Quality Progress - October 2014 - 49

QUALITY IN THE FIRST PERSON BY STEPHEN E. JOHNSON Alternative Route Unexpected detour led probation agent to quality career ONE OF MY favorite questions to ask applies to a process, system or depart- people I meet is, "How did you end up do- ment. I had heard of quality control and of metals often being stronger than one ing the job that you have now?" I've found QA, but had limited knowledge of the ex- pure material to describe the value of that some people take a straightforward tent and breadth of what those functions diversity in life. In our professional life, I path. My father, for instance, earned an cover in manufacturing. I was surprised feel that this is most certainly true. Varied engineering degree, was hired at a public to learn the quality field had such wide experiences strengthen the overall skill utility organization and worked there his reach. sets that employees bring to the quality I have used the metaphor of an alloy field. I am an example of that. When I am whole career. Most people, however, have more twists and turns in their profession- Decoding jargon in the present and working on a quality al journey. I am one of those people. Although much of the quality vocabulary challenge, and I bring my total profes- is new to me, most of the concepts are sional experience and education to bear, employer, I said I was a retread human not. The Pareto principle was an unfa- I am a more effective and efficient quality services professional looking for work. miliar concept until I thought about my professional. Despite my newly minted IT networking former job as a juvenile probation officer. degree I had acquired for an anticipated Recidivism data analysis revealed that a quality field should not be afraid that they career change, I was unable to find re- small percentage of juveniles referred to don't have the typical skill set that the lated work. It was bad timing; I received the court committed most of the crimes. organization is looking for. They may be a my degree just as the recession hit. The data also revealed that a majority of better fit than they think. In my informal When I interviewed with my current People contemplating entering the juveniles referred to the court once were straw poll of career pedigrees, I have seem to translate to a manufacturing never referred again. That vital few that noticed common themes among profes- environment, but I was scrambling for a Vilfredo Pareto talked about became clear. sionals. Terms used may be different, My experience and education did not foothold wherever I could find one. The Human factor engineering and human but often general knowledge of topics is interviewer took a chance and hired me error reduction also were terms I was similar. Human interaction skills, known to run a machine that dispenses liquid familiar with in a different context. I as soft skills, translate well to the quality bulk material into small vials that are sold designed forms and paperwork for the world. The most effective quality person- to customers. My interviewer said I was court and my current organization based nel have honed their soft skills. overqualified for the position and antici- on knowledge gained while earning a pated that I would advance quickly. That psychology degree. The more I learn in how I ended up in quality at a biopharma- is exactly what happened. quality terms, the more I connect the dots cology manufacturer, it seems to be more to my previous experiences. of a long, strange trip than a long and After I spent a year and a half running the dispensing machine and learning a Root cause analysis is similar to what When I look back on my career and winding road. Although I may have taken lot about the organization along the way, we used to call peeling the onion. In my the road less traveled, I am happy and a records reviewer position opened up. I previous career, I distinctly remember fortunate to be a part of a QA department applied for the reviewer position and was diagrams almost identical to fishbone with an organization that I believe in. QP promoted. The position was in the opera- diagrams on the chalkboard during tions department, not quality assurance discussions of process analysis and flow. (QA). But the more I learned about QA, Now that I have a base of terminology to the more it made sense to realign my role draw upon, quality takes on a richer and with QA. A year ago, management agreed more complex meaning for me. I see the with my observation, and I've been in QA intent and action behind documents and ever since. processes, and understand how I contrib- At first, I knew little about quality as it ute to quality. STEPHEN E. JOHNSON is a quality assurance specialist in south central Wisconsin. He holds a master's degree in education from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, a bachelor's degree in psychology from Southern Illinois UniversityCarbondale and an associate's degree in computer networking and security from Herzing University in Madison, WI. October 2014 * QP 49

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - October 2014

Up Front
LogOn
Expert Answers
Perspectives
Keeping Current
Mr. Pareto Head
Step It Up
Strength in Numbers
Take Care of Your ‘Ugly Baby‘
Getting It Right the First Time
Career Corner
Statistics Roundtable
Quality in the First Person
Standards Outlook
ASQ's Quality Resource Guide
QP Toolbox
QP Reviews
Back to Basics

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