.
Terri is the Director of Academic Support and Student Services in Extended Campuses. She manages a staff of fourteen. She holds an MBA from NAU. She is a native of Flagstaff and a graduate of Flagstaff High School. She is married and the mother of two children, Amelia, age six, and David, age four. She and her husband, Kevin, have been married for ten years. Kevin works in Extended Campuses, too, in the technology area, as an Application Systems Analyst and lead programmer. This year Terri also serves as the Chair of the Service Professional Advisory Council. So, Terri, in many ways, is representative of the young professionals—faculty and staff—we meet across campus. She has significant responsibilities on the job and a rich life outside of work.
She enjoys her job in Extended Campuses. “I have a variety of things to do and my days are filled with meetings. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many of the units across campus. We are involved with the student experience from prospecting to graduation.” She started in Extended Campuses in May, 2002. “I think it’s a good fit for me. I like diversity. I switch hats a lot, and I think there’s a pace here that keeps me engaged and interested. It’s not repetitive.”
It’s not uncommon for spouses and partners to work at NAU. Working in the same unit, though, might give some of us pause. As for Terri and her husband Kevin, “In many ways, we don’t intersect at work that much,” Terri explains. “I think we have the boundaries figured out. We don’t talk about work at home. So if we have to talk about work, we have the conversation at work. I think that’s what makes it work.”
Away from work, the Hayes family enjoys being the woods and camping. They also enjoy skiing. Terri has been skiing since she was six years old. She was a racer until high school when “I discovered I could stay up late at night and not have to be up on the mountain early in the morning.” The whole family skis. Last winter her son David got up on skis for the first time.
When asked for advice she might offer to young professionals who aspire to positions of greater responsibility in NAU, she says, “Be patient. Opportunities for plugging in your skill set will come from unexpected directions.” She points to her previous position at NAU as an administrative assistant in the W. A. Franke College of Business.
“I have found my experience working with faculty then has been valuable in my current job,” says Terri. She wouldn’t have ever predicted her career path: “You have to be patient to see where your experience and skill set might be aligned.”
She added, “Be open to opportunities that do present themselves. I don’t have anything profound to offer. NAU is a big organization and there is a lot of interesting work going on.” She encourages everyone to get involved and “be present” at the university. “Participate as much as you can in committees, and events.”
Terri has been a member of the Service Professional Advisory Council for four years. “One of the benefits of SPAC,” Terri says, is “exposure to other folks on campus, exposure to issues, to events, and the opportunity to be at the table where high level discussions are going on. It is also an opportunity to represent your peers in a way that you might not do in your general role.”
This exposure to other people and units on campus enhances opportunities to build a network. “Try to find your network,” Terri says. “I think at first I was intimidated by networking — it sounded very false, like closed-door deals going on. Over time I’ve learned, and mentors have shown me that, really, it’s about identifying good sounding boards. You need internal ones in your own department and you need some outside your department who can help you bounce ideas around, with whom you can safely share information, whom you can trust. Am I crazy? Is there something I don’t see? If you’re open and positive and willing to help, you turn out to be a person people call because you’ll be responsive and it just kind of flourishes.”
What about training? Certainly, she encourages aspiring professionals to take as much formal training as possible, but there is other training to be had, as well. “Like the tough conversation, when you have an employee who isn’t performing effectively. That first time is a training opportunity. You might think afterward, ‘Oh, boy, I blew that conversation,’ but you won’t blow that conversation the next time. As painful as it is, often the training that is the most difficult is the training that is most valuable.”
When asked if she had anything else to add about succeeding as a professional at NAU, she said, “Fred [Hurst, Senior Vice President for Extended Campuses] once told me that often you’re successful if you identify a need and then you actually step up and take care of it.”