The Scot, 48, who guided Falkirk into the Scottish Premier League in 2005 and hometown club Hibernian into Europe in 2009, quit his post as manager at Livingston to be unveiled on Tuesday as successor to Neale Cooper, who quit nearly three weeks ago after Pools had sunk to the bottom of the table with just one league win this season.
Hughes said: "I'm excited by the challenge in front of me. When you mention the stats, it might frighten one or two people off, but I left a job to come here, it's not as if I was out of work and the challenge was one of the reasons I came here.
"For me, the only way is up. I'm 100 per cent convinced that we've got a dressing room good enough to stay in the first division, but what we're going to have to do is get galvanised, get spirited. We're going to get organised and we're going to have to be a real hard team to beat.
"We'll not win every game every week, if we were doing that we'd be playing our football in the Premier League, but I want to bring a culture to this club that you can be proud of. I want to bring pride back to the town because I know the football club and the town and how it mixes. It's a community club and we've got a big part to play to make people happy and the only way you can do that is by winning football matches."
Hughes added: "I'm not here for the short term. If I'm down here for 20 years then I've been a success and hopefully that will be with Hartlepool. I'm going to do what I have to do. If I have to beg, borrow, steal to get success that's what I'll do, but it will be done with good values and I think me and this club go well together."