Engineering transformational change and capacity building
Malysa Cheng Hurley ’09 studied mechanical engineering at Union before earning a master’s of mechanical engineering from Union Graduate College and an MBA from NYU Stern. Today she is an engagement manager in implementation at McKinsey & Company. Malysa works mostly with organizations on transformational change and capability building programs – coaching clients through the design and implementation of organizational transformations.
What are/were the most challenging aspects of your career? What are/were the most rewarding?
I started my career with GE in their Commercial Leadership Program. I was working within the power generation industry, which was (...is) predominantly male, so that had its challenges. I remember being asked to fly down to Argentina to meet a customer about a wind deal, and was told the customer wasn’t happy when they saw a very young girl enter their offices. But I think I won them over when I was able to explain technical details about the equipment and technology. As a consultant, I’ve been able to work across many different industries and functions. I am always learning new things, meeting new people and being challenged in different ways. I’ve also become a very efficient traveler. I’ve been able to hone in on the timing to get to the airport to allow just enough time for security, grabbing a coffee and water, and getting to the gate just as we are boarding.
How has your engineering degree been useful in another field?
The problem-solving techniques I learned across my engineering courses at Union helped build the foundation for effective and creative problem solving.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
The engineering community. We spent so many hours together in classes, on projects, doing homework, terms abroad. I may be biased but we were a really fun group. We had a lot of laughs in the lab and sometimes in class (I think that was at the peak of funny YouTube videos). I remember working at the table in the lab and someone took a bee out of the freezer and tied a string around it. When it thawed, it flew around on the leash. This fun community includes the professors as well. I helped coach Professor Keat’s daughter’s softball team while I was a student. After college, a few of us stayed close with Professor Davis. We still get together regularly for dinners with him and his wife– they’ve become like family. Oh, and also meeting my husband (Brian Hurley ’09) was quite formative.
What's the best piece of advice (professional or personal) you ever received?
Be explicit with what you want and what you need. It took me until I had my first son to be bold enough to tell leaders what I needed to make work work. I wish I had started being so transparent much earlier in my career.