We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.
The Secret Life of RV reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind.)
Secret Life: Teanna Hutchison
Business Operations Coordinator/Experienced First Mate Deckhand
Teanna grew up in a small seaside town in Alaska and moved to Charlotte last summer to join the Red Ventures team. As Business Operations Coordinator, she manages partner relationships and resolves issues as they arise on the sales floor.
She also happens to be a First Mate Deckhand and whale-spotter extraordinaire. (Plus, after so much experience working in tourism, she’s a go-to source for tips on visiting Alaska.)
Q: Ahoy Teanna! Thanks for being here.
A: I feel honored. Thank you for having me.
Q: First things first, mate: How does one become a “deckhand?”
A: When I was fifteen, I got a call from a family friend who happened to work for a boat company. Their deckhand got seasick (yes, it’s a very real thing) and they needed someone to step in. Even though I had no experience and wasn’t even technically old enough to work, I said “yes.” The captain ended up asking me to stay on for the whole summer, and I worked on the water for five years after that! It was a glacier and wildlife tour boat, so every day we would go to the Columbia Glacier and stop to see whales, sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises – all kinds of wildlife. Before long, I earned the nickname Teanna “Eagle Eye” Hutchison because I had a knack for spotting whales.
Q: Sounds like a whale of a time! What exactly does a deckhand do?
A: A senior deckhand is essentially the liaison between the captain and the rest of the crew. If the captain needed to communicate something, he’d tell me so I could relay the message. And in terms of emergency protocol, I was first in command after the captain. Since the captain is usually busy driving the boat, I was on-call in case of emergency. No matter what situation we were in, I’d have to be ready to step up and lead.
Also, if something ever happened to the captain, I’d need to know how to get the boat back to shore safely. So, I had quite a few opportunities to drive the boat! Typically, I’d get to take over for an hour or so while the captain checked on things in the engine room. I learned a lot that way. I also learned how to park at a dock, so I always tell people that I learned to parallel park an 85-foot boat before I learned to parallel park a car.
Q: Did you ever actually have to deal with an emergency situation?!
A: Yes, once when we were boarding, I had to evacuate everyone off our boat when a neighboring boat literally blew up. We were next to the fuel dock, and a small cruising boat was getting gas. When they closed the hatch on the engine room, oxygen got in too. There was a big pop and the whole boat burst into flames. We evacuated everyone on our boat as a precaution. I was on the phone with my mom at the time, and she said she could hear the explosion from seven miles away in the mountains!
Q: That’s wild! Glad to hear you abandoned ship… and not hope. Were you prepared for such an intense situation?
A: Well, I completed a Marine Tech Course in high school to get extra certification to work on the boats – and that prepared me for just about anything. The class was all about boat safety, transportation, nautical skills, and survival skills.
We all had to put on wetsuits and jump into the middle of the ocean with nothing but a Folgers Coffee can full of survival gear duct-taped to our chests. Then, we had to swim to shore and each build our own shelter, find water and food, make a fire, and survive the night. Oh, and all this happened in the winter, so it was freezing cold and raining nonstop. There was a cabin in case of hypothermia, though it had no fireplace or heat; it only offered an escape from the rain. It was made very clear that we would not pass the class with an A if we gave up and went inside.
I survived until 4am, when I couldn’t feel my feet anymore and had to wade through five-foot-deep water to get to the cabin. Despite everything, I passed the class with an A and officially got certified for marine transportation in Alaska!
Q: Again… CRAZY! How’d you end up at Red Ventures?
A: When I graduated from college, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity in Alaska for what I wanted to do with my career – unless I moved to the city. As someone from a small town on the ocean, that just wasn’t an option for me. So, I decided to look for opportunities outside of Alaska. I lived in North Carolina for three years when I was a kid, and my sister lives in the Charlotte area now, so Red Ventures seemed like a natural fit.
Q: Solid choice! Now that you’re working at RV, do you ever use the lessons you learned at sea?
A: Yes, all the time! Working as a deckhand taught me how to build relationships quickly. Every day, a hundred new people would show up, and I’d be on a boat with them for the next ten hours. It taught me to connect with people. Usually by the end of each trip, I’d made fast friends with complete strangers.
I also learned to think fast on my feet, which has been an invaluable skill here. When I was driving the boat, I had to be able to adjust quickly to changing winds and currents. Red Ventures grows fast and changes even faster, so you have to be adaptable.
Q: Nice. Any other cool aspects of your job?
A: It was amazing to be a woman in a traditionally male-dominated career, yet still have the same opportunities and tasks as the guys. I was trusted to do a lot – even dangerous things that usually would be reserved for men. Though the industry has a long way to go in terms of gender equality, it’s great to know we’re making strides towards it.
Q: You’re a hero in our book. Would you ever consider working on a boat again?
A: Realistically, I probably won’t return to Alaska be a deckhand again. It’s really best suited for high schoolers and college students who want to become a captain someday. I want my own boat, for sure, and I want to be able to drive it – so I may go back to get my captain’s license. But when I do, it will be for fun, not for work.
Q: Quick – what’s that?! On the Starboard bow?!?
A: LOOK, A WHALE!
Q: Thanks so much, “Eagle Eye.” Sea you later!
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