Julie Malesky - Nexteer Automotive - 2020 MFG Talent Champion

Julie Malesky has brought her own brand of “relentless positive action” to Nexteer Automotive, a multi-billion-dollar global leader in advanced steering and driveline technologies. As the Organizational Effectiveness Manager, Malesky leads the talent development/acquisition and retention efforts for the company in which she organizes everything from skills training to partnerships with local schools.

“What makes Julie’s approach to enhancing manufacturing talent unique is her commitment to ‘relentless positive action.’” says Andy Stewart, Nexteer General Manager, US REPS. “Her attitude and approach to creating a robust pipeline of talent, not just for Nexteer, but for the manufacturing community is a springboard to get others involved.”

During her long career with the automotive supplier, Malesky has established herself as someone who pursues her job and her life with passion and who has a knack for inspiring others. One only needs to spend a few minutes with Malesky to recognize her passion for manufacturing.

“I get to show the world what a great place manufacturing is for a career,” says Malesky.

Malesky is an honored, albeit reluctant, MFG Talent Champion. She quickly and relentlessly credits the team that is around her for the various successes they have experienced over the years.

“I’m so honored that anyone would consider recognizing me, but really this is an award for our community partners and for the whole Nexteer family,” says Malesky. “I just feel very honored and blessed. I found out after the fact and I just couldn’t believe it. I work with such a great group of people, it’s nice to know that people think of me that way.”

A significant portion of Malesky’s time is dedicated to engaging local community stakeholders. In 2018, she was instrumental in working with school district and community leaders in Saginaw County to pass a tax millage that would support career and technical education (CTE) for the next 10 years. She was able to utilize her own relentless positivity to inspire teachers, parents, students and local residents to approve the millage.

Like all manufacturing leaders, Malesky and Nexteer understand the importance of engaging students, starting as early as middle school, about careers that are available in manufacturing. Helping to pass the millage was a huge step for schools and local industries but engaging with students and supporting that pipeline of talent is a consistent and vital aspect of her mission.

“We need to partner with the schools as much as we can,” says Malesky.

Malesky is well known in the region and among professional associations such as the Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association and the Great Lakes Bay Region Michigan Works! agency due to her work in talent development.

Before the pandemic hit in March, Malesky had organized a number of opportunities for students, parents and residents to visit Nexteer manufacturing facilities. She says her groups always have the same reaction about how bright and clean the plants are.

“If you haven’t been inside of a plant for 15 years, you probably have a different idea about how things look now,” says Malesky. “It’s really important to help educators understand and communicate that to students.”

It’s also highly valuable to demonstrate to students that, for a company like Nexteer, which employs around 13,000 workers globally, while there are many important positions on the factory floor, they have hundreds of different needs that expand into different departments like IT, Engineering and Finance as well as the plant floor.

“If you think about it, we’re like a small city,” says Malesky. “We have to think about how to get everything around. We have our medical department, our own supply chain…there are so many other positions available, (the students) don’t even think about the IT jobs until they come here.”

During student tours, Malesky makes a point of visiting multiple departments to give students a broad sense of the opportunities available.

“I love to bring students in and open their eyes,” she says. “We have also done a lot of training to increase the skill sets of our existing employees to help them reach their career goals and meet Nexteer’s technical skills needs.”

Malesky is passionate about many things but, most of all, she is passionate about the collaboration of her team which really drives the creative thinking.

“I love seeing things come together as a group. We come up with some really interesting ideas together and see them take off,” she says. “That’s why this is really a team award.”