BHP Senior Leads Texas Rock Climbing to National Victories

will_1BHP senior, Will Butcher, has found a unique passion outside of his studies in the program: rock climbing. The Plano native is now president of Texas Rock Climbing team on campus, which became a UT affiliated organization just two years ago. Learn more about how Will has managed to juggle four majors (BHP, Finance, Plan II and Spanish) and lead the team to a national victories.

Why did you choose UT, and why did you specifically choose BHP?

I always thought about going to UT, because there is a long tradition of UT graduates in my family, including my older brother, my dad and both of my dad’s parents. After I found out that I had been accepted into both BHP and Plan II, I knew that I wanted to go to UT, because I was aware of the great reputation of both programs. I do not think that I could have chosen a better place to go to school than UT as a student in both BHP and Plan II.

How long have you been rock climbing?

will_2I have been climbing since I was nine years old. I got into climbing after I went to a summer camp at a climbing gym in Dallas called Exposure. The coach of the youth climbing team there invited me to join the team, and I begged my parents to let me on. I started competing with the team when I was 10 and have been climbing and competing ever since. Climbing has allowed me to travel around the country and around the world to compete, and I have had the honor to represent the U.S. in the Youth World Championships for climbing two times, first in Austria when I was 14, and again in Ecuador when I was 15. Before coming to UT, climbing on a team, training, and competing had been a huge part of my life for a long time, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to continue climbing and competing at UT. My freshman year at UT was the year the UT climbing team was established and the first year UT competed in the Collegiate Climbing Series, which was started in 2009 by John Myrick, who currently coaches the UT climbing team and has been coaching climbers in Austin for over a decade. UT currently has the largest climbing collegiate climbing team in the country and has had a very successful track record, winning all three consecutive National Championships it has competed in since the founding of the club team at UT.

What is your role within Texas Rock Climbing?

I took over as president of Texas Rock Climbing my sophomore year, becoming the second president of the club, which had just become an official sport club at UT the preceding fall. I was president of the club for two years before handing the reins over to my successor this past spring. As president, I led a group of eight other officers who helped manage the club of 50 active members. We hold practices four days each week at the Austin Rock Gym and at the Gregory Gym climbing wall. Practices involve climbing, strength training and running. As a club we volunteer for local youth climbing competitions and participate in trail-building projects at climbing areas around Austin, like Reimers Ranch and Enchanted Rock. We also host two competitions each year, and our spring competition is a Collegiate Climbing Series competition that counts toward the regional score for CCS competitors and teams.

Texas Rock Climbing took first place at the National Collegiate Climbing Series in 2012, 2013 and 2014. How did it feel to have the UT tower lit in honor of the team’s accomplishments?

will_3Lighting up the Tower is one of the proudest moments a UT student can have! It is such an honor to see the Tower burning orange because of an achievement you had a hand in. Coming from a line of UT alumni, I have a strong sense of the value of UT traditions, and my family was incredibly excited to see the climbing team light up the Tower. Looking back on my time with the UT climbing team, I am so proud of all of the hard work of our team members and the amazing bond that has formed among team members, and I am honored to feel that I had a role in building the team and so grateful to have formed those connections and had so much fun doing something I love. UT is full of talented people who are successful in a wide range of pursuits, and I hope that Texas Rock Climbing will continue a legacy of climbing success at UT for many years to come.

What is your favorite part about the sport of rock climbing?

Rock climbing is not just a hobby to me. Climbing has been a passion for me, and my experiences with climbing have profoundly shaped who I am as a person. The things I have learned through climbing carry over into all aspects of my life. Through climbing, I learned the meaning of dedication and hard work, how to visualize success and overcome obstacles, how to step out of my comfort zone, how to handle both success and failure, how to have fun and enjoy the present while staying intensely focused and motivated, and so many other lessons that have helped me become who I am.

One of my favorite parts about climbing is that it takes you all kinds of places that you would never visit otherwise. Climbing has allowed me to travel around the world and to experience beautiful natural areas and a diverse set of people drawn together by their passion for climbing.

Besides rock climbing, what are you passionate about?

I am currently writing my Plan II senior thesis, and I have had the opportunity to study microfinance in-depth. Since freshman year, I have been drawn to thinking about how business can do good for the world, and I became interested in the idea of social entrepreneurship. The tension between the profit-motive and social responsibility has been a concept I have spent a lot of time thinking about at UT, with many of my classes providing new viewpoints from which to view the issue. Microfinance proposes to offer a win-win solution to world poverty while also profiting investors. In this way, microfinance offers an example of how capitalism can be used for social good beyond the goal of maximizing wealth creation. My thesis will examine microfinance and will seek to understand how microfinance might or might not play a role in sustainable economic development in developing countries around the world. I will travel to Ecuador in August to conduct research for my thesis, which I will complete this December.

What has been your favorite BHP course and why?

My favorite BHP course was MIS with Konana my freshman year. It was my first experience of what BHP classes were like, and I remember feeling excited that my classes would be all of the things that I had hoped for: rigorous yet engaging, filled with eager and intelligent peers, and taught by outstanding faculty. I had a lot of fun solving challenging problems in Excel and learning valuable analytical skills right away freshman year.

What are your plans for after you leave the 40 Acres?

This summer, I will be an investment banking analyst at Jefferies in Houston. I am really excited for the summer, and I plan to pursue a full-time analyst position to begin next year after graduation.














Alumni Spotlight: Rod Morris – VP of Marketing and Operations for Opower, Class of 1995

Rod MorrisRoderick Morris is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Opower, the global leader in cloud-based consumer engagement solutions for the utility industry. Rod graduated from UT Austin with degrees in Business Honors, Philosophy and MIS in 1995, then went on to earn an MBA from Stanford in 2002. Using behavioral science and big data analytics, Opower creates innovative software that motivates utility customers to save energy and better manage demand. Since 2007, Opower has become an industry trendsetter, working with 93 utilities and serving 32.1 million households worldwide. To date, the company has helped consumers save more than 4 terawatt hours of electricity – equivalent to $460 million dollars or €338 million euros.

You seem to have vast responsibility within Opower. What are the main functions of your role and what are your main goals in the position at this time?

At the highest level, I run the marketing, client services, and operations sides of the company. I am growing Opower’s top line through marketing, enhancing relationships with the client base, and delivering on an increasingly streamlined quality implementation of our products around the world. Opower’s future growth is going to come from new customer acquisition, existing customer expansion, new product introduction, and international market growth. Everything I do is in support of that: from creating awareness around our new products, to ensuring that the client base is interested in expanding relationships, and making certain our clients are satisfied with the execution of rollouts on their behalf.

What gets you excited about the work you are doing?

It’s really exciting being a part of a double bottom line business. In addition to serving our utility client’s needs, every dollar of revenue has a benefit to the planet. With our double bottom line and high growth, we have a huge opportunity to make a difference in the world while also providing great growth opportunities to our employees.

Before coming to Opower, I was working in software and doing volunteer work on the side. I never had an opportunity to do something for profit that also had a social benefit. This job gave me the opportunity to combine both of those worlds (watch a short video about this).

When I joined, we were less than 100 employees and had 23 clients. Today, we have more than 500 employees and 93 clients worldwide. We had $89 million in gap revenue in 2014 and had an initial public offering (IPO) in April.

You work with both domestic and international utility partners. What are the unique challenges of working with your partners in foreign countries and how do you determine the best messaging for the consumers in those cultures?

With our utility partners, we spend a lot of time localizing our products and innovating in those markets. The core elements of behavioral marketing are pretty consistent across all parts of the world though. What compels someone in Europe to turn off the lights is the same thing that compels them to do it in the U.S. It’s just a matter of localizing the product so we give them clear actions they can take that are relevant to their situation.

We have rapidly expanded the portion of our revenue that is international. One of the main differences in other countries is there isn’t as much regulation of the utility industry. In the U.S., there are many regions that are highly regulated. In other countries, there are more competitive markets for energy. Our U.S. utility partners use us to reach energy efficiency goals, whereas international partners are interested in the competitive advantage we bring to them.

You have degrees in business, philosophy and MIS. Your role seems to have an element of all of these areas. How did your education at UT prepare you for your career?

The thing they have in common is logical problem solving. As I have become more senior, a lot of the problems I have seen require me to go back to those problem-solving skills I learned in school.

In philosophy I learned that the best messages are the simplest ones. It is actually really difficult to come up with simple messages that resonate with people on an emotional level. The building blocks I gained in my MIS classes and as a TA for a software development class have helped me work with teams doing software implementations around the world. I use the building blocks from BHP in all aspects of my job. I would be hard-pressed to find a better business education than I received from BHP.

How did your experiences in BHP compare to going through the Stanford MBA program and did the program prepare you well?

The program prepared me very well. Stanford’s curriculum is tailored to the individual. Because of the base of knowledge I had built in BHP, I was able to focus my learning on elective projects. I wrote entrepreneurial cases, did entrepreneurial coursework and led the marketing club. Those of my classmates who had degrees in business had more freedom to pursue their own interests earlier. I think my BHP education put me in good standing within my cohort.

Your career has had many twists and turns. You had roles with the Peace Corps, Simmons & Co., Bain, LexisNexis and Vovici. Did you find that one thing led to another or were you deliberate in your transitions?

The only thing I was deliberate about was working hard and helping out whatever team I was on, as well as networking to build relationships. I didn’t plan out my career. I sought out the best opportunities and did the best I could in those positions. The variety in my career has given me valuable perspective and kept my life interesting. While recruiters were sometimes involved, pretty much every job I have had has happened because of a relationship in my network. I learned a great deal in each position, but I learned a tremendous amount as an investment banker at Simmons and a consultant at Bain. Those positions were foundational for me and really impacted how I approach my work daily.

What advice do you have for current BHP students?

I would encourage people to be more linear than I have been. It has worked out for me to bounce around to different opportunities, but there is a lot to be said for building functional expertise in one area. If you can find that area earlier on, it will be easier for you.

What is next for you?

Opower just went public and we have a huge market ahead of us. I will be working on growing the company. I had never been through an IPO and it was thrilling to be an integral part of it. I built much of the company from the early days, and had an opportunity to be deeply involved in scaling a really cool company. It was rewarding to go from that to helping in the IPO roadshow to share the company’s story and growth opportunitywith investors. It was a milestone in my professional life.

Note: To learn more about opportunities at Opower, visit the current postings page on their website.