Meet the Fellows - Doug Cowper FIET

Fellowship supports both Doug Cowper’s consultancy work and his push to recognise the professionalism of systems engineering.


Image of Doug Cowper FIET Doug Cowper is a highly experienced systems engineering manager who currently runs his own consultancy firm.

Starting his career as an electronic apprentice, he was sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to study a BEng in electronic and electrical engineering and joined its accredited graduate scheme, where he got his first taste of project management and support to work towards Chartership. Over the years he’s worked at several avionics firms gaining further experience and skills and also lectured at the University College London. During this time he also undertook a part-time PhD, which allowed him to conduct research into Systems Engineering and Technology Management.

Being his own boss

Returning to industry, he eventually began his own company; Cleave Systems, in 2007.

“At the time I was working for a small consultancy firm. I was hoping that being in a small organisation would mean it had that feel of agility and you’d feel like you were influencing the business etc,” he explains. “But what I ended up doing was being embedded on a long-term contract and I actually felt more like an employee of the organisation I was placed in, rather than the organisation I’d joined.

“(I knew what I wanted) so I thought why not do this for myself? Now, being managing director of my own business gives me an opportunity to develop new areas and allows me to have a range of clients and organisations in which to get involved in. I find this variety very interesting,” he enthuses.

As well as being a long-term IET member, Cowper’s also been an active INCOSE member for almost a decade and is the current president for INCOSE UK. This was another plus to self-employment, as it allowed him to gain more control over his time; he had the flexibility to attend all necessary events and meetings related to the presidency.

Supporting systems engineers

Alongside the benefits to his own company, Cowper believes that achieving Fellow status will help support a big project he is currently working on to support fellow systems engineers; to help more people from this sector become professionally registered.

“As president I’ve been working with my INCOSE colleagues towards building the professionalism of systems engineering,” he says. “The organisation is now a professional affiliate of the Engineering Council, and we’ve been looking at using the professional affiliate ‘buddy schemes’ with other institutions such as the IET to professionally recognise systems engineers. This is needed as we don’t have a royal charter ourselves.

“A certain proportion of our membership has come through a systems engineering degree course and feel they have achieved the criteria necessary to apply for Chartership. We’re looking to work with other institutions to make this happen, we want their work to be recognised,” he explains.

“Another area of professional recognition work has been to try and align the INCOSE International Expert Systems Engineering Practitioner designation to the Fellow level of the UK institutions. This was how my own application came about,” he continues. “When discussing what the threshold should be, I thought it would be useful to go through the process myself, and being recognised for my achievements to date is also very useful for my credibility and credentials. As we at INCOSE are trying to push forward professional recognition for systems engineering, it helps to be recognised yourself,” he enthuses.

Further benefits of Fellow status

“Of course there’s the benefit to me commercially in terms of my day job at Cleave Systems, but there’s also the benefit of being professionally recognised at the Fellow level when I talk to other institutions, it’s all part of truly recognising systems engineering.

“It’s early days now, but I’m hoping being recognised as a Fellow will be helpful to both my day job and the work I’m doing with INCOSE,” he concludes. “It will be interesting to see how it all pans out, and what the benefits to my Fellowship will be…”