Pearson c.e.o. John Fallon has paid tribute to employee Dieter Kowalski, who was killed in the Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday.
Kowalski, 40, from Denver was a senior leader of the operational technical services team for the company and was in Sri Lanka on a business trip.
Fallon said Kowalski had just arrived at the Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo when he was killed in an explosion.
In a statement to staff, Fallon said: “Dieter had just arrived at his hotel, where many of our colleagues have stayed over the years, when he was killed in an explosion. As a senior leader of our Operation Technical services team, Dieter was looking forward to an action-packed week, working with our local engineering teams to troubleshoot some difficult challenges that were important to our customers, and with whom Dieter regularly engaged. He was excited about the chance to meet again in person, some two and a half years after his last trip, with Sri Lankan colleagues who had become good friends. Our Sri Lankan colleagues were very much looking forward to seeing him, too.
“Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was. They tell of a man to whom we could give our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems, knowing full well that he would jump straight in and help us figure it out. Dieter, they tell me, was never happier than cheer-leading for our customers and our company and inspiring people in the best way he knew how – by helping them to fix things and doing it with joy, happiness and grace. He was a man who took great pride in the purpose of our company – helping our students progress in their studies and their lives mattered to him.
“We mourn Dieter deeply today. We pray for his soul, and for his family and friends. We pray, too, for our colleagues in Sri Lanka, and Denver, and Boston, and in Pearson offices around the world. We’re angry that a good man, who took simple pleasure in fixing things, has been killed, along with many others, by evil men and women who know only how to destroy. But in our anger and despair, we remember the words of Queen Elizabeth II in the aftermath of 9/11. Grief, she said, is the price we pay for love. Let’s remember the love that Dieter had for his family, friends and colleagues – and the love they had for him. Let’s remember his love of life and his love of solving people’s problems. In these desperately difficult days, let’s honour Dieter by showing that love ourselves, by taking extra care of each other – at work, at home and in our communities.
“We are doing all we can to support Dieter’s family, colleagues and friends. We’re also supporting our 800 colleagues in Sri Lanka, who do so much to support our company and our customers every day. We’ll share further updates with you in the days and weeks ahead.”
According to NBC, Kowalski posted on Facebook on Friday that he was flying to Colombo, writing: “And the fun begins. Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!”
Sri Lankan authorities confirmed this morning that 359 people were killed and more than 500 people injured in the suicide bombings which saw six almost simultaneous blasts across three churches and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo.