Some people might be nervous about completely switching careers, but not Jared Curtis.
A few weeks after his initial contact with PPI Quality & Engineering, he started in his new role. The company took a chance on him, he said, but it has worked out. Today he is a project coordinator for the Houston company.
It wasn’t a nerve-racking decision, he says. He wanted a change and he got one, soaking up new information like a sponge. Customers responded and sent glowing emails about his work.
It was only a year into the new career that he was a little unnerved. The pandemic arrived. Oil was trading at negative $50 a barrel and he started to worry: “Did I make the right decision?”
But eventually things stabilized and he felt secure. Finding the right people to help him along the way was crucial, he says. One of his colleagues and mentors was Tash Baksh, PPI’s Manager Quality, Health, Safety, Security, Environment, & Operational Excellence.
In his letter of recommendation, Baksh wrote, “With Jared’s very short tenure in the quality industry, he has made a difference at our company, exemplified excellence, and has positively impacted quality on our operational team. His skills, great attitude, and willingness to help others both internally and externally makes him our Rookie of the Year nominee.”
For his dedication to quality, strong communication skills, and interest in always learning, Jared Curtis is our 2023 Quality Rookie of the Year.
A Past Life
Previous Curtis worked in the medical field. He was part of a company that managed prescription benefits for Medicare Part D. After twenty years, he felt it was time to move on and find a fresh challenge. After talking with someone at PPI, he thought the field sounded promising. “Making the transition was a bet on myself,” Curtis says. “I’d rather bet on myself than anyone else.”
For some, this might entail some agonizing decision making, but Curtis believes in being decisive.
“If you’re going to do something, just do it,” Curtis says. “The longer you think about it, the more apt you are not to take action.”
While it was in an entirely different industry, his previous career helped hone his skillset, including his excellent communication skills, “which was directly transferable to the current job he’s doing,” Baksh says. “At the end of the day, unless you’re doing scientific research, it’s really about communication.”
PPI Quality & Engineering has awarded him with multiple achievement awards in his brief tenure with the organization. He has been awarded with PPI’s “Gold Star” award, a peer-to-peer award that highlights accomplishments of staff who go above and beyond in their typical responsibilities. In addition, he has been awarded the “GEM” award, an award given to employees who make an extra effort that makes clients notice and enhances the PPI Quality & Engineering reputation.
A Job Well Done
Attack Your Fears And Improve Your Skills
Jared Curtis of PPI Quality & Engineering, our 2023 Quality Rookie of the Year, describes how he developed strong communication skills, offers advice for those who are new to quality, and suggests ways manufacturers can recruit new quality professionals.
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His work with PPI Quality & Engineering involves life and death, as parts are inspected for use in the oil and gas industry. If a part is going on a rig, it needs to be correct. “Safety first, that’s what we’re here for,” Curtis says.
In the three years since he’s been with PPI Quality & Engineering, there are numerous examples of his excellent work, including company awards, colleague references, and recognition from customers.
Scott Martin, a QA/QC coordinator at Kosmos Energy, has been one of his biggest mentors, Curtis says. Martin oversees third-party inspections for Kosmos, among other things, so he was notified when Curtis became a project coordinator. He had some concerns, Curtis says, because there had been multiple project coordinators during his tenure, and because Curtis had no experience in the industry. But once they met face to face, things shifted.
“At that point, I think he kind of understood the potential that I had, I think he made a commitment at that point to take on a mentorship role,” Curtis says. “From that point on, we had a mentor-mentee relationship.”
Curtis says he has learned so much from Martin, and he appreciates how he has helped his career. “The main thing, we’ve had countless conversations about how the equipment works once it’s on a rig. He really takes the time and patience to break the functionalities of the tools down to me, and he doesn’t have to do that.”
Martin says that Curtis has been great to work with as well. “His ability to absorb what’s going on and understand it very quickly is his best asset,” Martin says. “I don’t think most people could do what’s he’s been able to do in such a short time.”
Good To Work With
Baksh has known Curtis since he started with the company. His first impression was: “He has a great attitude, very open to learning, very positive.”
“The most impressive quality he has is he’s very open to feedback,” Baksh says, “incorporating everyone else’s view, and is open to understanding.”
Recently, Baksh was impressed by how Curtis handled a new project with customers in Japan, a 15-hour time difference. He had to manage the pre-inspection meetings and set up a call with multiple parties. These meetings typically last four to five hours. Curtis was able to coordinate that with customers, inspectors and suppliers. They started at 7 p.m. and finished around midnight.
In addition, his efforts at learning are noteworthy.
“One of the things I noticed with him, when he did training, he would practice what he learned. I would see him applying it. Which of course is the intent of training but that’s not typically how the majority of people do it,” Baksh says.
Giving and receiving feedback is another strong area for Curtis. Baksh says he keeps improving when taking feedback and using it, a rare skill. “The first reaction of most people is to get defensive,” Baksh says.
“He’s very collaborative and open and has great people skills,” Baksh says, adding that his other skills include calf roping, which he used to do with his dad.
Balancing his time is another good skill, Baksh says. He is impressed by how Curtis makes time for exercise and going to the gym, not any easy feat when you might work until 7 p.m.
How To Find The Next Quality Professional
If your organization is looking for new people—an ongoing challenge for many—Curtis offers this advice. He says if someone doesn’t necessarily have the experience but they are interested in learning and being trained, lateral skills from another industry may often transfer. It’s important to then have the right internal training in place.
And for those who are interested in joining the quality field, he says it is important to better yourself and expand on your skills beyond what the company might offer.
Curtis is in the process of becoming an ISO 9001:2015 certified auditor as well as working on his NDT Level I and Level II. He’s also a member of ASQ and the International Quality Federation.
Time For A Change
When Curtis wasn’t feeling challenged at his previous job, he says, “This industry was one of the first that I’d thought about.”
Bryan Gordy met Curtis when they were in elementary school but they later lost touch. Gordy says they had several months of conversations about the career, and when an opening came up that fit his skills, Curtis applied.
“For somebody who has had to learn the industry on the fly, he’s exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Gordy says. “I’m excited for him; he’s taken this quality stance by the horns and ran with it. He just continues to impress. I’m very proud of what he’s done, and this recognition is well-deserved.”
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