Rebekah Kowalski ’97
Professional and Personal Highlights
What has been one of the top highlights of your career?
Establishing the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing in partnership with Rockwell Automation. Through this program we serve both veterans and industry by providing upskilling opportunities to qualified veterans and connecting them with in-demand careers in the manufacturing industry.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life or your career and why?
That is a tough question to answer, but the one constant has been leaning into God for His plan for my life which oftentimes means taking the road less traveled. More conventionally, I would cite my parents who always valued discussions about ideas, emphasized the importance of reading (and understanding what you read), and placed a premium on education. They really did believe that we could do anything and they gave us space to grow and generate our own ideas – even if they were in conflict with their own. I cannot say enough how much my appreciation, respect, and honor for them has grown throughout the years.
What are your favorite hobbies?
It’s more of a hobby ‘suite’ of reading, hiking, and chatting about ideas. I also love spending time with my horse.
What is something that would surprise us about you?
I love bad movies and thus am a huge fan of MST3K and Rifftrax.
Reflecting on UW-Parkside
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
I had originally planned to attend NYU, but wanted to start my first year locally and then move to New York. UW-Parkside had a beautiful campus and gave me credits for my high school foreign language courses; they also seemed genuinely interested in me when they came to visit Waterford High School. The bigger question is why I stayed and that is easy to answer. The relationships I was able to develop with faculty in that first year (Dr. Donald Kummings, Dr. James B. Kinchen are notable for that freshman year) sealed the deal for me. Where else could you develop such significant relationships? We had meaningful discussions in the classroom, in faculty offices, and on tour buses (for Voices of Parkside). This was a rich experience and one that I knew would not be the case at many or even most universities.
What activities were you involved in at UW-Parkside?
I spent a lot of time with Voices of Parkside (freshman year) and Sigma Tau Delta (sophomore-senior year).
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
It increased my appreciation of understanding and respecting a spectrum of viewpoints. This has been invaluable to me in negotiations and team collaborations.
Advice from Rebekah
What advice do you have for current UW-Parkside Students?
Think of your education at UW-Parkside as a buffet and maximize that meal. Learn new things, embrace what is uncomfortable, go deeper into your passions, and remember that there is no better time in your life to explore. Don’t get too hung up on the grades: they are important, but they are not everything. You are here to expand your horizons and learn not only technical skills and proficiency, but also the life skills that will help you navigate a diverse world of different perspectives and opinions that will make whatever you are doing or building better.
Rebekah Kowalski is the Vice President of Manpower Manufacturing Solutions and is responsible for ManpowerGroup North America’s Manufacturing Sector Strategy, developing talent solutions for the rapidly transforming industry. Rebekah’s work focuses on developing solutions that help organizations and leaders deal with the implications of both the shortage of rightly skilled workers, and the evolution of roles and skills.
Leading up to her current role, Rebekah led the Client Workforce Solutions team for ManpowerGroup North America. Rebekah’s work focused on developing solutions that help organizations and leaders deal with the implications of both the shortage of rightly skilled workers and the rapid evolution of roles and skills across multiple sectors. Rebekah led the ManpowerGroup team who worked with MxD (formally the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute) to define the future workforce for digital manufacturing and design and was responsible for leading ManpowerGroup North America’s manufacturing sector strategy. Rebekah also led the Workforce Strategy and Solution Integration team for Right Management, a ManpowerGroup company, where she was the primary architect of ManpowerGroup’s proprietary workforce supply and demand forecasting solution and consulting process. She pioneered the workforce strategy approach for government clients to help align their employment ecosystems with their long-term talent forecasts.
Prior to joining Right Management, Rebekah spent nine years at the helm of Manpower’s U.S. and Global Solutions units. She led the teams responsible for working with ManpowerGroup’s most strategically significant global clients to architect innovative global workforce strategy and delivery models that enabled them to optimize cost and flexibility and prepare for emerging needs. Rebekah is the Vice Chair of GPS Education, is on the board of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation, and is a past board member of the Skylight Music Theater and Midwest Energy Research Council.