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A career in quality qw july 08

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A career in quality qw july 08

  1. 1. 22-26 STOKES JULY 08.qxd 19/06/2008 10:08 Page 22 careers a quality career The quality industry is changing. As the business world acknowledges that quality is as much about people as about processes, quality practitioners and their skills are becoming increasingly recognised and valued. Helen Stokes talks to four quality professionals about why they made quality their career of choice Iwona Polowy Quality specialist in the UK There used to be just a few subjects at university that I got very passionate about and quality man- agement was one of them. I knew that the quickest way to learn about quality would be to meet peo- ple who work with it on a daily basis, so I set up a student’s organisation called ‘TQM’. We did our first research on implementing ISO standards among companies in south-west Poland. A profes- sional body validated the research and we pub- lished the results at an event which attracted various organisations, media and quality profes- sionals. Nevertheless, there were not many quality professionals in Poland in the late 1990s! Before completion of my Master’s degree, I took a gap year and travelled to the UK for work, to pol- ‘Roles in quality require ish my English but primarily to make my own observations on quality. My Master’s thesis con- excellent communication cerned implementation of the British Retail Con- and interpersonal skills’ sortium standard based on a placement at a brewery company in London. I then found out about the Institute of Quality Assurance (now the Chartered Quality Institute) 22 JULY 2008
  2. 2. 22-26 STOKES JULY 08.qxd 19/06/2008 10:08 Page 23 careers by chance and began to work for them as training for them and the project. For my next challenge, I and education officer. The CQI has made a great would like to undertake an overseas assignment. impact on my life and had a large part to play in Undoubtedly, in the oil and gas industry, there are my decision to pursue a career in quality manage- plenty of opportunities to make it happen! ment. Through its staff and ongoing contact with Certainly, quality isn’t free but I believe it is an its members, I have grown and developed as an investment that pays. Understanding and defining individual and as a quality professional. I com- what exactly you need to do will save you time and pleted every possible CQI training course on offer a lot of money later on. However, even with this and talked to delegates about their work and chal- clear vision, unless you as a leader ‘walk the talk’ lenges during my time there. After two years, I you will not get to where you want to be. decided to move on and put the knowledge I had Roles in quality require excellent communica- gained into practice. tion and interpersonal skills to allow you to In 2006, I began work for a major oil and gas smoothly interface with staff at all levels. You contractor, MW Kellogg, as a graduate quality, should also have sound planning skills and be able health, safety and environment engineer. It is a to simplify complexity. This together with a posi- project-driven organisation with a mature inte- tive and flexible approach can help you make a real grated management system. I went through an impact in working life. accelerated training programme and learned about If you are bold enough to stand out from the practical tools and techniques used to effectively crowd and say how things are rather than how peo- implement management systems on a project, in ple would like them to be, then you should con- accordance with ISO standards and contract sider pursuing a career in quality management. It is requirements. a profession ideal for those who like to travel, meet One of my most interesting tasks – which I people from all over the world, have an eye for enjoyed very much – was to revamp a quality detail and like to look at the ‘big picture’. If you are induction. With a colleague and a team of graphic a person that is excited by a challenge and want to designers, we built a foundation for the behav- make a difference to the world, you are more than ioural quality programme. Initially, we interviewed likely to succeed as a quality professional. people at all levels about their perception and expe- rience of quality. It became apparent to me that the role of qual- ity has significantly evolved. It is no longer just Aanas Ruhoumaully about control, meeting our own standards; or Consultant and trainer in Mauritius about quality experts checking up on people. Listening to non-quality professionals talking Whenever I facilitate training sessions on about doing things right for our customers first quality management systems, I always time, every time made me feel proud and gave me speak lengthily on Deming’s plan-do- a lot of personal satisfaction. For some of us, it was check-act cycle, with particular emphasis just the beginning of an ongoing journey that led on the planning aspect, but I never us to embrace quality as personal value in the way planned to work in the quality field! we do our work; a journey that never ends. When I graduated as an environmental A year later, in July 2007, I became a quality engineer from the University of Mauritius in specialist and started to work on a multimillion- 2001, I joined a training and consultancy com- pound Norwegian project. One of my most pany, Quensh Dynamics, as a trainer/consultant in rewarding challenges was helping one of our over- environmental management. Unfortunately, there seas subcontractors who did not have experience was no queue of companies vying for ISO 14001. ‘To be a good consult- with such large and complex engineering, procure- So, to keep me busy, I was plunged into the ocean ant, humility is the ment and construction projects. We needed to start of quality management systems. After accompany- best policy’ from scratch and establish a management system fit ing a more experienced colleague for a couple of JULY 2008 23
  3. 3. 22-26 STOKES JULY 08.qxd 19/06/2008 10:08 Page 24 careers months, I was allowed to swim on my own and I the expertise of the customer in his or her partic- was given my first company: a freight forwarding ular field. organisation. Incidentally, I do not get job satisfaction solely The need to further my knowledge in quality from helping a high-profile organisation achieve swiftly became apparent. I was on the look-out for certification or completing a project well ahead of overseas universities, cursing the low value of our schedule. I’ve always considered that clause 6.2 of local currency which had caused the tuition fees of ISO 9001 on human resources is far too elemen- British and Australian universities to skyrocket, tary. It has been extremely gratifying whenever I when the University of Mauritius launched its first- have managed to convince senior management to ever Master’s in quality management. I secured a integrate issues of employee welfare and human place and graduated, two years later, in 2005. rights into their HR strategy. Indeed, I cannot Quality is about understanding your customers’ envisage the future of management systems with- requirements and satisfying them. If a customer out corporate social responsibility – and I hope to wants ISO 9001 certification only for use as a mar- be fully involved. keting tool, there is one approach. If the customer wants certification for continual improvement, there is another. For the first, the basic minimum including the six mandatory procedures is Emma Newman required. For the second, identification, analysis International quality associate in the UK and improvement of processes at all levels within the organisation takes place. It might sound cyni- My degree, electronic marine navigation and cal, but this philosophy has spared me from having marine law, introduced me to computers in the to wrestle with many a ‘pig in the mud’. early 1990s. Leaving university with a first-class Working in the quality field is like subscribing honours degree, but in a little-recognised subject, to a never-ending learning process. Early in 2007, my career was limited towards computing-focused the Ministry of Trade and Commerce in Mauritius sectors. Luckily my local town had a fast-growing issued a regulation requiring all third-party and company developing a new technology – mobile medical laboratories to be accredited to ISO 17025 phones – and required computer trainers. and ISO 15189 respectively, in order to continue Moving on to a global bespoke software com- their operations. So there I was assimilating the pany and training pharmaceutical sales forces in vocabulary of laboratory management, updating using software, it became common practice to my mental dictionary with terms such as ‘interlab- ‘check’ software before training. This helped to oratory comparison’, ‘proficiency testing’ and ‘val- load information and check that the software per- idation of test methods’. formed as expected during training. This was To be a good consultant, humility is the best truly software testing to user specification in its policy. Always make it clear that you are not an earliest form! expert in paint manufacturing or biscuit making, Over time I moved to more formalised testing but in quality management systems. In and away from training, as the two unique fact, before someone tells you that roles started to be recognised by the com- she has a PhD in paint technology pany and by the clients paying for the or he has 35 years’ experience project. By the late 1990s I was in food processing and noth- focused full-time on quality plan- ing to learn from you, tell ning and testing of bespoke him or her that you have nothing to teach him or her in her field.The trick is to get the right synergy between ‘I have brought new ini- your quality knowledge and tiatives to existing processes which have 24 JULY 2008 reduced costs’
  4. 4. 22-26 STOKES JULY 08.qxd 19/06/2008 10:08 Page 25 careers software, progressing within the company to Euro- positively contributing to a company’ success. I pean quality manager. don’t know what the future holds, but working to I then moved to a contract manufacturing com- integrate a quality management system with envi- pany of cosmetic and pharmaceutical goods as a ronmental standards, within a lean organisation quality manager with an ISO focus. I decided to would be thrilling! take the CQI Diploma in Quality to gain formal recognition of my quality knowledge and move forward in my career. It helped me to move into my current role, where I work for a global Roy Green pharmaceutical company. We operate internation- Quality director in Canada ally using contract manufacturers and packaging sites globally and I work as an international qual- From my early days in London as a quality engi- ity associate. neer, I have progressed through a series of fortu- Studying for the diploma gave me the opportu- itous, interesting and sometimes unexpected situ- nity to meet like-minded professionals from other ations to the present day as a quality director industries who challenged concepts and bad habits in Toronto, Canada. I had picked up ‘on the job’. The work for my My first job was in an elec- diploma project also allowed management to see tronics lab at ITT in the UK in what worked and what didn’t. As a result I have 1966. It was a job which I brought new initiatives to existing processes disliked, so when I heard which have reduced costs and I also provide in- about a new quality house training for quality initiatives. engineering depart- My proudest moment in quality came after ment, I volunteered some time spent working with a group who con- immediately. On my sidered quality assurance something best kept in first day, I suddenly the dark. They approached me for ideas on a pro- ran outside and was posal which they could not get approved via the violently sick (later to company’s internal US quality assurance group. be diagnosed with Being approached was a great feeling, but to then stomach flu) and this be able to provide a successful conclusion was even gained me instant recog- better. It proved my strongest belief that quality nition. I was also fortunate can help business be profitable and compliant by to learn quality methods applying risk-based documentation. first-hand since the (then) cor- Quality principles can apply to all sectors, but porate VP of quality for ITT was the the critical message not fully understood by all sec- renowned quality guru Philip Crosby. In ‘A life in quality: often tors is that quality is not about identifying failures. terms of professional recognition, I joined the When used pragmatically and with a sound Institute of Engineering Inspection in 1966 – interesting, sometimes risk-based approach, it can help business meet today the CQI. surprising, occasionally increasing regulations, but also improve profitabil- One of the key lessons I learned early on, was frustrating, but never ity. Quality covers all business sectors (both how to communicate the importance of quality. A public and private) and is able to transverse all ele- machine operator making repetitive telephone boring’ ments of the business. It is not solely about manu- exchange parts didn’t care about quality and just facturing or defects, but is much more about kept producing thousands of unusable pieces. I process improvement. took him to a working telephone exchange, In every aspect of quality work there is the explained how his part functioned and showed opportunity to not only be involved with different him that if it wasn’t made perfectly, perhaps he groups and learn new things but also to be able to wouldn’t be able to make that important emer- bring tools and techniques to the business, gency call. Next day the operator refused to JULY 2008 25
  5. 5. 22-26 STOKES JULY 08.qxd 19/06/2008 10:08 Page 26 careers operate his machine. He demanded a proper set- Norampac. A company merger resulted in my up, regular samples, control charts – all of the leaving to do more training and consulting until things he had refused to allow before. He went on joining ITS Electronics, a growing electronics to become one of our best operators. company, with customers such as Boeing and In 1970 I moved to GEC as a senior quality NASA, as quality manager. At my first attempt, and engineer. While compiling quality costs, I discov- to my great delight, I achieved company certifica- ered that scrap costs exceeded profit for the divi- tion to the tough AS 9100 aerospace standard. sion. I was offered a position as assistant In Canada I joined the American Society for controller, but I declined. I had no desire to leave Quality in 1972 and became programme chair of the quality field (which I love) and enter the the Toronto Section. A rare privilege involved host- world of accounting. In addition at that time, ing a membership meeting with the legendary increased taxes, inflation and a minimal raise quality guru Dr Joseph Juran. made it difficult to earn an adequate take-home I also chaired the Toronto ASQ’s long-range pay as an engineer in the UK, so I started to look planning committee, seeking to advance the cause further afield. of quality in Canada. A national quality award was In 1971 I moved to Toronto, Canada and joined proposed to the government and was praised in CGE to become involved in cost reduction and principle, but not acted upon as they felt industry problem solving. Lack of ‘Canadian experience’ should administer it. Then the newly-formed resulted in a lower salary which did not catch up Canadian Advisory Council took up the cause, fol- as promised, so I moved to Northern Electric lowed later by the National Quality Institute, (later Nortel) and back into quality engineering. which still administers the Canadian Awards for I spent 15 years at Nortel in roles which varied Excellence, including a category on quality. across locations and functions from shopfloor and As Toronto section chair, I was asked what ASQ office to corporate HQ, and from hardware to was doing for the burgeoning discipline of soft- software. One project involved investigating a ware. Since the answer at the time was ‘not a lot’, production line with too many defects. I set up a I attended software quality conferences in the US limited design experiment, took samples and and formed a software quality committee to measurements and concluded that the design tol- share ideas. erances made it impossible for the assembly oper- There was no standard for software quality ators to do better. The union leader personally assurance and therefore we set about writing one. thanked me, saying it was the first time that his We naturally joined forces with the Canadian workers had not been blamed for poor quality. Standards Association (CSA) to form the CSA Further, to everyone’s surprise (including my Technical Committee on software quality assur- own), the product quality improved anyway and ance, producing a series of Canadian national stayed in control, even though nothing changed. I standards on software quality. attributed this to the well-known (and sometimes These ultimately were source documents for contested) Hawthorne effect – someone actually what evolved into ISO 9000-3 and subsequently listened to the operators, so they themselves made the ISO/IEC 90003 standard on software quality it work because somebody cared! assurance. I also became a member of the Cana- This started me thinking about the effect of dian Advisory Committee on quality assurance motivation on quality, which led to my ‘Quality and quality management, which provides Cana- Through People’ approach on which I lectured dian inputs to ISO 9000. extensively. This began in the late 1970s, long So there you have it: a life in quality. Often before the people aspects of quality became gen- interesting, sometimes surprising, occasionally erally accepted. frustrating, but never boring! I have made invalu- When Nortel downsized in the 1980s I started able contacts and enjoyed networking, with many my own quality consulting and training business, opportunities to learn and to contribute. It comes but a recession later forced me to re-enter the cor- highly recommended and you never know where porate world, this time as quality manager for it might lead 26 JULY 2008