“Less but better,” reads a small piece of white paper taped to Dev Butler’s office wall.
As director of Staff Relations and Development, Butler embodies that idea to help keep Grand Valley's staff functioning smoothly and effectively.
Since arriving on campus four months ago, Butler has managed staff relations, collective bargaining and leadership development for staff members.
Butler said his career has been a non-traditional path. He earned a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from Emory University in Georgia, but soon realized that a career change was in order. “I would have needed a big lab and multimillion dollar grants, and I didn’t want to do that. What I found was that I was really good at working with people and teaching," he said.
After earning a degree, Butler worked in higher education. “I was a professor, but I realized that I liked the teaching but didn’t like the research,” he said. “I liked working with people, so I retreaded myself as an organizational development psychologist.”
Freshly rebranded, Butler then worked in organizational development for Motorola and Spectrum Health. He also became a partner at THINC Consulting Inc., where he helped local businesses improve their organizations.
After spending time in the corporate world, Butler returned to academia. For four years he taught graduate level classes in organizational theory and conflict management at Grand Valley as an adjunct professor.
He also serves as a mentor at the Hauenstein Center’s Cook Leadership Academy. The academy provides leadership training, assessment and practice for its 40 fellows each year.
As a mentor, Butler works with new fellows to develop professional experience and leadership skills, and provides “grounded leadership” coaching. “We help them grow, we connect them to people in the community and help them figure out what they want to do with their lives,” he said.
To Butler, the human element is the most interesting aspect of his job. “We design the systems, we design the processes, but where it really gets interesting is the people and how they interact with each other,” he said. “I think that’s fun.”