Like most quality professionals, I did not start out looking at it as a profession. I was trained as an industrial engineer. I worked at the industrial engineering department in a major company and the product quality department and industrial engineering department were under the same vice president. Looking at the relative salaries between the two groups, this vice president was surprised at how much more the industrial engineers were paid than the critical-to-the-company product quality employees.

As one of the youngest industrial engineers, I was asked if I would do a trial stint in the product quality department. As I’ve always been willing to try new things I agreed. The product quality employees were the only people in the firm who had veto power over new product developments. In this environment, I coined the phrase “quality people are the devils amidst the angels.”

My First ASQ Certification

I moved into an operational quality department at a corporate level. Our manager asked me to “learn some statistics.” Lois, one of the others in this department, had ASQ CQA certification. She suggested that I look at the ASQ CQE certification.

I took a local CQE preparation course. After I passed, our manager made an announcement in one of our staff meetings that we now had two people who had passed the CQE exam. He felt this was a big deal because a sister department, procurement quality, had been requiring their engineers (who primarily operated as auditors) to try for the CQE exam. Because they were not technically trained, that group repeatedly took and failed the CQE exam. Our manager recognized the difficulty of the CQE exam. One of the older members of our department who had taken the CQE and passed it many years before asked me, “So what good do you think that will do you?” I replied, “I think it will make it a little bit harder for people to snow me now.” He nodded and said, “I'll buy that.”

Section Volunteering

Once involved in ASQ with a certification I became involved with our local section, Kansas City 1301. Over several years I advanced there and eventually became the section chair. When the world conference for quality improvement came to Kansas City in 2003 I’d moved from section chair to local site committee chair. This conference exposed me to the wider society.

Division Volunteering

I became involved with the quality management division two times. The first time they asked me to volunteer with them, but the tasks I was given were not a good fit for me. I withdrew from the QMD for a couple of years. Later the QMD chair was seeking to develop an education committee. This was to be like a program chair at a section. Webinars were a new thing and so we planned a series of webinars for QMD members. We were successful and created a series of procedures that we have shared with other divisions.

Teaching For ASQ

In 2007 I retired from the firm I worked at for 25 years. Having the two bad habits of eating regularly and sleeping indoors, I found that I needed a source of income. I’m a lifelong learner but I had never taught before. I decided to give it a try. Initially I had some friends and mentors who assisted me in developing my business. I had no clients, and we were in the depths of a recession. ASQ asked me to teach a couple of classes and apparently the feedback from participants was good because they continued to ask me to teach. With the advent of ASQ Connex my business partnered with ASQ and I began writing course proposals myself.