More than Rocket Science with ITT’s Gretchen McClain

May 1, 2009
Former NASA International Space Station Program manager moves up fast to oversee ITT Fluid & Motion Control Group, including pumps, water and wastewater solutions

By Carlos David Mogollón, Managing Editor

Former NASA International Space Station Program manager moves up fast to oversee ITT Fluid & Motion Control Group, including pumps, water and wastewater solutions

It’s been a sharp upward trajectory for Gretchen McClain, 46, at ITT Corp., but that’s nothing new for this former NASA official.

Gretchen McClain between Colin Sabol (left), ITT vice president of marketing and business development and Juan Gabriel Valdés (right), director of the Chile Project and a former Chilean foreign minister and UN ambassador who also served as a consultant to the UN Development Program and Organization of American States.
Click here to enlarge image

One of four children growing up in Cumberland, MD, and Salt Lake City, UT, she’s from a family of engineers. Her father was a mechanical engineer and she and two of her siblings became engineers as well. Even her husband is an engineer. Graduating from the University of Utah in 1984, she worked in the defense and aerospace industry with Hercules, Atlantic Research. and Grumman Corp. before joining NASA in 1990.

At NASA, she ran the resource management office for the International Space Station, gaining progressivly more responsibility for the program. She also served as deputy director of the office of space flight, chief director of the space station office, and special assistant to the associate administrator of the office of space flight. By 1999, she’d become deputy associate administrator for space development and managed the space station’s $2 billion annual budget, including the shuttle/Mir missions.

She then moved to Allied Signal in Phoenix, AZ, which acquired and became Honeywell that same year – working in three successive vice presidential posts and overseeing engineering, systems and technology development for general aviation and helicopter commercial electronics systems.

She was recruited by ITT in 2005 as president as the Residential & Commercial Water business in the Fluid Technology Group. In April 2007, she became group president and was elected a vice president of the company. In February 2008, she was made a company senior vice president and, in December, was named to the newly created post of president of ITT Fluid & Motion Control – adding the Flow & Motion Control Group to her duties. The new division covers nearly half ITT’s business, with the Defense Group slightly larger.

Never a dull moment, she also takes under her purview the recent purchase of German circulator pump maker Laing GmbH and a global strategic alliance with Atlas Copco to provide energy-saving solutions for wastewater treatment combining its energy-efficient blowers with ITT’s aeration and mixer technologies.

For McClain's full interview in Q&A format, click here.

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