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Commencement 2016

Commencement Speaker

Gretchen W. McClain

Gretchen McClain

Gretchen W. McClain is an accomplished business leader who thrives on energizing organizations and building businesses by enhancing innovation and developing exceptional leadership talent. With more than 25 years of global experience in both Fortune 500 corporations and government service, including serving as founding CEO of an S&P 500 global water technology company, Xylem Inc., and NASA’s Chief Director of the International Space Station, McClain brings extensive business, developmental, strategic and technical expertise. Her distinctive leadership approach focuses on helping companies break down internal barriers to identify new ways to create value and integrate technologies, enabling organizations to unlock growth and gain critical competitive advantage.

McClain serves as a Board of Director for three publicly traded companies: AMETEK, Inc., a $4 billion leading global engineering and manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices; Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corporation, a $5.3 billion leading provider of management consulting, technology and engineering services to Fortune 500 corporations, governments and not-for-profits globally; and Boart Longyear Limited, a leader in innovative drilling services, drilling equipment, and performance tooling for the mining and drilling companies globally. 

Through her consulting practice, GWMcClain Advisory Services, McClain provides leadership coaching and business services to CEOs, Executives and the C-Suite, frequently working with start-up businesses and private equity firms on strategic development, business growth and expansion, including M&A support. She is also a thought leader and speaker on connecting your work to your higher purpose, becoming a standout leader, and the adventurous paths available to engineers and technologists in the 21st Century.

Previously, McClain served in numerous senior executive positions in both the government and industry starting from a systems engineer. As the founding President and CEO of Xylem, an S&P 500 company and global water technology company with revenues of $3.8 billion, she oversaw the successful creation and spin-off of the company from ITT Corporation. At ITT, she served as President of ITT Fluid Motion and Control, a $4.5 billion diversified leading manufacturing company of highly engineered technology and equipment, where she led the organization to double-digit revenue growth. Prior to ITT, McClain held a number of executive positions at Honeywell Aerospace (formerly AlliedSignal), including Vice President and General Manager of the Business, General Aviation, and Helicopters Electronics Systems Division and Chief Technology Officer of Aerospace Engines and Systems. Earlier in her career, McClain spent nine years with NASA, including serving as Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Development, the top management position responsible for NASA’s International Space Station (ISS). In this capacity, she played a pivotal leadership role in the successful development and launch of the ISS program and Shuttle/Mir missions. McClain received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for her service.

McClain is actively involved in advocating for, and shaping the debate within, the technology, water and environmental spheres. She serves as a member of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) Innovation Advisory Council; University of Utah College of Engineering National Advisory Council; EPIC Ventures Advisors; the Environment and Water Technologies International Advisory Panel (EWT IAP) for Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB); and the America’s Water Steering committee at the Columbia Water Center, part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

She graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and received the University’s prestigious Founders Award in 2015. McClain was inducted into the Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame and is the first woman to receive this honor. 

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