Career-savvy college graduates recognize that one must embrace both challenges and opportunities to achieve professional fulfillment. One such young alumnus was Daniel Malechuk ‘03, who graduated with a business management major and a Spanish minor and has spent the past eleven years clambering up the corporate ladder. Promoted from district manager to director of corporate purchasing for ALDI, Inc., Malechuk has served as vice president of international sales for Keysource Foods since January 2011.
In his current role, Malechuk is responsible for developing partnerships, strategizing, product development, and negotiating contracts with many of the world’s largest companies in the food service, retail, manufacturing, distributor, and hospitality industries.
Malechuk also focuses on conserving the earth’s limited resources.
“I play an active role in fostering sustainability concerns on a global scale in the industry, at times helping facilitate and bridge the gap between both the supply and the demand side of the conversation,” said Malechuk.
But his career hasn’t always been defined by sales projections and strategic analysis; in fact, Malechuk’s first post-collegiate job as a manager for ALDI forced him to get his hands dirty, thereby affording him insight into what it takes to make a company run smoothly from the ground up.
“There I was, a Park Scholar, waking up at four in the morning, stocking shelves, cleaning bathrooms, taking trash to the dumpster, working in a freezer that was ten degrees below zero,” recalls Malechuk. “It might have been easy to think to myself, as many others did, that I didn’t go to school for this and not persevere. Fortunately, I was able to see the value in the methodology of the training program that allowed me to eventually effectively lead and manage people that would do these things every day, indefinitely.”
For Malechuk, international experiences as an undergraduate were his first real eye-openers to global economies, which he encounters daily in his present job. During the summers of 2000 and 2001, he and fellow Park Scholars participated in educational trips to Italy, Morocco, and Spain with former Park Faculty Scholars Gerald Elkan and John Riddle.
“The opportunity as a Park on campus, to be surrounded by and be friends with the best and the brightest, helps facilitate and nurture an environment of success, determination, and support that I have tried to emulate in the business world,” said Malechuk.
Though Malechuk is now among the top businesspeople in the food service industry, he entered NC State with an altogether different career goal. Set on becoming a commercial airline pilot, he initially declared a major in aerospace engineering and obtained his pilot’s license.
“Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 happened during my junior year, and sent the airline industry reeling,” said Malechuk. “Thousands of pilots were furloughed, and the prospect of being able to pursue a career as a professional pilot after graduation looked bleak.”
Malechuk attributes his decision to shift his studies and career intentions to advising he received from Art Padilla, former head of NC State’s Department of Management, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship who played an integral role in the establishment of the Park Scholarships program. Padilla repeatedly suggested for Malechuk to consider pursuing a business degree. During the summer preceding his sophomore year, Malechuk served as a research assistant for Padilla, and credits his daily influence during this time with cementing the merits of a business degree.
Reflecting on his career thus far, Malechuk describes watching and hearing of former employees’ accomplishments as one of its most rewarding aspects.
“I recently received a call out of blue from an employee who had worked for me almost ten years ago,” said Malechuk. “They called simply to express how much they enjoyed working under my direction and how much I had impacted their life.”
As to his own future, Malechuk – who remains involved with the Park Scholarships program by serving on its scholar Selection Committee – is contemplating the possibility of running a company as its president or CEO, or even teaching at a university someday.
“I would advise students who aspire to pursue a degree in business management to have the confidence that it is a degree that can truly open many unique doors and allow you to follow your dreams and passions,” said Malechuk. “If you someday want to open your own ballet studio, found a school for orphans in a third world country, sail around the world, start a farm – all would benefit greatly from having a business degree.”
Story by Lauren Vanderveen