Harper College

Michael Patrick McGowan


Michael Patrick McGowan photo

2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Honoree
Michael Patrick McGowan

For nearly four decades, Michael Patrick McGowan has been climbing the ladder at Foster Electric Company (USA), which produces speakers, headphones and related audio products. He started as an entry-level sales associate in 1984. Since 2020, he’s served as president of Foster’s North American headquarters in Schaumburg.

McGowan, of Elk Grove Village, earned two associate degrees from Harper College – one in arts, one in science – in 1980, which he says was a stepping-off point to help put him on his career path.

McGowan came to Harper for its value, he says. As a student, he had the flexibility to work part-time in the produce department at the then-Eagle Food Centers, which helped McGowan with tuition. But what he remembers most fondly about Harper today is the relationships he built there. Harper was close to home – McGowan is an Elk Grove High School grad – and he could keep in touch with his existing friends while making new connections in college.

McGowan also attended Northern Illinois University for his bachelor’s degree in economics. Then, he returned to Harper for Community Education classes, taking everything from first aid and real estate to intramural sports.
McGowan’s position has taken him throughout the States, Europe, South America and Asia – Foster’s parent company is based in Tokyo. The frequent flyer has conducted business in over 30 countries, leveraging what he’s learned from various cultures and economies to help strengthen the company.

“Since Michael’s role as president, he has made an undeniable impact in leading the initiative of their USA-based manufacturing plant, creating countless new American jobs,” McGowan’s wife, Nancy McGowan, said. “Michael has created a focus on overall employee engagement, including a dedication to promoting and encouraging work-life balance.”

McGowan says he’s thankful his family is so understanding about his travel absences, but he also is thankful to Harper for helping teach him how to better manage his time and prioritize a school/work balance.

“(Community) college was the first time I had to schedule my day and times at work and school,” he says. “Prior to that, (my schedule) was decided for me."

Last Updated: 12/14/23