Director of Innovation and CEO
Gillian Hayes comes to Aviaâ with a PhD in Computer Science and almost twenty years experience in technology and innovation. She’s currently on sabbatical from her job as a tenured professor in the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. With her deep knowledge of data management, she provides a crucial role within Aviaâ, helping the company improve cost and efficiency for private jet owners through use of data analytics.
During her undergraduate years at Vanderbilt University, it became clear Gillian had a gift for creating software. After working for two prestigious consulting firms—Deloitte Consulting and Avanade, Inc.–she attended a PhD program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. From the start, her research focused on design and innovation that would improve people’s experience in life. “I always approach my work with the question: How can we do things to help people make their lives better?” Gillian said. After graduate school, she started her career as a researcher and professor at UC Irvine, focusing on design of innovative technological solutions. But Gillian always kept one foot in industry, doing consulting work for Roundarch (now Isobar) and other companies.
In 2017, Gillian decided to take a sabbatical from teaching and research to bring her expertise to Aviaâ. “I like to go back and forth between academia and industry,” she explained. “I bring current, cutting-edge academic research into industry in a way that is so needed! I find that often companies spend large amounts of money and time conducting their own research when researchers have already published everything we need on the same subject. At Aviaâ, my fellow directors trust my expertise, and my ability to access the research that is already out there.” This saves the company a tremendous amount of money and time, while keeping leadership apprised of the latest research findings in pertinent fields.
In her free time, Gillian loves to hang out with her husband and their two young sons. Saturday morning walks to their local Farmers’ Market for shopping and a “train” ride are a family tradition. Gillian also loves to make elaborate cakes. A true designer, she’s more interested in the challenge of a cake’s construction than its taste. Her favorite cake designs include one of a group of woodland creatures and another of the planet Mars. “Mars was a challenge,” Gillian said with a smile. “I had to make the bottom layer out of Rice Krispy treats to stabilize it and the top out of red velvet cake.”
A lifelong learner, Gillian is developing a passion for aviation and learning the industry thanks to the support of her colleagues at Aviaâ and the broader aviation community. Gillian’s experience in industry and academia, and her expertise in design, data analysis and 21st century technologies make her an invaluable member of the Aviaa team.