MSUB Alumni selected as 40 Under Forty winners

Danielle Hughes

Business Administration/Information Systems, 2000


Billlings refinery IT site lead, Phillips 66


Danielle HugheGrowing up, Danielle Hughes first learned about computers by playing games on her family’s Commodore 64.


“You plugged it into the TV, and you typed in the commands,” Hughes said of the machine that has been described as the Model T of personal computers because it was affordable and technologically advanced for its era. Some 17 million units were sold, according to the website


“When I went to college, computers were a big thing coming up,” Hughes said, adding that she was most interested in programming, but less so in hardware.


“I’m not a techie, computer nerd kind of person. I probably couldn’t take a computer apart,” she said. “But programming was something that was easy for me. I like the logic, thinking things through and learning how to make things work.”


Describe how you got where you are in your work today: I started as an intern while I was still in college converting documents from WordPerfect and Lotus to Word and Excel. When I graduated I was offered a full-time job as an application analyst — not converting documents, thank goodness. With a little bit of luck, a lot of guidance, a lot of growing as a person and a lot of hard work I ended up with the role of IT Site Lead for the Billings Refinery.


What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Working in the ever-changing and growing world of IT, it seems like you finish up with one major project and you move right onto the next big thing. It’s always something different and it’s always something new. You have to be willing to change and grow right alongside the technology you support.


What’s the best business advice you have received? When I became Site Lead I was told that I needed to have broad shoulders and thick skin. At the time I remember thinking “I’ve been in the refining industry for quite a while, I can handle this”… I had no idea how valuable that advice would be.


Who gave you that advice? One of my past supervisors.


Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I’ve lived in Montana my whole life and still haven’t quite adjusted to the cold winters we have. I hate to see anyone, especially children, without warm winter clothes. Every year at work we donate hats, jackets, scarves and gloves to a local school. I would love to see every school in our community receive a similar donation to help keep the children warm.


Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? If I can look back at the end of the day and feel a sense of accomplishment as I walk out the door then it has been a successful day. I used to work construction in the summer with my dad and brother and loved walking away from the house we were building at the end of the day and thinking “Wow, I helped build that!”


Which living person do you most admire? My Aunt Cece — I have never met a more thoughtful person. She has never forgotten a birthday, anniversary, or any other special event in my life. She makes everyone she knows feel special by letting them know she is thinking about them. I can only hope to be as thoughtful as she is.


What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being able to balance my career and my family and being able to do it with a positive attitude and a smile on my face.


I’m happiest when I’m… Anywhere the temperature is over 80 degrees and I’m with family and friends.



Article credit: Billings Gazette
Photo credit: James Woodcock, Billings Gazette


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