Hannah Butcher is from Ashburn, VA and will be graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology (EIT) option and a minor in Psychology.

Hannah is currently deciding between two job offers: One at Road Runner Wrecker Service – which would focus on consulting, business development, and analytics – and one at United Rentals -which would focus on sales – both of which are based in Northern Virginia.

We recently asked her to share both her Virginia Tech and Pamplin journeys with us.

Why did you choose Virginia Tech? When and why did you choose entrepreneurship and innovation as part of your path?

I chose Virginia Tech because it was the “it” school for me. Growing up, I had a neighbor/babysitter who I really admired because she was intelligent, poised, articulate, and an overall great person. She went to Virginia Tech, and since I was a child, I’ve held the University to a high standard. In high school, as I started to take the college search more seriously, learning more about Virginia Tech and touring the campus only increased my desire to attend the school. The Virginia Tech community was my favorite aspect; the students had a mutuality and connection that I desperately wanted to be a part of.

Late in my sophomore year, I settled on my Management major. I was previously a Psychology major, and since I still love the area of study, I kept it as my minor. I transitioned to Management because I wanted to be proficient at working with others, especially in a business environment, and my dad was the biggest influence in that decision. He is an entrepreneur in its truest definition. When he was about my age (21), he started his own towing business with just one truck and one cell phone. He taught himself everything about entrepreneurship: How to work with people, how to seek opportunity, and how to work hard even when success seems impossible. Today he is the founder and CEO of Road Runner Wrecker Service, which was an integral part of my childhood experience.

The concept of working with people in a business environment has constantly been part of my life, as I distinctly remember listening in on his phone calls as a kid. I also learned the difficulty of working with others to run a productive business. As my dad says, “Work is easy; people are the hard part.” The complexity of business in terms of the person-to-person interactions is fascinating, especially when looking at management’s role.

I chose entrepreneurship because I had a natural preference for it, perhaps from its influence on my childhood or just from my own personal connotations associated with an entrepreneur. After reviewing all of the options available within the Management Department, I just knew I’d enjoy the EIT program the most, and I was right!

Were there any specific classes that you remember as validating your EIT major choice to date?

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed my Developing Entrepreneurial Ventures class with Professor Andy Schaudt. Although I had already declared my EIT major, taking that class this semester really sealed the deal for me. I loved how immersed I was in the curriculum, and I even had the opportunity to pursue my own entrepreneurial venture as a final team project. Professor Schaudt gave us enough autonomy to truly experience and enjoy entrepreneurship while simultaneously teaching us valuable concepts.

Has there been a faculty or staff member within Pamplin and/or the MGT department who has served as a mentor or source of inspiration for you during your entrepreneurship and innovation journey? 

So many faculty members have been helpful throughout my years in Pamplin. I firmly believe that every professor is there because they want their students to succeed in the business world. Everyone who has mentored or taught me has done so using their humor, intelligence, and raw talent. I’ll never forget Dr. Keown’s humor while teaching complex topics, Professor Wertalik’s creative marketing classes, Professor Deck’s Product & Quality Leadership demonstrations, or Professor Schaudt’s faith in me to rely on my passions and merit to create my own work. These instructors have all served as an inspiration to me during my time at Virginia Tech, and their extensive experience in the marketing and management fields is extremely admirable.

What are some specific skills that you have gained from your EIT courses?

I have gained so many skills from the EIT courses I’ve taken that I almost don’t even know where to begin. Soft skills were a huge one. I like to believe I had soft skills before I even learned what they were, but I never knew how incredibly important they are not only in my career, but also in life. Ethical leadership is also extremely important. Perhaps my favorite lesson I’ve learned through the EIT program is that it is normal – and okay – to fail; failures are even encouraged at times, as they show progress and effort. Since my biggest fear entering the business world is failure, this lesson stood out to me the most. Professors have had experience with their own business ideas, career paths, and life journeys and have shared that imperfect process in such a way that contributed greatly to my learning.

What advice would you provide to students thinking about pursuing this program?

If you’re thinking about pursuing the EIT program, do it. If you’re unsure about what field you’re looking to enter after graduation, this program is a perfect way to explore the many different options available to you. Entrepreneurship is both challenging and rewarding. The program’s faculty and staff are well-equipped to be your mentors and to help you overcome any challenges you may face during the process. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my career while simultaneously expanding my network to include EIT program contacts that will last throughout my professional life. Pursuing the EIT program has been one of the best choices I’ve made at Virginia Tech.

What/who is your inspiration for leadership?

My dad has always been my biggest inspiration and role model for leadership. Being the owner of his own business, he has taught me a lot about being an ethical, hard-working leader. He constantly shows me that when you put forth your best effort and have good intentions, the world will work in your favor so long as you don’t give up.

Name some of the internships, if any, that you had during your Virginia Tech journey.

I’ve had two summer internships. Between my sophomore and junior years, I worked as a Business Development Intern at Road Runner Wrecker Service. In this position, I worked with the Sales & Marketing Intern on countless projects. Together, we created merchandise with contracted designers, worked with computer experts to revamp the company website, conducted research on the market for towing, competitors’ skills, and pitfalls, coordinated sponsorships with charities to increase outreach, and built contracts to be vendors for different organizations, the most notable of which was the Virginia Department of Transportation. We also engaged with community authorities and local governments to learn Road Runner’s position within procurement and the local community. This role was truly what I made of it, as I had a lot of autonomy. I had to opportunity to gain hands-on experience, as I got to watch tows happen, ride with drivers, and observe mechanics repair different trucks. Shadowing the CEO – my dad – also introduced me to his role in a way that could not be observed while I was growing up. I had some foundational entrepreneurship knowledge that allowed me to view the business through a different lens and more deeply understand how different company functions work together to help the business flourish.

My second internship was with United Rentals, and I worked there during the summer before my senior year. Although United Rentals and Road Runner are in very similar industries, I had a vastly different experience. I first met United Rentals at Business Horizons, where I struck up a great conversation with their recruiter, Susan. We enjoyed talking about empowering women in the workplace, especially in male-dominated environments. I was attracted to the internship because I loved the company’s industry and ability to offer hands-on experience. Working as a Sales Intern, I followed a curriculum where I was able to see every part of the corporation at the branch level. A large portion of my internship was also spent in the field, where I worked on different types of rental equipment and became a certified forklift and aerial equipment operator. Overall, I truly valued my time with United Rentals.

Photo by Patty Vitsupakorn.

If you could give a testimonial about Pamplin and/or the Management Department, what would you say?

The Management Department and EIT curriculum have shown me that with hard work, passion, and the possession of a good heart and good intentions, you can go far. I’ve found that some of the most talented and accomplished professors at Virginia Tech are also the easiest to talk to, as they are kind and want the best for their students. These people came from the Management Department at Pamplin, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Do you have any other words of wisdom or insights about Virginia Tech, Pamplin, Management, or your broader college journey?

Thank you to both Pamplin and Virginia Tech for challenging and supporting me in becoming my best academic self. Thank you to the professors, advisors, and other faculty and staff members who have served as my mentors throughout the past four years. The Management Department has been so supportive of its students’ journeys and future careers, and I am very lucky to have been a part of that within the broader Virginia Tech community.