Dr. Gary Gates
Managing Director for Pearson VUE
Together we’ll make 2024 an exceptional year
Now entering his third year as Managing Director for Pearson VUE, Dr. Gary Gates shares what made 2023 such a successful year, and how, together, we can all extend these successes into 2024 and beyond.
1. Reflecting on 2023 — for yourself and on behalf of your team — what are you most proud of?
First of all, I'm most proud of what we do every day. We’re delivering an exam every 1.6 seconds, and we're helping people make progress in their career or education journey by assisting them in achieving a credential. Secondly, I am very proud that we've seen such strong growth in 2023.
These two things go hand in hand. We are helping test-takers and our clients all over the globe achieve their goals, and through this we are achieving ours. Of course, we could never do this without all the people at Pearson VUE. I’m so proud of our team, and the way we all work together to meet our clients’ expectations, provide test-takers with a superior experience, and grow our business.
I’m also proud of the PDRI acquisition we made in March 2023. They are a great addition to our business and our service offerings, but also, they've got the right culture, a great team, and they are performing very well.
2. Your second year as Managing Director included acquisitions, new business wins, and the continued expansion of our test center network. What do you believe helped the business navigate all of this so well this past year?
I believe a key reason why we performed so well this past year was having a very strong team. Pearson VUE has 5,000 people around the globe working together to achieve our goals. Having very clearly defined goals and making sure everyone understands what we're trying to achieve is important. We are all, throughout the business, committed to delivering to the highest standards. The way we work and come together to deliver is what makes the difference. After all, you're only as good as the team that works with you, and I think that is the secret of our success.
The other factor that has led to our success in 2023 is knowing our customers. We are laser focused on our customers, test-takers, and test sponsors (the people who own the tests) alike. We're assisting candidates in over 190 countries, and our focus remains to provide our test-takers with a fair, reliable, secure, and convenient testing experience.
3. We also faced several challenges, from conflicts in territories where Pearson VUE operates, to a growing trend toward the integration of AI across all industries. What are some of the industry changes and challenges you feel we need to prepare for as we look toward 2024/2025?
As we operate in 190 countries, we are sure to face some sort of challenge whenever a geopolitical issue arises. What we have learned is that we manage each situation in a very clear and considered way, making sure we treat our staff correctly, empowering them to best handle the situation, and helping where we can. Going forward, we will continue to do this.
As we look ahead, I think one of the biggest opportunities is obviously the continued adoption of AI to advance our products and services to our customers. We’ve been using AI for many years, such as scoring of certain assessments, detecting cheating using human-assisted AI through OnVUE, our online proctoring offering, and test fraud detection. The rapid development in generative AI provides even more opportunities to further enhance our offerings.
With that said, we always keep in mind that whilst embracing the advances in AI (and technology in general) we need to make sure that we keep focused on our customers, and help to maintain the integrity and fairness of the testing experience.
4. How are we delivering on our promise to our clients? And to candidates?
Our promise to our clients and candidates alike is to provide a globally consistent testing experience which is fair, reliable, secure, and convenient. We are making good on this promise by continuing to invest in our core technology and at the same time investing in expanding our global test center network.
User experience is key for us, and we've set up our own user experience team to focus on working towards an even more seamless candidate experience. No one wants to go to the dentist, but they liked the outcome of having nice teeth. Similarly, while very few enjoy taking an examination, everyone enjoys the outcome of gaining a credential. So, what we need to do is make sure we have a fair, reliable, secure testing experience that is as easy and frictionless as possible.
Another aspect we continue to invest in is providing a greater degree of convenience for the candidate. Therefore, our focus includes the expansion of our global network, both our company-owned and our third-party test centres. We have the world’s largest test center network, and our network is set to grow even more as the expansion strategy progresses. In fact, in 2023 we built our largest test center in India, with the capacity to deliver more than 14,000 tests per month.
5. How do you see Pearson VUE attracting and attaining the best talent in the industry?
Pearson VUE has a long history of attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry. I think there are several reasons why this is the case.
Firstly, and most importantly, our culture and missions of being laser focused on our customers and helping people gain a certification or license to progress their career; helping turn learners into earners.
Secondly, our growth story. Organizations that are growing not only represent a successful company, but also provide growth opportunities for individuals to progress their careers.
And thirdly, we have a good reputation in the market.
All of these go back to what I previously stated — that we performed well in 2023 because of our people; because everyone has worked towards a shared set of clearly defined objectives, and that our people are given the tools and the freedom to do their job well.
6. What are your top priorities for Pearson VUE in 2024?
As we look to 2024, we will continue to push forward with our strategic initiatives, all guided by continuing to support candidates around the globe to earn a certification or license to progress in their career. Broadly, our top priorities for the year ahead are:
- Remain laser focused on our customers, making sure we are providing a fair, reliable, and secure testing experience
- Continue to grow our business and meet our financial targets
- Continue to invest in our core platform, guided by the candidate user experience
- Develop our overall thought leadership in AI
- Advance our diversity, equity, and inclusivity standing
7. Looking ahead, for both the business and industry at large, what are you excited about?
I am excited at the opportunity that AI would give to both our business and the broader industry in how assessments are done. AI will drive the need for more assessments because there's going to be different job roles, and also different ways of doing assessments. I don't think we should be scared of AI. We should embrace it and the change it will bring.