GENEVA — Rebecca Lowell Edwards, who spent the last 18 months with the International Olympic Committee,  has joined Schneider Electric as the company’s first global communications leader.

In the new job, which starts today, Edwards will initially focus on expanding Paris-based Schneider’s communications function, with an emphasis on building worldwide visibility of the energy management giant and its executives. She also plans to expand the division with new hires.

Edwards said Schneider’s commitment to energy-efficient systems will be central to her efforts. “It's a pivotal time for the company but also a pivotal time for the (planet) in that one of the biggest problems we have to solve is climate change,” she said, making driving home the benefits of energy efficient systems all the more important.

Edwards will remain in Switzerland untIl next summer to see her children through the school year, and will then relocate to her home state, Massachusetts. The ability to move closer to her mother, who is battling cancer, was a key factor behind Edwards leaving the IOC.

While serving as the IOC's strategic communications director, Edwards worked on the creation and implementation of a new communications strategy. Before that, she held several leadership positions with GE.

Edwards' hiring is the latest step in Schneider’s recent effort to make public relations a priority, implementing systems to measure its impact on business. The company's extensive global web of internal and external PR providers has included up to 47 agencies.

With the company approaching its 200th birthday, Schneider is attempting to further its transformation from a supplier of traditional products like switches and relays to a tech-centered provider of energy-efficient smart power systems. In November, the company hired H+K Strategies to drive its global PR strategy, while Text100 handles Schneider’s business in the US.