Employee Spotlight

Employee Spotlight: Derek Hillestad, Construction Project Management Senior Instructor


Where did you grow up? 

I hail from Lodi, Wisconsin (a town of 3,000 people 25 miles north of Madison).

Where did you attend college? What is your degree in?

I started at Madison Area Technical College taking courses in criminal justice. I then transferred to the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and enrolled in the Recreation Management program. There were a few facility courses there that perked my interest in managing facilities, which inspired me to enroll in graduate school to learn more about sports facilities administration.

I completed my Master of Science degree at Ball State University and had job offers to work in various sports facilities prior to graduation. 

How long have you been working at Dunwoody? 

1 year and 2 months.

Why did you decide to work at Dunwoody?

Teaching, learning, and developing others is my passion and has always motivated me to offer the best version of myself to serve others. I have worked in industry developing staff to take on higher levels of career advancement. I then started teaching adjunct courses in 2011 and my passion for teaching and developing evolved in a classroom setting.

One of the major influencers in deciding to teach at Dunwoody was the opportunity to collaborate with administration on developing a Facilities Operations & Management program, which uses the Dunwoody campus as a learning laboratory.

Dunwoody launched its new Facilities Operations & Management program this year. Why is this program needed? 

Dunwoody has the Upper Midwest’s only two-year program in Facilities Operations & Management that is seeking accreditation from FMAC, the Facility Management industry’s highest benchmark for academic instruction.

In the last year, we have heard from well over 30 companies in the Twin Cities that the need for Facility Managers is entering a critical phase. There are so many retiring professionals and not enough talent to fill the pipeline. If you are a student, this is a great position to be in for employment.

What are a few of your hobbies?

Spending time with my wife and two boys (ages five and seven) is where you can find me when I am not at Dunwoody. Occasionally, I can be found on the golf course when we have great weather.

I am also pursing my Ph.D. in Sustainable Engineering, which takes up a lot of my “free” time.

What is your favorite movie genre? Any all-time favorite movies?

Anything my kids watch. Right now we are into Star Wars, Indiana Jones, “The Great Outdoors,” and Jurassic Park. I also appreciate our military’s efforts and service and enjoy movies like “Memphis Belle,” “Saving Private Ryan”, and “Act of Valor.”

What is your favorite pizza?

Meat lovers!

Fun facts:
  1. I have lived in six states while chasing my career.
  2. I have worked six Super Bowls and two Pro Bowls.
  3. I am a Christian.