As the host university for IMEC, Bradley University has a unique relationship with us and with the Illinois manufacturing community. In order to take a deeper dive into how Bradley and manufacturing go hand-in-hand, we sat down virtually with one of our newest board members, Erin Kastberg, who also happens to the be Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel at Bradley University.
As a Bradley employee, Kastberg handles all legal matters for the university, and on our board, she serves as our Bradley representative. In her opinion, the central role she and our other board members play is to serve as a trusted advisor to the organization. “I think it’s also to be somebody who can offer diversity of thought and bring different perspectives to a conversation,” Kastberg continued.
For this reason, Kastberg believes organizations should want a variety of different professionals on your board. Even though IMEC serves the manufacturing community, our board is not just made up of manufacturing professionals. Through a more diverse group, the board can offer different points of view and can provide insight on some issues that wouldn’t have otherwise been on our radar.
As Kastberg detailed, her role on the board is unique because it helped her see the full breadth of Bradley services for the community, one of them being through IMEC. “[This board position] helps me understand some of the additional activities of the institution,” Kastberg shared. “There are so many varied and valuable things that Bradley’s engaged in. I think we sometimes just think of the traditional classroom, academic-type activities that go on at the university.” Universities have a role throughout their communities, as Bradley has a role throughout Peoria and the state of Illinois. It was at Bradley that IMEC was formed 25 years ago, and through IMEC, they serve small and mid-sized manufacturers across the state.
“When you look at what IMEC’s purpose is, it’s actually tethered really nicely to what the mission of the university is,” Kastberg said as she explained how Bradley and IMEC intertwine. “Bradley and IMEC are aligned in this pursuit of the long-term economic workforce competitiveness of Illinois.” Both IMEC and Bradley also align in their devotion to driving innovation through new products, processes, or services in the community.
“Working together to further those initiatives is a true benefit to both organizations, and the state as a whole.”
Most who have heard of Bradley know that university’s dedication to manufacturing doesn’t end with IMEC. “Through the Caterpillar College of Engineering,” Kastberg explained, “we have a specific major in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology.” The relationship also extends through other majors, such as Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. Through education, Bradley molds the future Illinois manufacturing workforce and through IMEC, they help strengthen the manufacturing industry across the state.
“It’s even broader than that,” Kastberg elaborated. “Manufacturing can benefit from individuals with a lot of other skills, too. Manufacturing needs people with business skills and they need people with communication skills. We can complement each other by putting the different skillsets that students learn at Bradley to work.”
Since Kastberg first joined the IMEC board, she shared that she has felt inspired by the organization. “It’s only until I became a member of the board and participated in the meetings, where I could hear from some of the other board members, [that I was] able to have an appreciation for the influence that IMEC has had on different manufacturers in Illinois. The resources that IMEC offers is incredible.” Kastberg has attended several of our virtual webinars held throughout the year to get a sense of what we offer manufacturers. Often after these events, she has thought Wow, that’s a great resource! She has also heard from IMEC board members who have been our clients and shared with her how we helped their businesses grow and adapt.
If there are any Bradley students considering a career in manufacturing who are reading this article, Kastberg has a final piece of advice for you, and that is to be a lifelong learner. “Manufacturing is constantly evolving so it is important to stay engaged, whether it’s learning about changing technology, new methods and processes, specialized needs, etc., continuous learning and curiosity will serve students well as they pursue a career in manufacturing.”
Learn more about the IMEC Board of Directors.