Alumni from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) can be found in leadership positions in a variety of industries around the globe. Errika Mallett’s (IE 1996) career is a testament to that diversity, having applied her industrial engineering degree to multiple positions in a variety of fields such as account executive, marketing director, and managing partner. She currently serves as an HR manager for Southwire, a leading electrical wire, cable, and cord manufacturer in Carrollton, Georgia.
“In my opinion, IE’s can go anywhere and do anything. I think my very diverse career is a reflection of that,” said Mallett. “My degree in ISyE prepared me for all of these opportunities by teaching me to look at a situation, analyze it, and be pragmatic in my approach.”
In her current role, Mallett identifies talent for Southwire and coaches new hires on how to develop their leadership skills and career paths. Additionally, she assists Georgia Tech students with developing their resumes and preparing for job interviews.
Mallett has approached her role as an alumna with as much energy as her career, maintaining an active presence on the Georgia Tech campus by supporting the Institute and its students. Mallett recently joined the ISyE Advisory Board for the 2012-2016 term, where she will serve as a sounding body for the School chair in an advisory capacity as well as assist with the School’s development goals. She is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Trustees where she supports the Student Alumni Association committee, the current president for the Black Alumni Organization, a Mentor in the Mentor Jacket program, a member of the Student Center Governance Board, and a new member of the board for the Women’s Alumni Network. Last year she served as vice chair of Georgia Tech’s 50th Anniversary Steering Committee for the Matriculation of Black Students year-long celebration.
“Being active at Tech, encouraging and empowering students, is very fulfilling and enriching for me,” said Mallett.
Additionally, Mallett is a former White House Fellow, a former President of the ANAK Society, the oldest known secret society at Georgia Tech, an alumna of the Xi Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and a former chapter, regional, and national officer of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). She has had the honor of receiving such recognitions as a “Legend” by the African American Student Union (AASU), a Mentor of the Year by OMED: Educational Services, and a Mentor of the Year and an Outstanding Young Alumna by the Alumni Association.
Continue reading the interview that follows as Mallett shares more about her experiences and valuable career advice.
ISyE: Tell us about your professional background.
EM: After earning my bachelor’s degree from ISyE, I started my career in Sales and Marketing as an account executive for IBM. As a result of my success, I was selected for IBM’s Top Gun program at Harvard. Later, I matriculated to BMC Software, eventually becoming a Marketing Program Director. At BMC, I received the Director’s Excellence Award, created a customer reference program, and worked with senior BMC executives. In 2005, I leveraged my marketing background to create a marketing logistics company, Executive Business Solutions Inc., for small businesses and non-profit organizations. In 2010, I began working as an HR Manager for Southwire.
ISyE: What are some of the choices you made as a student, and later as a recent college graduate, that you feel were instrumental in the launch of your career?
EM: My decision to be involved and to become a leader in a large and impactful organization like NSBE was instrumental in the launch of my career. I gained valuable leadership and professional development experience through this organization. Through my involvement, I was exposed to several corporate leaders, and as a result, the corporate representative for IBM became a champion for me and was extremely instrumental in helping me to secure my first job within IBM.
My decision to actively support departments like OMED taught me that no matter where you go, you have to find ways to “pay it forward.” As a volunteer, and then an employee, I witnessed the efforts of alumni who would come back and work with OMED as a way to “pay it forward” and help the organization make an impact at Tech. Some may not see this type of mindset as valuable, particularly when you’re launching your career. But in today’s climate, companies are looking for well-rounded individuals. Employees that are actively engaged in their community, are mentors and/or are committed to extracurricular causes and/or opportunities, actually bring value back to their respective organizations. When I started at IBM, I immediately supported IBM’s efforts with Junior Achievement by becoming a counselor, their efforts with the Arts by becoming a representative for them at the Museum of Houston, and volunteered with the recruiting team to encourage other college students and share my positive experience.
In addition to being involved in my community, I also try to stay involved with Georgia Tech either through my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization, ANAK, or the Alumni Association. I want to support the students that are currently at Tech and “pay it forward” like so many others did for me when I was a student.
ISyE: What advice do you have for recent IE graduates entering the job market?
EM: Keep your options open! IE is one of the best engineering disciplines for allowing a diverse career. Because here’s the thing…even if you start off in one department within an organization, if you are successful and prove yourself to be valuable to the organization, you won’t remain in that department, unless that is your desire. As an IE, employers can (and you want them to) use your talents and abilities throughout the organization. The more knowledgeable and versed you become in varying aspects of the organization, the greater asset you are to the organization.
ISyE: How about for ISyE alumni who are currently seeking a new job?
EM: I would give the same advice to ISyE alumni as I would to recent graduates—keep your options open. At Southwire, candidates with ISyE backgrounds provide the basis for having a variety of career options within the company. Everything from traditional IE skill sets to experience in manufacturing systems, plant management, materials management, and technical sales lead to career paths in general management up to our most senior executive levels. Executive Vice President and President of Southwire's Energy Division, Charlie Murrah, IE 1984, and one of our Senior Vice Presidents, Robbie Blackmon, IE 1988, are both ISyE alumni.
ISyE: What are some of the skills and qualities you look for in candidates when identifying talent for Southwire?
EM: It’s not just about intelligence. As a graduate of Georgia Tech, we know that candidates have the capacity. More relevant attributes are applied intelligence, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, and effective communication skills. Southwire diligently assesses a candidate’s desire to work in a plant/manufacturing environment and proof of their work ethic.
ISyE: Did you have a mentor during your time as a student in ISyE?
EM: Dr. Augustine Esogbue was like a father figure to me during my time in ISyE and continues to be that today. Beyond ISyE, other mentors over the course of my time at Georgia Tech are great individuals like Dr. Gary May, Dr. Donna Llewellyn, and fellow Georgia Tech alumni S. Gordon Moore Jr. and Gavin Sams.
ISyE: How do you successfully manage your family life, career, and service to the community?
EM: By God’s grace. I’ve been extremely blessed. That does not mean there haven’t been challenges. Both my challenges and my opportunities have been blessings. In addition to His grace, my primary driver has always been passion. I have done the things that I am passionate about doing. And thus that has been my motivation to, as best as possible, ensure balance between my family, career, and service to the community.
Industrial and Systems Engineering