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BAE Systems Executive Named to "Women to Watch" List

When something starts to get easy, she does something different

Vice President and General Manager Leslie Jelalian believes that when something starts to come too easily, it's time for change.

Photo courtesy of Don Himsel, The Telegraph

Leslie knows a lot about change. She started her career as an entry-level engineer at BAE Systems right out of college, and three decades later, she is vice president and general manager of the fast-paced Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Solutions business area, leading 1,586 employees. Leslie has worn many hats during her time at BAE Systems and recently garnered public accolades for her successes. She has been named among the “Next 20” up-and-coming business leaders by The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H. and has made Mass High Tech’s 10th Annual 2013 “Women to Watch” List.

The road to success came from hard work, dedication, and being open to new experiences. Leslie started as an engineer – one of the few women in the field. “When I went to school for engineering, I’d say 20 percent were women,” says the University of Massachusetts, Amherst graduate. However, things have been changing. More and more women are choosing this field, embracing what Leslie’s dad taught her early on: engineering teaches you how to solve problems. “He didn’t use the term ‘transferable skills,’ but that’s what they are, and you can use those anywhere,” Leslie says.

After many years as an engineer in various business areas at BAE Systems, Leslie was promoted through the ranks – experiencing lots of change in the form of various roles – before becoming vice president of engineering in 2009. Last September, she entered her current role, leading the ISR  business within the Electronic Systems sector.

Leslie often revisits her dad’s advice and uses it to continue learning and experiencing new adventures. And when it starts to get easy – she does something different.

“There is huge opportunity in change.”