The Quality Magazine Professional of the Year Award was started several years ago to recognize an individual who, during the course of his or her career, has made outstanding contributions to the quality profession. Applicants for the award are judged on leadership, achievements, application, service and awards.

The philosophy of Peter Sanderson, the 2008 Quality Professional of the Year, is “You don’t get things in advance. You have to prove yourself first.” For the entire article by Assistant Editor Steve Wichelecki, turn to page 52.

For Sanderson, president of Total Quality Management Systems Inc. (Cornwall, Ontario) and creator of Continuous Improvement Software, following his mantra has found him holding various titles in quality. From technician to technologist, from quality manager to consultant, Sanderson’s attitude and work ethic have enabled him to prove himself time and again.

One example of how Sanderson proved himself was when he developed a system to effectively build quality management systems for the MIL-I standards, NCA 3800 and ISO 9001, which had just been released and were gaining popularity in Quebec. With this system in hand, Sanderson started his own company, Total Quality Management Systems Inc., and set out looking for business. Sanderson soon realized that he wasn’t getting hired because he lacked references.

To get his foot in the door, Sanderson again proved himself by doing jobs for free, or nearly free, in exchange for a reference. Within six months, he accumulated enough references, and his business took off.

Not stopping there, Sanderson then developed Continuous Improvement Software, enterprise-wide, cross-platform software that automates all aspects of an organization’s process and quality management systems.

Sanderson’s mantra holds true in many aspects in each of our lives. You have to prove yourself in a job interview to land the job. Then you have to prove yourself again and again to get the promotion. If you stop proving yourself, you may find yourself out the door.

The same is true if you’re courting a prospective client or maintaining business relationships with current clients. First, you have to prove that your company can handle the job, and then you must prove that you can continue to improve as tolerances get tighter and technologies change.

Over the years, a common driving force in the lives of the Quality Professional of the Year has been the strong desire to continue to improve. Many of us are guilty of “just getting the job done” without the drive to find ways to improve. Let’s take our queue from the Professionals of the Year and look for ways to continually prove ourselves and continually improve our businesses. As you take the journey down the quality path, share your thoughts, struggles and successes with me at [email protected].