IES Abroad: Reflecting on your time at IES Abroad Buenos Aires in 2016, how did your study abroad experience and IES Abroad Scholarship contribute to your personal and professional growth, and do you see any direct connections between your international experiences and your current role at Lockheed Martin as a Project Engineer?
Malaysha White (MW): The IES Abroad scholarship was one of the many grants I received as a sophomore at the University of Michigan that together provided a full-ride scholarship and allowed me to get outside my comfort zone and experience my first international trip to Argentina. Living abroad for a semester was one of my most significant personal and professional accomplishments. When I first arrived, I was nervous because I only knew a few words of Spanish, and my host mom only knew a few words of English, so it was tough for me to express myself, and I was often frustrated. At times, I felt homesick and missed my family and friends. However, after about four months of living there, I remember dreaming in the language and didn't want to leave! Argentina will always have a place I can call home in my heart. Immersing myself in the language and culture and living abroad are transferrable life skills that I will forever be grateful for, and employ in my current role at Lockheed and in life beyond. Not only did it teach me how to get over my fears, but it taught me to adapt quickly. In all of my roles at Lockheed, I can adapt to the environment, whether learning new skills in a data center or a government facility. I credit my study abroad experience for this ability.
IES Abroad: Transitioning from a Systems Administrator to a Project Engineer at Lockheed Martin is quite a journey. Can you share some key moments or experiences that inspired this transition, and how did your educational background, including your M.Eng. in Engineering Management, play a role in shaping your career path?
MW: That's a great question. I've always had a technical background, from my roles as a system administrator to a defensive cyber security engineer. I enjoyed having the opportunity to facilitate Incident Response Plans and disaster recovery exercises for my teams. Additionally, being a project manager one day sounded very exciting. I wanted to learn that side of the house and become more well rounded in my career, so I returned to school to get my master’s in Engineering Management. I'm confident that the skills learned in my master's degree program have prepared me to take on more future leadership roles and have set me up for success in my career.
IES Abroad: As a native of Detroit, you've always been proud to represent your city. How do you bring your Detroit spirit into the workplace, and have you found any unexpected connections between your hometown pride and your work in the tech and engineering industry?
MW: Who wouldn't love being from the birthplace of some of the greatest musicians and automobiles made in the world? I love being from Detroit because it shaped me into who I am today. Furthermore, I represent my city anytime I get the opportunity to talk about Detroit—even at work! Being from Detroit means creativity, innovation, and leading the way. Today, my work in the tech and engineering industry is leading the way—using creativity and innovation to do things better and more efficiently.
IES Abroad: In your role as a Project Engineer, you've been involved in recruiting and bringing high-performing talent to Lockheed Martin (LM). What qualities do you look for in potential candidates, and how do you leverage your experience to identify individuals who would be a great fit for the LM family?
MW: I look for people with a growth mindset who want to be a part of a family that performs with excellence, always does the right thing, and respects others. That's what Lockheed Martin's core values entail. I look for people who come to me and ask for feedback on improving their resumes or cover letters. People who are not afraid to ask for help, people willing to put in the work to get there, and open-minded people are great qualities to look for in potential candidates. I remember telling myself that if this person can sit down with me for 30 minutes to get help, it demonstrates that they want to be here.
IES Abroad: Balancing a challenging career at Lockheed Martin and your commitment to mentoring and connecting with others is impressive. Can you tell us more about your passion for mentoring, and how you believe mentorship can impact the next generation of professionals, especially in the field of cybersecurity and engineering?
MW: Mentors played a crucial role in my career, and it's honestly how I ended up at Lockheed! Someone helped me, so I need to help others and bring the elevator back down for aspiring engineers. So far, I have recruited about eight people at Lockheed in the six years I have been here, and it's something I do outside of work because I care about the mission and the company's success, so I try to find the best talent out there!
IES Abroad: Has your experience studying abroad in Buenos Aires inspired a love of travel and life abroad? Where has this love of travel taken you, and how might it influence your future career path?
MW: Absolutely! My experience in Buenos Aires was my first everything! From my first time studying and living abroad to getting my first stamp on my passport, Argentina is what kickstarted it all! Since my semester abroad, I have been to Brazil, Uruguay, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Canada! One day, I hope to live and work abroad and still make an impact in the technology and engineering industry.