An avid “peak-bagger,” Brett Hathaway spends much of his free time summiting mountains. While his own career path has seemed like a long trail traversing varying professional pursuits, Hathaway—now an assistant professor of global supply chain in the BYU Marriott School of Business—feels uniquely equipped to provide perspective to students in their own journeys.
Growing up near Sacramento, California, and from a young age, Hathaway explored diverse interests and got involved in a variety of activities. He captained the knowledge bowl team, played football and basketball, and enjoyed running track. “Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of career guidance; it wasn’t readily apparent to me what I was supposed to do,” Hathaway says. However, he remained hopeful.
Hathaway spent much of his next ten years trying different things, earning his bachelor’s degree in international business from BYU–Hawaii along the way. “I tried and I struck out on various things. I lasted one week in construction. I have a real estate license that I never used. I made some career turns that were not a good fit for me,” Hathaway says.
After working in call centers for a time, Hathaway decided to go back to school to earn an MBA from BYU Marriott. “Getting my MBA was a big, educated leap of faith that I had to make,” Hathaway says.
With his master’s degree in hand, Hathaway returned to managing call centers, but this time in Salt Lake City. While call center management wasn’t anywhere on his list of top career choices, he realized that he could enjoy his career as he made the most of his circumstances. “I developed a passion within that space,” Hathaway says.
As manager, Hathaway focused on streamlining operations, inspiring employees, and discovering incentives that produced the highest levels of productivity. “I developed great relationships with my employees. We helped each other reach our goals,” he says.
After ten years in call centers, he decided to make a change. “I became motivated to go back to school and get a PhD to study challenges I met as a call center manager,” Hathaway says. With a PhD, he hoped to study how to help call centers deliver quality service—minimize wait times and optimize handoffs, for example. He learned to appreciate this field and now he wanted to improve it.
Hathaway moved his family across the country to complete a PhD program at the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
After graduating, he taught business analytics and operations management for three years at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. “I’ve enjoyed teaching. I’ve always felt a special connection with students because I was a business school student once, someone who pursued a broad, pragmatic degree that appeals to someone with many skillsets,” Hathaway says. “I see myself in my students.”
As someone who has summitted many mountain peaks—250, with a life goal to summit 1,000—Hathaway understands the rewards that come from determined and consistent efforts to pursue goals. “I stand at the bottom, I see the summit, and I want to pay the price to get the view at the top.”
He adds, “I’m proud of what I have accomplished, and who I have become in the process.” Knowing that making decisions can be challenging, Hathaway remembers his source of guidance. “Hopefully I can help inspire my students to stay close to the Lord. Staying close to the Lord will help you concentrate your career path,” says Hathaway.
Written by Jake Holt