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Lifelong Learning - Alumni honoree merges business and technology

Jim Hayes, winner of the 2024 Distinguished Service Award from the Daniels School of Business, was at the intersection of STEM and business before it became a staple of today’s degree programs.

“I lived in suburban Chicago and was looking for colleges around the Midwest when I visited Purdue. It had the kind of environment and culture that I was looking for,” he says. “The Industrial Management program, or what is now the Integrated Business and Engineering program, was a marriage of business and engineering even back in the day. That was really important to me.”

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Jim Hayes met his wife, Barbi Hayes (BA ’84), when they were both undergraduates at Purdue.

Hayes, who also earned an honors degree in economics, enjoyed the personalized attention and quality instruction he received from Purdue faculty.

He was also a member of Acacia fraternity, eventually serving as president. “It was a good chance to interact with a lot of likeminded individuals and work together toward common goals,” he says. “It was also a great learning experience to work with different personalities and agendas and getting them all to coalesce, all of which served me well in my career.

“The other thing that Purdue helped drive home to me was the importance of being a good listener. It's an underappreciated skill to actually be an active listener and take your time to interpret and appreciate somebody else's point of view.”

In addition, Hayes met his wife at Purdue, where she was a member of the women’s tennis team. “Watching her play is certainly an indelible memory for me,” he says.

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Jim Hayes is presented the Daniels School’s 2024 Distinguished Service Award by Dean Jim Bullard.

Hayes interned with an insurance company as an undergraduate and interviewed with several banks in his senior year before connecting with Accenture (formerly Arthur Andersen.) “During the interview, they introduced me to the consulting side of their business and promised to teach me the latest in technology,” he says. “They had great people and great training and you kept learning month after month, year after year. You could feel yourself growing and being challenged to work with different clients. I stayed for nearly 34 years and never stopped learning.”

Hayes, who retired from Accenture in 2017, held several leadership roles during his tenure, including managing director of alliances; managing director for platform capability in India, China and the Philippines; managing director of the Global Oracle Practice; and managing director of the North America SAP Practice.

In these roles, Hayes oversaw the development of critical selling and delivery assets across the SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, SaaS vendors, and custom advanced technology capability. He and his team played a key role in selling and delivering high-value enterprise software applications to Accenture's clients around the world. He was charged with expanding Accenture's thought leadership related to the application software landscape and with building delivery capabilities.

"There's a point in your career where you learn from the people that you work for, and then there's a point in your career where you start learning from people who work for you." — Jim Hayes

Throughout his career, Hayes relied on his Purdue education to advance solutions. “Everything that happened to me at Purdue happened for a reason,” he says. “I particularly liked the focus on analytical and quantitative skills. I think it collectively prepared me for what ended up being a very rewarding professional career.”

As his career with Accenture came to an end, Hayes made the effort to help those who followed in his footsteps. “There's a point in your career where you learn from the people that you work for, and then there's a point in your career where you start learning from people that work for you,” he says. “I was learning from the people who worked for me and it was great to continue working with young people and to be challenged to deal with the shift changes in technology and business that we invariably face.”

He also gives back to Purdue, serving on the Daniels School’s Dean’s Advisory Council and supporting scholarships and other initiatives. “My wife and I have been very fortunate in our careers, so it makes sense to share that with the next generation, particularly students who might not attend college without it,” he says. “It’s been rewarding to see the fruits of that giving and knowing you played a small part in their success.”