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News & Press: MSS News

MSS Spotlight: Rena Butler

Thursday, September 28, 2017   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Ebonique Ellis
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Rena Butler, is the incoming President at Maryland Society of Surveyors. She is currently employed with Precision Measurements as Project Manager.


What is your background?


I come from a large family. I am the youngest of 8 children. My parents had 4 boys and 4 girls. I grew up with my dad running a Hardwood Flooring business out of our home.  Every day, the guys would come in and gather around the table to get their assignments, load their trucks with supplies and go to work. Then at the end of the day come back and debrief my dad on the days progress. So surveying was a very comfortable environment for me. My career started in 1983 as a draftsperson before Autocad was the preferred platform. In those early days, I spent time in the office drafting, at the courthouse doing research, at the county as a runner and in the field doing location surveys. Up until 2003 I had worked for 5 different companies and gained equal experience in both surveying and engineering. In 2003 I made a commitment to Surveying as a career path. I moved through the ranks as a Filed Coordinator, Project Manager, became a Licensed Land Surveyor, Assistant Director of Surveys and then Director of Surveys.


How did you get into surveying?

My sister-in-law had worked in surveys and climbed up to project manager status. She then started a MBE and taught me how to hand draft. She had decided to close her business to pursue another career so she reached out to a colleague at John E. Harms and Associates, Inc. about hiring me as a trainee. That was my first job in a survey department. I was artistic in high school so it was a good fit. I was trained to hand draft by one of the best technical surveyors at the time.


What is it about a career in surveying that continues to motivate you today?


I like all aspects of it. In the early days of hand drafting I loved the artistry of the work I was asked to do. I loved to create and have a finished product. I was naturally good at it so it helped build my confidence. I love a good mystery so I loved to build the deed mosaics and solve the mysteries. I love to learn so I loved learning the new technologies as they were introduced to me. I also enjoyed the interaction with coworkers and clients. As time passed I learned that I enjoyed dealing with the crews, clients and managing projects. What motivates me today is the opportunity to serve through my interactions with other people and to make a difference in other’s lives through partnership, mentorship and leadership.


Who has mentored and influenced you in your career?


First of all, my first drafting trainer was Jack Baker at Harms and Associates. He taught me so much in 18 months that it was incredible. He had a huge impact on my skills. Finley Ranson Hired me at Harms but I also worked with Russ Lowman. Charles D. Storm, P. E., was my first mentor who had a lot of faith in me and gave me opportunities I would not had otherwise. He had a small engineering firm and I did all his survey work as well as a lot of engineering. I wore many hats and learned a lot about project management and administrative duties. My time with him helped me step outside of my box and be confident enough to handle project management from proposals to close outs. Vincent A. Burke was the second mentor I was blessed to have. Vince believed in me and encouraged my growth and gave me opportunities to grow my skill set that helps me to this day. He encouraged me to become licensed and supported and mentored me through the process. I can still hear his voice saying “You still have a lot to learn” and I would tell him “that’s what I am counting on you for”.  I am still learning every day. Lastly Peggy White, P.E. for giving me the opportunity to run a survey department and for the training and support I needed on the business side to be successful.


How has MSS influenced your career?


It has been a wonderful networking opportunity. I have gained friendships with colleagues that I wouldn’t had otherwise known. I have met other surveyors from all over the state. It is the best networking someone in our profession could want to be a part of. Throughout the years I have learned a lot from the different events that offered CPCs on a wide variety of topics and technologies.


Why did you decide to become active in MSS and rise to become President?


In 2012, the owner of the company I was working for at the time required each of the upper management personnel to get involved in some aspect of our various professions. So I reached out to the then President James Shaw and asked how I could get involved. He placed me on a few committees. Then I was nominated by Barry Hoyle for the position of Secretary. After that it was just climbing through the ranks year after year. I was so grateful to be licensed and I wanted to give back and serve on a board that supports our profession. I hope to be a valued addition to a long list of Presidents who served before me. 


What are your goals and aspirations as President of MSS?


I believe when people are members of a society they want to feel they are heard and their voice and opinions matter. My goal as President is to listen to the members and respond with actions that help them feel there is a value in their membership. I will continue to support the Future Surveyors program to help grow the future of our profession.  I want to continue to seek ways to bring more benefit to the membership. I also want to lead and serve the MSS board with humility and grace while helping to strengthen and grow our community.   


What are your thoughts on becoming the first woman President of MSS?


I am very honored to become the 2017-2018 President of MSS. I really don’t think too much about gender. I just like being one of the surveyors on the board. I have had several board members over the years say to me “You know, if you stay the course, that you will be the first female President of MSS”. I thought “Wow! That’s amazing”. I am very excited about this opportunity and honored to hold that place in the society’s history. I hope my tenure will encourage other women to get involved and serve on the board in the future.


Would you recommend a career in surveying to a young person, particularly a young woman?  Why?


Absolutely, I would recommend young men and women to become involved in surveying. It is a career path that allows you to play with lots of cool toys and to learn about history and the future all in one career. It's inside and outside work that is diverse and engaging in a way that few professions are.  


What do you like to do away from work?


Well, I'm single so if it’s not housework or yard work (I love to cut grass on my John Deere) in my free time, I like to spend time with my kids and my fur-babies (3 dogs). As I said I have a large family so most Sundays I spend going to church with my siblings on the Eastern Shore. When I was 13 years old, my dad had me changing tires on his car from snow to summer while he and my brothers watched. So that experience made me very handy. So I have a passion for home improvements and love to paint, remodel and do DIY projects. 


Julia A. Rice says...
Posted Thursday, September 28, 2017
Congratulations Rena, you will be a great MSS President!

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