But looking into the future wasn’t always her life. “I was born in Abilene, Texas – and I grew up on a ranch, with cows, horses and chickens. It was a great learning experience and a wonderful way to grow up, but college wasn’t discussed much.”
With higher education and a broader world view, however, her future began to take shape – but not in the way she first thought it would. Her first “real job” with Valero, in fact, wasn’t behind a desk. She was out in the field – a lot – with Valero’s pipeline group on a measurement team, making sure the amount of petroleum flowing through the pipes was accurate and good to go.
For a young woman with no direct experience in the oil business, looking to make a difference in an industry that struggles with an “old school” reputation, Hannah was a little concerned. Turns out, there was very little truth to that negative reputation.
“It was not an issue at all,” she said. “It turned out that what mattered to the guys on my team was that I knew my stuff – not my age or my gender.”
It also didn’t hurt that Hannah happens to be really good at whatever she is doing (not to mention a degree in Chemistry that brought ‘street cred’ and a ton of value to her team). Valero colleagues welcomed Hannah without hesitation, and fully supported her learning curve. Along the way, she learned the power of having amazing teachers (aka “mentors.”)
“I’ve had managers in my career here, who I would also call mentors — mostly men, actually — who were generous in sharing what they knew, and who made sure that we got full credit for the work we did. In fact, when we did good work, it felt like they were almost bragging on our behalf! And that means a lot, especially when you’re starting a new job or a new assignment.”
Now, if you’re wondering how Hannah joined Valero in the first place, don’t expect a straight path. She actually entered college with a dream of dentistry. She liked the science of it, but when she got her first experience of, well, blood – that was the end of that.
So, she did what many students do and decided to pivot. She earned a degree in chemistry and then, at the suggestion of an early mentor, one of her professors, chased her MBA. The program required students to complete an internship – and months later, Valero’s Marketing and Supply team was her home for the summer.
Why Valero? Well, turns out the best companies don’t just promise a challenging career. They also care about employees’ overall health and wellness. That means a lot at any age. “I was just another struggling grad student – and Valero’s internship not only paid well, it came with health insurance. Most of all, I liked the feel of the company.”
That “feeling” was an exceptional work culture that really spoke to her, she said. Valero was a place where a young career professional could start out and move up with hard work, unflinching dedication and an aptitude to learn – fast. At Valero, Hannah learned that the best employers look out for their teams, and take care of one another. A place where – as she soon found out – the CEO of the company is just as liable to stop by your desk as any peer or mentor would be. Just to hear how it’s going.
Six years in, Hannah has stayed at Valero because that same sense of family at work was also true outside the office: When she hits the gym with her work mates; when she and her colleagues give time to support Valero’s many United Way campaigns and volunteer efforts in San Antonio; and when she coaxes co-workers to support her side project, Florecer Femme, an organization dedicated to helping empower young women. Fast forward a bit, and Hannah’s energy for good has led this still-growing professional to the Executive Board of United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. All at the ripe age of 29.