After graduating from Concordia with a computer engineering degree, François Leblanc, BEng 88, was keen to move around and pursue different opportunities.
Originally hired as a software engineer at Matrox, a Montreal-based computer hardware company, Leblanc spent the first decade of his career working at four companies, including Eicon Technology, Alis Technologies and BleuMont. His roles and responsibilities shifted from software engineering to professional services to project management.
In 1998, Leblanc joined OneSpan’s research and development team and has remained with the company ever since.
“When you’re a young engineer, you’re going to try different things,” Leblanc says. “I’ve stayed at OneSpan because we keep growing. I wouldn’t be able to work effectively in a Bell Canada or Hydro-Québec type of environment — some people are made for that but I’m not.”
Today Leblanc is director of technical sales, where he oversees nine employees in the presales team. His responsibilities include understanding customer needs and matching them with OneSpan’s software capabilities, as well as managing the engineers who demonstrate applications to clients.
“I see it as helping the customer leverage the most out of our products and refining what portion of their needs the product can solve,” Leblanc says. “We try to help customers identify what we can do for them given the product portfolio that we have.”
As a Concordia student, Leblanc would have never imagined his career would eventually turn to sales management. At graduation time, he saw himself developing electronics or gadgets, like a cool watch or robot toy.
Yet five years after leaving Concordia, Leblanc realized he preferred interacting with clients instead of working on products in his own cubicle.
“I was constantly gravitating towards customers and being face-to-face with them — I didn’t know that about myself,” he recalls.
Leblanc credits his time at Concordia for helping him get out of his comfort zone and learn how to work with others. He advises current students interested in pursuing a similar career path to make sure they understand how to work effectively within a team before they graduate.
“Concordia has lots of spaces in engineering where you can get together and work,” he says. “The way the schedule is made up, you are essentially forced to all be in the same place for the whole day. Naturally, you create bonds and relationships very quickly — it works well.”