Tag Archives: networking

Abby Malchow: Crafting a Career in Big Tech

Abby Malchow is a Manager of Small Business Partnerships at Amazon. She develops and manages partnerships that help drive success for early-stage entrepreneurs and small businesses through delivering programs and investments that support their continued growth. Abby appeared on Reinventing Nerds Episode 6 and talked about Women Vets in Tech when she was working at Intel. Abby is a retired U.S. Navy Chief and combat veteran, serving more than 20 years in the military. In the current episode, Abby discusses how to navigate a career in a big tech company.


Q: Tell us about the variety of interesting jobs you have had at Amazon.

She has remained focused on small businesses and entrepreneurs in various roles and in various organizations within Amazon. She was first hired to work on the Global Military Affairs team and figure out where Amazon can help military small business owners if they do want to sell in their store and look at entrepreneurship as a form of employment. She gave them educational opportunities and worked closely with the Military Empowerment team. She moved on to the Finance organization to manage strategic partnerships with a diversity of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Now she works in the broader consumer organization, where she has worked in a couple of different roles.

Q: How do you navigate a career in a big company?

Abby talks about the importance of networking and creating partnerships across the organization. Because Amazon is a fairly flat company, it is important to identify people across different teams to drive a goal forward. She says she is a huge believer of going into the office.

Q: Why is going into the office important?

Abby discusses the importance of being in the office to meet people and build relationships and how simply being there in person facilitates networking. Abby also gives other networking suggestions, such as getting involved in different initiatives and finding common interests and being proactive about meeting people in different roles.

Q: How do you maintain your flexibility to work in a fast-moving, ever-changing organization?

Abby likes the unpredictability and being able to innovate and create in her roles. That is what keeps her there. She describes how she has become much more marketable having worked in different roles. She has gained a variety of skill sets.

Q: Research repeatedly shows that people leave jobs because of their manager. How do you find the good ones to work with? What do you look for?

Abby suggests that people learn more from their terrible managers than from their good managers. She also suggests that direct, honest feedback to one’s manager is important and having a manager who gives you opportunity for growth is critical.

Listen to the episode to hear more about Abby’s tips on knowing the culture, being nimble and flexible, being able to compromise, and challenges that women face in big tech.

Words of Wisdom:

I’m a huge believer of being inside the office.

You always have to “make the ask” to schedule time with people and get to know them.

You can almost always come to a compromise, but you have to be open to feedback.

You want a manager who is a gardener, not a gatekeeper.

Contact Abby Malchow:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abbymalchow/

Brian Dersch: Engineering Good Customer Relationships

Joanie interviews Brian Dersch, the president and CEO of Dersch Design & Engineering.  Their mission is to design power and lighting systems for construction projects with an emphasis on renewable energy, customer service, and employing engineers that you can hold a conversation with. Brian is no exception!

We start out a little bit differently in this episode because Brian is able to articulate how his keen awareness of what was going on around him led to his career and business and success—a great lesson for all nerds!  He also shares insights into how he developed his people skills, manages virtual teams,


Q: How did you get into your field of business?

“I noticed there weren’t a lot of people going into large-scale power engineering.  I thought, ‘There’s a gap here and ten years from now, someone could end up inheriting it.’”

Q: How did you come to start up your own company?

“I got married and my wife had a dream of becoming a travelling nurse.  She said, ‘You can either stay in San Diego and work or come with me.’  So, I quit my job…”

Q: How did you come to create a company where engineers can have conversations with customers?

“I am an engineer first, and a business person second.  Positioning the business for success, that was learned from trial and error.”

Q: How did you develop your people skills?

“I thought I was shy in high school.  I joined the speech team and theater and I broke out of my shell.”

“One of the skills I developed was public speaking skills.  I needed more architects.  I put together an educational presentation for architects to connect with them.”

Q: How do you connect with people?

“In networking events, I’m often the youngest person there.  It can be very intimidating to show up in a room where everyone is in suits and have grey hair…  All it takes is finding out what someone’s interests are.”

Words of Wisdom:

“In the small business atmosphere, there are no limits.”

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.” –Arnold Palmer

“Tell them the time, not how the clock was made.”

“You can’t beat face-to-face interaction.”

Contact Brian:

Email: brian@derschdesign.com

Website: derschdesign.com

Phone: 858-768-0867