• By Bill Lydon
  • The Final Say

The International Society of Automation’s current executive director, Mary Ramsey, will retire at the end of the year. She leaves behind her many accomplishments, including alignment of ISA’s goals, objectives, and actions, and the creation of the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance (ISAGCA). In my opinion, Mary Ramsey has done a great job as executive director, both by advancing ISA’s stature in the industry and in dealing with the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic.

A mix of serendipity and intuition let me play a part in Mary’s coming to ISA. I have been close to the organization ever since I was introduced to it as a young engineer at Johnson Controls in the 1970s. A vice president who was an active member recommended I join, and my first formal contact was attending an ISA three-day short course in 1975. The leading-edge topic was “applying microprocessors for control.”

I had known Mary professionally for many years—she had already had more than 20 years of experience in industrial automation when Schneider Electric promoted her into the role of senior vice president of its U.S. Industry Business in 2012—when ISA began searching for a new executive director in 2017. At that point, I was aware Mary was available for another challenge, which was serendipitous. I then followed the advice given me years earlier by that Johnson Controls vice president who said, “To make things happen, it is important to have knowledge and respect your intuition.”

Serendipity and intuition explain my call to Mary Ramsey, during which I described the position and why I thought she would be a good fit. With her permission, I introduced her to the search committee, and, after a rigorous search-and-evaluation process, Mary was chosen as the new ISA executive director. She brought skills in leadership, change management, and strategy development and execution, and I will simply state that her achievements met all my expectations.

There are always opportunities and challenges moving an organization forward, but neither Mary nor any of us foresaw the world-changing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact. She sought out opinions from throughout the organization and navigated that difficult challenge well.

Even more importantly, Mary understood that organizations need to periodically recalibrate based on member and industry needs, and she has done a great job of collaborating with staff and member volunteers to craft clear definitions of ISA guiding principles:

  • Vision: Create a better world through automation.
  • Mission: Advance technical competence by connecting the automation community to achieve operational excellence.
  • Values: Excellence, Integrity, Diversity and Inclusion, Collaboration, Professionalism.

The strategic objectives and programs that followed this realignment have advanced ISA’s stature in industry. Mary will be leaving ISA at the end of 2021 with the satisfaction of a job well done. She turns over an improved organization to the new ISA executive director, Claire Ramspeck. I invite all to join me in giving Mary a big thank you for a job well done and wish her well.

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About The Authors

Bill Lydon is an InTech contributing editor with more than 25 years of industry experience. He regularly provides news reports, observations, and insights here and on Automation.com