May 10, 2016
While engineering and business programs are quite different and appropriately specialized, the two disciplines are very often intertwined in the professional world. Walter Bilynsky ’92 leverages the skills he earned in his SU chemical engineering program to build a successful career where engineering and business intersect in the chemical industry.
Bilynsky is a corporate sales manager for Kemira, a Finland-based global specialty chemicals company that serves a variety of water-intensive industries. It is the largest global supplier to the pulp and paper industry and Bilynsky is the key account manager for the company’s North American pulp and paper business. Kemira’s specialty chemicals are used in various applications in pulp and paper manufacturing for both process and functional purposes.
As with most alumni, Bilynsky’s personal life was also shaped by his time at SU. He met his wife, Karen Bilynsky ’92, ’96 here, and built lifelong friendships that last to this day. He returns to campus often as a football season ticket holder.
What was it about your Syracuse education that prepared you for life after college?
“The education I got at SU provided me with the foundation I needed. I wouldn’t have been successful in my business roles if I didn’t have a foundation in the technical side. In my job, I meet with corporate executives, many of whom were engineering or science majors before becoming executives in their field. They have a technical background, so I have to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk when I’m working with them. I rely on my chemical engineering background even though my day-to-day activities are now more centered on the business aspects for Kemira.”
One would think that an engineering degree leads directly into an engineering career. How did you end up on the business side of the things?
“The opportunity to earn a degree in engineering and go directly into a business role does exist out there. You have to be open to putting yourself in that setting. If you know you want to be in a lab and do research, great. But, know that you can get on the manufacturing side as well. Or, you can take the supplier route that can lead you to technical sales. As you go further in your career, you’ll always have the skills of an engineer, but you will grow to understand and master the business side of things as well.”
What skills should engineers be developing at Syracuse beyond what they learn in their curriculum?
“If I knew then what I know now, I absolutely would have done more. I recommend that engineering students take some basic business courses while they have the opportunity. Another area is honing presentation and communication skills. It’s important to be confident enough to stand up in front of people and not just read bullets off a chart. Being able to craft a story and to convey the message you want others to hear, no matter your profession, is a critical skill.”
“Syracuse University is a great place to be and a person’s college years are such a unique time to grow and develop. Students should take advantage of as much as they can during their years here.”