The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Alumna Named Woman to Watch by Mass High Tech

Alumna Leslie Jelalian, VP of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at BAE Systems, has been named by Mass High Tech as one of its 20 “Women to Watch” in 2013. Jelalian is a 1988 graduate of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Now in its 10th year, the annual Women to Watch program recognizes women in tech and life sciences who are judged to be leaders in their field and shaping the future of their industries for years to come. According to Mass High Tech, “Leslie Jelalian has become part of BAE’s DNA. The vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at one of the largest defense companies in the nation has been with the company since college. In fact, it is where she landed her first job.” Read Mass High Tech article on Jelalian: jelalian.html

This year’s 20 honorees were selected from more than 125 nominations.

The Mass High Tech article added that, “Looking back on the more than two decades she has been with the company, Jelalian says she was offered tremendous leadership opportunities very early in her career and attributes her success to the senior leaders who have served as her mentors, helped her to grow, and taught her how to solve problems instead of solving them for her. She spends her days meeting with customers, briefing her sector president, and meeting with staff, and says she never gets bored.”

Asked why she chose to become an engineer, Jelalian replied: “I think choosing a career is one of the most difficult decisions we make in our lifetime. There are an incredible number of choices and you don’t really know what they entail day to day.”

While she was initially undecided on what to study in college, Jelalian chose engineering because of her father, an engineer at Raytheon for more than 40 years. “His logic was ‘Try engineering. It will teach you how to think and solve problems. If you like it, stay in it. If you don’t, then the courses you take in your first year can cover all your electives if you transfer into business management.’ His logic made sense to me... and I never got bored and never wanted to transfer out of it.”

Mass High Tech honored Jelalian and the other 2013 Women to Watch at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston on May 9. (May 2013)