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A Perfectionist Heads for the Islands

ASTM International Senior Vice President Kenneth Pearson Retires

Kenneth Pearson has kept smiling all through his ASTM career.

A perfectionist who always strives for excellence. A straight shooter with a sense of humor. A mentor to ASTM International staff who has always been available to provide his insight when challenging issues emerge.

These are the descriptions that arise when people talk about Kenneth Pearson, senior vice president, ASTM International, who is retiring at the end of January.

Kenneth Pearson arrived at ASTM in March 1976 as an assistant manager. Over the course of 10 years, Pearson received several promotions, becoming vice president of ASTM’s Technical Committee Operations division in 1987. Pearson held that position until becoming senior vice president in 2007, providing valuable leadership to more areas of the organization.

But at heart, helping ASTM members has been the hallmark of Pearson’s ASTM career. Katharine Morgan, who succeeded Pearson as ASTM’s vice president of technical committee operations in 2007, notes that Pearson would often tell his staff, “Put yourselves in the shoes of the member,” when considering the effect of changes on members. Both Morgan and Dan Smith, assistant vice president, technical committee operations, note that during the development of ASTM’s website in the 1990s, it was imperative to Pearson that the “My Committees” area of the site be as intuitive and easy to use for members as possible.

“ASTM members have always valued his counsel,” says Morgan. “They see him as responsive and interested, a partner with them in standards issues.”

Pearson’s commitment to serving the needs of ASTM International members led to his high expectations for ASTM staff. While Pearson demanded the best from his staff at all times, he also facilitated this excellence by remaining accessible, particularly when managers were faced with complex situations.

Pearson expresses deep satisfaction with his time at ASTM.

“I am fortunate to have been at a place for 37 years and enjoyed the opportunity of assisting the technical members in their development of excellent standards that have been used in a positive way around the world,” says Pearson.

Pearson has been involved in ushering in changes to benefit both the organization and membership. Among the new initiatives that he has helped introduce are the Proficiency Testing Program, technical and professional training and, most recently, the certification program.

In addition, Pearson has been involved in the challenges of using the latest technology to its best advantage. The electronic delivery of ballots, minutes and meeting notices has streamlined standards development and enabled the participation of members in distant time zones. Pearson is pleased that the membership’s acceptance of technological changes has gone smoothly.

Pearson claims that on Feb. 1, he will “sleep a little later, get up, relax with a cup of coffee and maybe go to the gym,” but his retirement plans also include a combination of island-hopping travel and the sport he loves: Pearson has played golf in such far-flung locales as Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Florida and the Carolinas, and he hopes to return to many of those places.

While Pearson is perfecting his golf swing, ASTM staff will continue to act on his imperative to always put the concerns of ASTM’s volunteers first.

“Ken has always been a person who was very much focused on members,” says James Thomas, president, ASTM International. “We will miss having Ken with us at ASTM but everyone here will no doubt continue to hear Ken’s voice reminding us to consider ‘How will this affect members?’ We wish Ken the very best in his retirement.”

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.