Continuing a partnership that began several years ago, Rachel (Bowers) LeBlanc ’02, ’08 (MS), ’13 (MBA) will begin a new position with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) as director of marketing and communications for the next three years.
“Over the past 25 years, INCOSE has developed into a robust community of 10,000-plus from around the world,” LeBlanc says. “There have been a lot of advancements and I believe we need to acknowledge our progress.”
As executive director of Corporate and Professional Education at WPI, LeBlanc manages the group that provides education and training to the working professional audience. She believes her work with industry clients in helping them advance their careers through technical knowledge will translate well into her new role at INCOSE.
“In my various roles at WPI, I have had the opportunity to manage business development, marketing, program development, and operations functions,” she says. “I believe this experience has helped me understand marketing, the importance of good communication, and how all of the functions interact. This will allow me to provide a more holistic perspective and a better understanding of the need to collaborate with the other directors to move INCOSE forward.”
WPI was a lead sponsor and organizer of the INCOSE IS 2015 symposium that convened in Seattle in July. It was the largest international meeting of the systems engineering world, and LeBlanc served as chair of the planning group.
When the opportunity arose to continue her work with the organization, she jumped at the chance to play a more long-term role in attaining the organization’s goals.
“INCOSE recently released a strategic plan consisting of seven objectives. I believe my role is to help the leaders of each of those objectives achieve their goals,” she says. “Progress on these objectives will help to advance the field and provide benefits to the communities we serve.”
LeBlanc has laid out a plan to expound upon the focus of last year’s symposium over the next three years and continue INCOSE’s expressed mission statement to “share, promote, and advance the best of systems engineering from across the globe for the benefit of humanity and the planet.”
“My goals for the next few years are fairly simple,” LeBlanc states. “Enhance the communications within the INCOSE community, communicate the value of systems engineering to the world, assist the organization in reaching its potential, and collaborate with INCOSE leaders to build a stronger, more diverse community of systems believers.”
While pushing the boundaries of what is possible with systems engineering on a global scale is an endeavor with the potential to benefit all, her work with WPI on a specific level is far from done. A 13-year veteran, LeBlanc is quick to point out what sets the university apart from others.
“I have found WPI to be noteworthy because of its long-standing ties with our ecosystem. At every level of the institution, we are working with nonprofits, corporations, and government organizations to add value to the world,” she says. “Corporate and Professional Education is only a small piece of that and we are happy to play a role in strengthening this great tradition. Having spoken with many colleagues at other universities, I am always struck by WPI’s ability to get things done. While we certainly have processes in place to make sure we are investing wisely, we are not risk averse, and we have a tolerance for experimentation that seems unrivaled by our peers.”
As she embarks on this new role, LeBlanc’s hopes for INCOSE as a world leader in systems engineering rival those of her vision for WPI’s future.
“I believe INCOSE will continue to grow and provide thought leadership to a variety of industries, improving their effectiveness and allowing them to achieve more,” she continues, “and for WPI, the future is bright. I have seen this university move from a best-kept secret to a recognized leader in higher education. It is amazing to see the progress. Every day, I am impressed with the work being done by our students, faculty, and staff. And, I know that the momentum we have built will continue to propel WPI down a path of creating more value and impacting more lives.”
– BY RYAN MORIN