Chris Budeski, Bozeman, Class of 2008
Interviewed by Anna Rosenberry, Bozeman, Class of 2020
Chris Budeski, a Civil Engineer and Class of 2008 alum, credits Leadership Montana with spurring him to run for local office on the Bozeman City Commission, and teaching him to really listen to the people he lives and works with every day.
Chris was a Great Falls kid, growing up in the family’s construction business and graduating from Great Falls High in 1976. He started out at Montana State University in Bozeman right out of high school, but decided to return home after a year and work in the family business instead. Ten years later, after working his way “up the food chain” to a Superintendent position, he saw that he needed more construction skills if he wanted to continue to advance. He took the entrance exam for a program at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell for Construction Engineer Technicians. When a faculty member saw Chris’ exam scores, he encouraged Chris to set his sights farther – and get his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.
While in the Portland area as a professional engineer, Chris worked on over 100 McDonald’s Restaurant projects in seven years as part of their corporate expansion.
When his two daughters were toddlers, it was time to return to Montana. Chris and Sandy chose Bozeman to settle in and raise Katherine and Sarah, who are both now Montana State University Alumni themselves.
Chris really enjoyed Leadership Montana. He said it was hard, but it was worth it. Their opening session in Big Sky really left an impression on Chris; it was a room full of amazing people – highly skilled, qualified, diverse. And, they were all so humble. “That’s the sign of true leaders to me. Humble people. It brought tears to my eyes.” Chris says that his Class of 2008 LMT experience really helped him respect that side of himself – appreciating that great leadership is emotional.
Chris values that Leadership Montana has been able to stay politically neutral and have classes with a balanced make-up of participants. He sees the role of Leadership Montana as an organization that “encourages and motivates individuals to step up” and “empowers individuals to be great leaders.”