The retired president of Iowa Southern Utilities, an energy company headquartered in Centerville, Iowa, and later of IES Utilities, René Malès ’50 credits Missouri Military Academy with providing both strong academics and lessons in discipline that helped lead him to success. Through his career, he served in several high-level executive positions in the environmental and energy industries. Today, he gives back in service to several community organizations and, in so doing, demonstrates his wealth of knowledge and interests and his generous spirit.
“I left MMA romanced by Major Nunn’s chemistry class with the goal of a chemical engineering career,” Malès said. “I veered into mathematics with a broad interest in science, literature and the arts and filled the need for a practical background in business management.”
Malès describes his successful college career a direct result of the excellent education he received at MMA.
“First, [MMA] provided a superb academic background. So good, in fact, that I didn’t have to crack a book my first two college semesters,” he said. “Second, it provided the discipline to get back into the groove after nearly stumbling my third semester when I discovered I did have to study.”
After college, Malès served two years in the U.S. Army running the quality control office of the biological warfare research and production facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal.
After his military service, he returned to his career working in various management and executive positions at Commonwealth Edison, one of the largest electric utility companies in the country. Sent as a loaned employee to the newly industry-created research consortium, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the assignment turned into a 10-year tour. Malès stayed on as the vice-president of the Environmental and Economic Division, one of the most rewarding career assignments of his life.
“We were at the cutting edge of industry issues and able to make a real difference in the outcome. We managed to work cooperatively with the government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy,” Malès said. “I believe we were able to advance the industry’s willingness to tackle the difficult issues of public policy, and we achieved the technical credibility to gain a standing with the scientific community, the regulatory staffs, the government agencies and legislative staffs.”
From there, Malès began working for IES Utilities, a natural gas distribution company created through the merger of Iowa Southern Utilities, where he was president, and Iowa Electric, both energy companies. Under his leadership, Malès saw the company through a historic three-way merger with Interstate Power Company and WPL Holdings Inc., forming a greater whole that he says is able to thrive in the changing utility landscape.
Malès says MMA helped train him to be the successful businessman and leader that he is.
“The experience of setting goals and working to achieve them was fundamental in the successes I achieved in business,” he said. “This was something that was intrinsic to the life at MMA.”
Since his retirement as president from IES Utilities, Malès has lived in Hillsboro Beach, Florida, where is an active contributor in his community. He chairs the town’s Marine Advisory Committee and serves on the board of the Condominium and Lynn University Conservatory Board. Additionally, Malès works with the New World Symphony of Miami Beach and the Chopin Foundation of the United States, which work to make music more accessible and to assist young, talented musicians develop careers from their musical passion. Malés, with a young Latin professional violinist, helped found the Volta Music Foundation, which promotes classical music opportunities for Latin American youth.
“MMA helped me appreciate the value of giving back to the society which provided so much for me,” Malès said. “I was able to do this via public service, support of charitable endeavors and involvement in public affairs.”
Malès genuinely hopes current MMA cadets make the most of their time at the Academy, appreciating the diversity of skills and opportunities it has to offer. He offers the following advice to cadets to get maximum benefit from their MMA experience:
- It’s a wonderful academic environment with all the personal help and attention a cadet may ever need. Take advantage of it: do well in your studies, take the courses that will benefit you most – not the easy ones – and never let a special opportunity pass.
- Develop your physical skills. Participate in all the sports you can.
- Take your opportunity to make friends with all sorts of people. Learn how to deal with people so that you will be appreciated by all, and conversely, you will appreciate different points of view than your own.
- While difficult to avoid at MMA, learn the skills of disciplining yourself in all walks of life.
- And, finally, learn to love life and find the good side of all things.
MMA is proud to count Malès among its noteworthy alumni.