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Job description: Malski’s role includes communications, strategic planning, new programs, project and grant management, and railroad outreach. She also develops training and education about components of safety culture.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial labor relations with a minor in law and society, Cornell University
Nominator’s quote: “Throughout her career, [Malski] has been a self-starting problem solver, an inclusive communicator and an active listener. Always promoting teamwork, she has built interactive workshops for the institute that enhance attendees’ peer-to-peer communication skills that are essential in this ever-changing industry.” — Ron Hynes, Association of American Railroads (previously executive director at the Short Line Safety Institute)
How did you get into railroading?
I guess you can say it is in the blood. My father currently serves as president of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority in Scranton, Pa. When I was younger, it was common practice to hear his scanner chirping off in the background as it systematically reported some nearby axle detector counts. Then a few minutes later, I'd hear the horns of SD40s testing the hills as soundboards in the neighborhood. While some might find the sound annoying, it was a harmonious charm to me because I learned young to value what that sound meant for our economy. My father has a great respect for the rail industry and taught me the same understanding, except that I chose to dive headfirst into the operations world after the Ivy League life at Cornell University. The reason I got into the railroad was because of the youthful years that encouraged me as a young adult and that built the bond with my father.
Describe your career path?
Once I graduated from Cornell, I applied and was selected for the BNSF Railway Co. management trainee program. I was assigned to the Montana division and later became a trainmaster in Minot, N.D., in the middle of Bakken oil boom, where growth and double-tracking were one in the same sentence for progress. I transitioned back east for another opportunity with Canadian Pacific as a division trainmaster in New York and Pennsylvania on the former Delaware & Hudson Railway which CP owned. Later, I ventured into the commuter side as a trainmaster with Bombardier Transportation, the operator of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail system between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of so far?
In general, I am proud of my crews on the Delaware & Hudson that taught me how strong I really was and who welcomed me into the “club.” That’s when I knew I was a part of it — I was an accepted railroader.
What inspires you?
Short-line railroads. They are nimble in an ever-changing environment.
What advice would you share with a first-year railroader?
Find a mentor. Find a friend that will give you advice, and not just the things you want to hear, but the constructive criticisms that will make you a better manager/specialist/ conductor, or whatever job you are in. Most importantly, learn your territory, study the maps and ask the crews questions.
What do you enjoying doing when you’re not at work?
I have two giant dogs: a Great Dane mix and a black German shepherd. They keep me fit, and I enjoy running with them. I also do watercolor, charcoal and acrylic paintings of just about everything.
What do you hope to be doing (or learning) five years from now?
I’ll be promoting and supporting the success of the railroad industry in whatever capacity I am needed.
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