Alumni in 10

Rob Hanel, '06

Rob Hanel, '06

Title/Employer 
TentCraft Inc.

Degree Earned/Emphasis Area 
Liberal Studies


1. What has your journey been since graduation?  
I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I started working in an industry I was passionate about, and at a company I loved and aligned with from a core value standpoint. The company is called Backcountry, and they are a global leader in ecommerce specialty outdoor. The only job I was qualified for on paper paid just over minimum wage, but I went to work proving my worth. I worked in the Distribution Center as a floor employee before I was promoted to a Supervisor, then a Manager. After two and half years, I was promoted into the Human Resources Department, which started my journey into a career that has defined me as a person and professional over a decade later. Since Backcountry, I have worked in Human Resources at two other ecommerce company's: The Clymb in Portland, Oregon, and Tilly's in Irvine, California. I am now the Head of Human Resources for TentCraft Inc., which is a manufacturing company back here in my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan.

2. How has Grand Valley had a role in your journey?  
I am grateful and certainly proud of my Liberal Studies degree from GVSU. It has taught me to think more critically and to challenge the status quo, to be a problem solver, and to lead with empathy and humility. These are skills and traits that are required of any great HR leader, and they have helped me stay on a desirable growth trajectory both personally and professionally.

3. What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?  
I worked two jobs during the summers and part time during the school year to get through college, so my favorite memory was walking across the commencement stage. I have never worked so hard and overcame more challenges the way I did as a college student.

4. What three words describe your experience at Grand Valley?  
Challenging, fun, and rewarding.

5. How, and why, have you stayed involved with Grand Valley since graduation?  
Honestly, I just recently was a guest speaker at the Traverse City Alumni and Graduation Celebration. After connecting with so many amazing grads, I have decided to join the local Traverse City Alumni Chapter.

6. Why are you proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime?  
I'm proud to be a Laker for Life because GVSU is recognized for its Liberal/Integrative Studies program and its excellence in education.

7. What do you like to do for fun?  
I am an avid outdoorsman and conservationist. I am equally as passionate about hunting and fishing as much as I am surfing or SUPing, and spend my additional free time camping and mountain biking.

8. What is your favorite quote/motto to live by?  
“Stay stoked.”

9. What motivates you?  
People deserve to work in an environment that is respectful, fun, challenging, and rewarding; it is motivating to me to help organizations develop and sustain such places where people genuinely love getting up every morning and going to work.

10. What book or movie have you recently enjoyed?  
Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta. This is all of Michael Porter's work (which is a ton) pieced together as an integrative whole. I learned more about business strategy in this book than in my entire career thus far.

May 2019 

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Page last modified May 7, 2019