Culture is one of the most powerful forces as it’s significant to how we see and understand the world around us, and how we express ourselves. Malal’s family was granted political asylum allowing them to immigrate to the U.S. in the early 1970s. Her parents began their new life as staff for her grandfather’s business. Morning and night shifts were a standard for her parents as they struggled for financial stability. Personal sacrifice and selflessness were evident as Malal and siblings grew up.
Despite the obstacles, her parents’ focus was to give their children a better life and opportunity. Education was key, to the point that the expectation was to go over and beyond in obtaining exceptional grades. Malal’s parents always emphasized that hard work would lead to accomplishments and an education would be the stepping stone to success. Malal took these lessons to heart,earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Decision Science Management Information Systems from George Mason University and a Masters of Arts degree in National Security Studies with a concentration in Homeland Security from American Public University System. With a passion for education, Malal became a member of Golden Key International Honor Society as well as a member of the West Virginia Iota Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu International Honors Society of Social Sciences.
Being an Afghan-American required Malal to balance the cultural norms and standards instilled by her parents with the salad bowl of American cultural influences and classic American individualism, egalitarianism, and independence. Her parents insisted that Malal and her siblings speak Dari at home so that they would not forget their mothers tongue. She grew up just like every other kid, having chores and responsibilities, going on vacations on winter break with family, and spending summer break with her grandparents. Spending time with family allowed her to understand the traditions and customs such as being modest, maintaining honor, and being hospitable. She was taught that family was the most significant component of a person’s life. Supporting each other and appreciating one another’s kindness were essential, creating a strong foundation.
Years later, embracing her family’s culture enabled Malal to deploy to Afghanistan and experience success as a Human Terrain Analyst. She provided operational support to US and Coalition armed forces through primary and secondary source research defining socio-cultural and economic issues within key districts and identifying cultural awareness shortcomings including ethnographic, cultural, and political elements amongst the populace by assessing characteristics within the battlefield. With her background, she was able to provide military commanders with a cultural snapshot of the indigenous population in a combat environment as well as providing analytical support on socio-cultural issues, regional trends, and developments. Traveling “outside the wire”, her language skills permitted Malal to engage with the local populace. She was able to access the women and children, which was a vital segment of the population. Having this opportunity gave Malal considerable advantage because the women influenced their husbands within the village. Establishing relationships of trust with the local populace enabled Malal and her colleagues to help empower them through economic development programs and training from the U.S. Army. Additionally, Malal trained Female Engagement Teams (FETs) on Afghan culture, traditions, language, and the way of life. Moreover, in her free time, she developed a literacy program for Afghan children, to teach reading, writing, creative thinking, and mathematics skills. She received a number of accolades from the Department of Army, Department of Defense, and NATO partners.
Transitioning over to a Reports Analyst for the Atmosphere Program-Afghanistan (AP-A) in Herat, Malal supported the Fusion Center with analytical trend reports. She gathered, analyzed, and disseminated reports on local sentiment with regard to the cultural, social, political, economic, and religious elements from the field. Promoted to a Senior Reports Analyst in less than six months, she supported Regional Command West Italian Forces with analysis of atmospheric data and reports to identify requirements for additional collection and analysis. Her products reached high-level decision makers. She also served as the principal Quality Control expert on atmospheric reports, reviewing several thousand raw data reports for completeness, accuracy, and format prior to distributing.
With the extensive experience gained in theater, Malal returned to the United States to work as a Task Manager supporting all elements of the AP-A program. She managed specific task areas, ensured projects were completed in a timely manner, and served as a point of contact for program related activities. Malal was also responsible for maintaining relationships with the Government Contracting Officer (KO), key Project Leads deployed on the program, and with US-based Shared Services staff.
Malal joined the GLS family as a Business Development Manager in August 2015. She says this work allows her to apply her multicultural background and the knowledge she gained from her field experiences to helping GLS find creative ways to help satisfy customers’ needs with language, cultural, and regional skills of GLS employees. Communicating and working collaboratively within GLS’s diverse multicultural environment creates a strong sense of trust, teamwork, and family. This in return enables us to be fully committed to each other and our customers.