It is a dream come true for me to say that I’m the 2019 Chair-Elect of the 70,000 member American Society for Quality (ASQ). My involvement with ASQ over the years has taken me from Atlanta to New York City to Silicon Valley, each change in geography growing in parallel to my career in the quality assurance (QA) profession. It is a huge honor and privilege to now help lead the Society from a global perspective.
// HONORS & RECOGNITION
November 2016 - Named one of Quality Progress Magazine's New Voices of Quality, the magazine's 40 under 40-ish list
November 2015 - Elected as Fellow of ASQ
June 2013 - Recipient of ASQ's Armand Feigenbaum Medal, the Society's top international honor for a young professional
// SUPPLY CHAIN QUALITY AND SUCH
My quality assurance (QA) expertise is in supply chain and manufacturing quality (which pretty much just means I used to spend a lot of time hanging out in factories and warehouses in remote parts of the world).
Along the way I've worked alongside some of the most incredible folks ever in the QA profession. Building better processes that enable the best possible experiences for the end user has become central to my product development work in the present day.
As part of the 2019 - 2021 Executive Committee of ASQ, I am part of a team that leads 70,000 volunteer ASQers globally alongside a the full time ASQers based in Milwaukee.
Previously, I served on ASQ's Board of Directors from January 2016 - December 2017, working on the quality brand and voice of the customer. Prior to that, I served in local and regional leadership roles throughout the Society, including Vice Chair of the ASQ Silicon Valley Section (Section #613) and Chair of the New York/ New Jersey Metropolitan Section (Section #300).
Once Upon an ASQ
I learned so much getting to serve on the volunteer leadership teams of two ASQ sections on two different coasts. I met some pretty cool people, learned world class practices, held dinner lectures everywhere from the lecture halls of Columbia University, to the back corner booths of Midtown Manhattan Italian restaurants, roomy Spanish restaurants in New Jersey, to convention center lobbies in Silicon Valley. ASQ has been an adventure.
When I started my career as a 21 year old process quality engineer at a Duracell factory outside Atlanta, I was urged to join ASQ when my manager handed me a torn-out page from an issue of Quality Progress Magazine. It was an application to become an ASQ member, which my employer, Duracell batteries, fully supported and encouraged. I filled out the application in ballpoint pen and mailed it with an actual paper check to a faraway place in Milwaukee on a mysterious sounding street called Plankinton Avenue.
To now be granted the opportunity to lead this organization is a real dream come true and I’m just so grateful to all my mentors, colleagues and ASQ’ers from around the world throughout these many years that have taken chances on me, stood in my corner when they had no business doing so, or gotten my back when I’ve stumbled. They were my trusted advisors and reality-checkers and they helped make today possible.
// A blurb I wrote as part of ASQ's 70th Anniversary celebrations in 2016
A CHEMICAL ENGINEER WALKS INTO A BAR...
Just a few blocks away from New York City's Penn Station is a modern day saloon called Mustang Harry's. The dimly lit, wood paneled dining area is often packed, name badge to name badge, with New Yorkers winding down over happy hour.
In 2006, I had just moved to the Northeast and was eager to get involved with ASQ, but in this space crammed with merry office workers, I was unsure if I would ever be able to pick out the quality professionals hidden in my midst. When the host pointed at a particularly loud and raucous group on the mezzanine and said "ASQ" I was certain she was mistaken. QA folks have fun, but that much fun? That group, which consisted of Dak Murthy, Bill Latzko, Joe Borden, Joe Paperman and Sue Watson, welcomed me to the table with open arms (literally). My first night with the New York / New Jersey Metropolitan Section was fun. The words "six sigma" were even tossed around. A few handfuls of french fries later, I knew I was home.
I joined ASQ exactly because of the passionate leaders I met that night, who live, work (and play) in a way that embraces what the quality profession itself aspires to become. When I traded coasts and moved to the San Francisco, I was lucky to find that same level of energy upon joining the Silicon Valley Chapter. I am so proud of ASQ and the thousands of quality professionals who help create experiences like mine throughout the globe at every monthly meeting, special seminar or world conference. I'm inspired to think how many more new stories will be written in our next seven decades.
Happy 70th, ASQ. If you're up for some celebratory antics, there's this great little saloon-themed bar in Manhattan...
THE MAKING OF A FACTORY ENTHUSIAST
I've been in the quality engineering field for the majority of my professional career, from building in process controls in consumer goods manufacturing to the wider implementation of quality throughout an entire supply chain.
I fell into quality when a senior engineer left the company but took a chance on me and tapped me as her replacement. For her final weeks, she immersed me in mystical, multi-syllabic words like "statistical process control" and "Gaussian distribution".
I've been hanging out in factories ever since.
WHAT'S QUALITY ENGINEERING?
Quality Engineering is the application of statistical and industrial tools, thought processes and methodology to execute and deliver a quality product or experience to the end user (whew!)
As of today, there are few academic opportunities to major in quality engineering. Most QEng fall into this intersection of industrial and supply chain engineering through their encounter with industry.
If an engineer comes up with the one perfect solution to a problem, the quality engineer ensures the right processes are in place that make that solution scale successfully.
That could mean making one thousand bottles of Tide laundry detergent, or one million Duracell AA batteries, each one as statistically close to identical as physically possible.
Closeness to customer standards, focus on the end user: that's quality.