Member Spotlight – Jonathan Port

Jonathan PortHello all! I’m pleased to write this short article for ASQ 1203 this month. In this country, in the eyes of others who we are is heavily linked to what we do. “What do you do?” is usually the next question asked after “What’s your name?” Well, my name is Jonathan Port and I’m a Quality Engineer at heart. I started that journey because I was able to take Quality electives such as “Total Quality Management” and “Quality Engineering” as a part of my engineering program in college.

After graduation, I joined ASQ because I saw membership as a path to learning. I realized that I wanted Quality to be a part of my career path and ASQ membership is a great way to get plugged into other professionals, trends, conferences, books, and resources, as well as certification.

At that time, I was working at a small company where those in engineering staff wore many hats, including some QE responsibility. After a few years, I wanted to move into a “full-time” Quality Engineer position; I noticed many job postings preferred certification. In the days of electronic resume filtering for key words, my resume never made it through the computer filter, let alone to a decision maker’s inbox. I decided to pursue certification as an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer (CQE). Preparing for the certification exam was extremely beneficial, so much so that I continued to leverage certification as a lifelong learning process. To date, I have added Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE), Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) to the list. Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) may be the next one on the horizon. Additionally, I hold a QMS Provisional Auditing certification from RAB/QSA. I used to baulk at the practice of filtering resumes by keywords, but now I’m guilty of employing this practice myself. I’ve been asked what I would like to see in an engineering candidate with whom I will be closely working. I typically respond, “Find a CQE or CSSGB.” At least then I know that we will share common vocabulary, methods and tools. If the mindset is also present, the rest of the job function can be taught.

Speaking of the “mindset,” it is SO important. Obtaining that mindset is not a matter of knowledge being transferred, but having experiences that create an attitude. Quality is something that happens from the inside out: it is a fruit. Just as fruit is not bore by the twig it is attached to, but by the plant itself, rooted in the soil. Good soil makes good fruit. The twig is a channel that the plant uses to direct the creation. The Quality mindset (beliefs, ethics, philosophy) stem up through methods, best practices and tools to produce quality results. I try to convey this as a key attitude in the Quality 101 and other courses I teach at The QC Group, Inc. In that course, we touch on four continuous parts that Quality has: QC, QA, Philosophy, and Management. The first part is QC (Quality Control, detection, reaction) which started in the Industrial Revolution with scientific management. This is typically what comes to mind in the general public when “quality” is mentioned. Next came the elements of QA (Quality Assurance, prevention), philosophy (Guru’s, “Fads”, etc), and finally the human side (engagement, management, motivation, etc). These four areas of quality have been growing and influencing each other throughout the entire 20th century.

My interest in quality was first piqued via introduction to the human dimension. As a student in Engineering Management, these were key thoughts and ideas on management philosophy that no amount of technical expertise could compensate for in determining a successful Manager. (Note: I was excited to find much of this content is covered in the CMQ/OE BOK and corresponding Handbook.) At the same time my management philosophy was being influenced, I was fascinated with the process/system thinking on the QA side of quality. It has fundamentally changed my actions as an engineer. I believe that Quality provides the framework for efficient, effective work. Most of the tools in the toolbox are aimed at organizing data so it becomes information. What could make an engineer happier! I believe every engineer should be a Quality Engineer first – add the subject matter expertise and knowledge on top of that. Things like Pareto, SPC, Sampling, Flow Charting and FMEA should be core. Design of Experiments should be a required course for all engineering programs!

While I have been writing a lot of about engineering application, Quality goes beyond the manufacturing floor and into the office and all kinds of businesses. Today, the role and scope of quality is expanding to include, organizational excellence, risk reduction and social responsibility. I believe these have always been essential to quality, but are now just receiving recognition and attention. With trending green movements, Quality is good stewardship by conserving our resources: time, money, energy, manpower, and natural resources. I agree with Taguchi who said poor quality has a loss to society.

I am currently the Training Manager at The QC Group, Inc. (formerly QC Inspect) in Burnsville, Minnesota. Along with dimensional inspection, engineering and quality professional staffing, the QC Group also provides training, consulting and auditing services. We hold over 65 public courses in nearly every state, as well as customized on-site training in all areas of Quality. I also own a consulting company, Beacon Quality Services, LLC, which focuses on bringing the “Quality” (best practices, tools, methods, philosophies) that has been helping industry to non-profits, ministries and churches. Doing the “right things, right” becomes very important in those types of organizations where cash can be scarce.

Thanks for being interested in this bio! How Quality is influencing my life is always growing and changing. How my life can influence Quality is also changing and I’m looking forward to “Raising the Voice of Quality” in 2011. Meet up with me at a section meeting and tell me how Quality is influencing your life, or how you’d like it to influence it in the future.

** Jonathan Port is no longer with The QC Group but can contacted at via email at jport@beaconquality.com or by telephone at 507-384-9424.