After earning a B.A. in chemistry from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Rene Butler, Odessa native, spent five years teaching math to junior high students in her home city. While she said her time as a teacher was "completely worthwhile and life-changing and something that I was very glad that I did," she also realized it wasn't something she wanted to pursue as a lifetime profession.
So it was back to school —this time the University of Texas El Paso to earn a degree in metallurgical and materials engineering — a decision which ultimately led to her next career opportunity.
"When Vallourec came to campus interviewing for job opportunities, my professor strongly encouraged me to talk to them and I was very glad I did," she recalled. Accepting a position at the Youngstown location in 2009 introduced her to a completely different work environment: no longer in the classroom with kids but in the Melt Shop where they make steel.
More than just the difference in the environment, Rene was struck by how, from the very beginning, her actions were making a difference in overall operations. "When I was first hired on, Vallourec was just starting this huge project on revamping our continuous caster, and a large part of it was my project — my first one straight out of engineering school," she said.
She credits Rodrigo Corbari, Operations Technology, for helping her make the transition, and who she said has continued to be a mentor to her. "Rodrigo immediately treated our working relationship like we were equals and strongly encouraged me to think on my own, to come up with my own ideas and then empowered me to make those ideas happen. It makes a big difference having that open communication," she said. "He was really supportive, helping me build my confidence. I felt like from day one I was making a significant impact for the company in a positive way."
She noted that the caster project was representative of the opportunities and expectations for her job. "We gear our projects to be motivating. That's part of why I chose Vallourec over my other options. "
It's the attitude of taking ownership for what is seen and then acting on it that has continued to surprise Rene. She says, "I admire the active role my coworkers take in all aspects: safety, quality and production. That level of personal ownership and responsibility—that's what they expect from me and what keeps me motivated and impactful in the projects on which I work."