Katherine Pearce

Manager of IT, Beaumont Health System
EGL (BSE/MSE-IOE) '03
 
"Global awareness combined with engineering pedigree make Katherine Pearce a unique leader"
 
ANN ARBOR, Mich. --How many 8-year-olds can say their most memorable Christmas present was a hair clip given to them by a virtual stranger in a Mexican fishing village? Not many. Rochester Hills native Katherine Kennedy Pearce, EGL ’03, admittedly had a unique childhood full of experiences that helped shape the person that she is today, and that continue to influence the kind of leader she is in her position as Manager of IT at Beaumont Health System in Troy.

Global awareness from her mother and an engineering mind inherited from her father gave Pearce a balanced foundation on which to build a career and a life. After high school, she chose to continue on the technical career path she had chosen by attending the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering where she earned her BSE and MSE in IOE.

The global focus of Tauber’s program was a perfect fit for Pearce who had already seen much of the world thanks to an insightful mother who took her on several overseas trips as a child. The pair travelled to Europe, Africa, Central and South America, and always tried to get off the beaten path and meet the locals. Her first big trip was to Mexico when she was eight.

“While shopping at a little fish market on the outskirts of town, we got invited by a fisherman to have Christmas dinner with his family, since we had no other plans. I remember driving to the fisherman’s home, which was cut into the side of a hill, and being surprised that it was only one room and the floor was made of dirt. Also, I recall the children’s rooms were divided by shower curtains. They were so generous to us, giving us small gifts for Christmas and including us in their family celebration. I especially remember their daughter, who was around my age, and how special it made me feel when she gave me one of her favorite barrettes. From these kinds of trips, I learned that while memories of beaches and museums start to fade and blend together over time, the people you meet along the way stick with you. Traveling gave me an appreciation of how impactful it can be to form relationships with people in different parts of the world,” said Pearce.

The Tauber Factor

While at U-M, Pearce said she discovered how to learn new topics, solve problems, work in teams, and get results. “These skills have helped me throughout my career. Perhaps the most helpful thing is not being afraid to learn something completely new and different. In my current field, Healthcare Information Technology, there are always opportunities to work on solving new problems or developing new processes as technologies emerge and evolve, and my eagerness to take on these assignments has been helpful for me,” she said.

Her experience in the Integrated Product Development (IPD) class still resonates. The team-based class culminated in a head-to-head competition. “I remember at one point during the semester a teammate and I went to the professor because we felt like something was ‘not fair’, and was putting us at a disadvantage against the other teams. We wanted the professor to do something about it. But the whole point of the class was that the competition was intended to simulate the real world, where things are often ‘not fair’, so no action was taken. From this I learned that it doesn’t do you much good to worry about whether something is fair or not. It’s more important to stay focused on your goal and do your best,” Pearce said.

Giving back to the program remains a priority for Pearce, who served as Alumni Mentorship Chair in 2010. “It is very important for me to remain connected to U-M and Tauber. I have spoken several times at Tauber student forums and recently, as part of the Healthcare Engineering Program, I gave a presentation to engineering students specifically interested in the healthcare field,” she said.

Career Path

Throughout her high school and undergraduate years, Pearce participated in the General Motors Technical Academy and then the General Motors Global Co-op Program, which allowed her to work in various engineering and manufacturing facilities throughout Michigan, as well as in Silao, Mexico. She also completed an Internship at Kamax-Tusa S.A. in Valencia, Spain in 2001. Her Spotlight! project with GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant involved the development of a prototype software system for line employees to document their work. Upon graduation she accepted a position with GM as an Industrial Engineer in the Competitive Operations Engineering Department at the Flint Assembly Plant and was responsible for maintaining job instructions for 140 assembly line workstations as well as improving efficiencies.

“I joined Beaumont Health System in 2005, when they were hiring Business Operations Analysts into the IT Department to help with the implementation of the new electronic medical record software program. My first role on the team was as a software testing coordinator, creating and managing detailed test scripts and facilitating issue resolution.

“In 2006, I worked on a team rolling out the new software in the Emergency Centers, which involved collecting design requirements from nurses and physicians, observing and documenting workflows, developing project plans, working basically through the whole project lifecycle through software launch and support. In 2009, I was assigned to the corporate Project Management Office to temporarily assist in coordinating and tracking projects for a variety of financial turnaround efforts during the 2009 economic downturn that hit the Detroit area particularly hard,” she said.

Pearce was named Manager of the OR/Anesthesia Team in Beaumont’s IT department in 2009. Her team is responsible for developing and supporting clinical software for Surgical Services, Anesthesia and Emergency Center customers. She also assists the corporate Project Management Office as a liaison for the IT department as Beaumont considers a potential merger with the Henry Ford Health System.

“I expect my team members to do their best every day, and I expect the same of myself. I got great advice from my first manager at Beaumont. She advised me that no matter what, you should be able to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know you did the right thing,” said Pearce.

When she is not working, she enjoys running, reading and spending time with her husband, who is a managing engineer at a technical consulting firm. A new mother herself, Pearce will no doubt share her experiences with her young son and give him the opportunity to think globally, just like her mother did for her.

View more Tauber Institute alumni profiles.

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Katherine Pearce Beaumont Health Systems IT Manager
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