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Faculty Feature: Donna Wertalik

Donna Wertalik, the multi-talented marketing professor serving the students of Virginia Tech. Her high spirits and energy have blessed every student organization she has sponsored, her colleagues, and the place she has called home for 21 years. At a young age, Donna cultivated an extremely strong work ethic. In school, she not only answered the math problems her teacher provided, but thoroughly explained the process behind it, even when she didn’t need to. Her teacher told her to “never change,” and from there on out, Donna became interested in why things happened.

Donna intended to pursue Political Science and law school until her sophomore year, when one of her professors inspired her passion for marketing. At the time, her father was unsure of her joining the field, but Donna proved that hard work and networking are the first steps to a well-rounded and fulfilling career. After her college graduation, her job wasn’t exactly what she thought it would be. Working at Nestle, however, aligned her with the “work hard play hard” mindset. She decided to show her passion for going above and beyond. Donna provided Nestle with competitive insights per her own self-directed work, another demonstration of her ability to provide the unexpected.

Moving past her career at Nestle, Donna noticed average household items, like labels on coffee cups, and thought “who is designing these labels?” That sparked interest in a small advertising firm in which she performed an array of different roles. Marketing has given Donna opportunities with tons of companies and products and has allowed her to learn something new every day. She reminds us that without marketers, engineers would have an unsellable product sitting on the shelf. All of her roles and the people she has networked with created a drive in her to “pay it forward.” Another point Wertalik makes is that building relationships is all about how you refer to people (another reason why people love her)! A person isn’t an assistant to her, but one of her colleagues.

After the 9/11 attacks, Donna and her family were presented with an opportunity to move from New York to Blacksburg or Australia. Surprisingly, they chose Blacksburg! This gave her the opportunity to reinvent herself after being a new mother and fall in love with helping people all over again. She feels her biggest achievement is being an advisor to so many student-led groups, and helping advocate for women, strengthening their voice for change.

Moving forward, Donna continues to work with her marketing company, Carpe, and sponsors students all over campus. Donna also has ambitions for the metaverse, and the great opportunities it presents for social media. She is working with several other companies to get ahead of the wave. Donna also serves as a board member of the Weight Club. She is a big cyclist and loves walking when she has time. Of course, Donna loves spending time with her family and her dogs and connecting with her siblings in New York and England. She is an avid reader and passionate about her writing, as well. This past year, Donna not only jumped out of a plane, but also began learning to fly one! Most importantly, Donna seeks to work on things that impact the world around us, and continues to help others. Peace and happiness are ultimately her primary goals for her life and career.

Donna is the definition of a business queen, giving one hundred and ten percent in everything she does. Her work ethic never goes unnoticed, and the commitment she gives to the Virginia Tech students is unmatched. In fact, one of Donna’s goals is to push even more boundaries and quite literally see her students soar until her last breath.

Finally, we had to finish our conversation with Donna by asking about her favorite fall snacks: Butternut squash and of course, Nestle Toll House cookies.

By Izzy McIlvenna and Katie Brintle

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