James Avey, PhD
2016 CWU Distinguished University Professor, Research
Dr. James Avey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management. His areas of expertise are Leadership and Human Resource Management.
In his words (February 2013): I am a married, father, Christian and professor. I have been teaching at CWU since 2007 and loved every minute of it. It is an amazing job which I feel blessed to have had. I love living here in Ellensburg on a few acres where my wife, Christy, and I raise our 4 children. Personally, I enjoy hunting big game, spending time with my family and traveling internationally having been to about 35 different countries.
I also love to eat. Spicy chicken pad Thai from Sugar Thai and Pho from Golden Dragon top the list in town. On any average day you can catch me playing with my kids or hanging out with college students talking about life’s major decisions such as who to marry, how to decide, what job to take and where to live. You may also find me hiding in my office writing a paper. I have been blessed to conduct research with some of the finest minds in my field including those scholars here at CWU in the department of Management. We are proud of the concept that we “punch above our weight” so to speak in terms of our research output in papers, presentations and books. All in all, I love it here and right now wouldn’t choose to be in any other place.
What is something that most people do not know about you?
Most people don’t know that my favorite topic to read about, write about and teach on has nothing to do with my area of expertise. I love the topic of theology. Ruminating on some of life’s deepest mysteries is very fulfilling to me. I often feel I waste my time with students if ALL I talk about is business. My desire is to equip people for life, job included, but mostly life in general. This leads to conversations about what makes a person, how decisions are made and what is the purpose of life. My reading and teaching outside the University often revolve around these topics.
Where was the most interesting place you have visited?
I had my passport taken by a guy with an uzi in Slovakia...that was fun. Getting arrested in Florence won’t be forgotten. Getting robbed by a little kid in the Roman subways, that was fun. Standing on the beaches of Normandy, that was sobering. Snorkeling in Fiji, I’ll never forget. Building an orphanage in Haiti, humbling. Playing with sting rays in Grand Cayman, terrifying. Hugging my Dad at the Grand Canyon before he died of cancer, breath-taking.
Describe your teaching style
Students generally say something like this: “Avey, yeah he’s a nice guy, fun stories in class that really bring stuff to life, but man is he hard on exam day.” I’d say that is pretty accurate. I don’t consider myself an excellent teacher by any means but learning does seem to happen more if I tell “war stories” from my personal experiences on topics in class. I think the College of Business is one of the most difficult colleges on campus for students and I try to go well out of my job description to set them up for a solid career of service for taking on the challenge of being here. In sum, I talk a lot and hope something sticks!
Provide a useful interview tip
Organizations have savvied up to the best interview techniques and questions which are structural, standardized, situational and behavioral questions. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, not what someone says they WOULD do, but what someone has done. Therefore, candidates need to answer these questions (that usually starts with something like “tell me about a time when…”) with the acronym STAR in mind. S-Situation-define the situation. T-Target-define the objective or what it was you wanted to achieve. This shows the employer you are goal oriented. A-Action-what action did YOU take. Not the manager or team member, but you!. R-Result-what happened as a result of your behavior (hint: choose a situation with a positive outcome). Follow up with a thank you note and a thank you email.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Building a marriage with a woman I adore. Raising kids by God’s grace who seem to be ok. After God, my family is the most important thing in my life. I believe a marriage is not something you find, it is something you build through humility, hard work, and resilience in pain…and let me tell you, it is worth it! Seeing my mistakes in my kids (the little mirrors in life) is humbling and sobering. Everyone is watching Daddy, be the man you need to be!
What are you currently reading?
- Books by dead people are best.
- Freedom of the Will by Jonathon Edwards
- The Religious Affections by Edwards
- Narnia (with my kids)
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
- Why Business Matters to God by Van Duzer
- Concise Theology by JI Packer
- The ESPN website!
Quotes that influenced me greatly
Quote from my mentor at Boeing: “I may not be the smartest guy here, but I can outwork anyone”.
Quote from my Dad: “Two things in life son. Decide what’s right, then do what’s right. The second one is the hardest.”