Written by Lauri Flaquer from a personal interview with Meena Chettiar.
It was a mind-boggling experience when in January the announcement came down that my company would move Production and Quality to another city in 2 to 3 years. It still hadn’t really sunken in when I arrived at my MN ASQ Education Committee meeting several days later. I still remember the look on my fellow committee members’ faces when I told them the news. Instead of focusing on uncertainty and sadness, I was surprised at the level of support that was immediately present.
I had been involved with the committee for about a year by that time and it had been a terrific experience. I enjoyed being surrounded by professionals with different areas of expertise. Through my involvement, I have worked with engineers, educators, statisticians and marketing professionals. These people all share my commitment to spreading the knowledge of quality but think about it from a variety of angles. I have been able to expand my thinking and meet challenges with the new tools gleaned from these relationships.
The evening of our Education Committee meeting we were discussing ways to increase the number of volunteers. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was still in a bit of a somber mood but wanted to contribute to my fellow members anyway. I said to the marketing person that I would like to help out but since the company was downsizing the chances of that would be slim. I was amazed at how quickly my mind was turned around when these people were asked if they would have an easier time finding their next job with a certificate. I left that meeting wondering how I could turn this trauma into triumph at CIMA.
During the management meeting at work the very next day, I introduced the concept of helping our people get certified. To my surprise and pleasure, I was given the green light to make it happen. I started out by finding an article I had recently read that described increased salaries with ASQ Certifications. I emailed it around with the information about the classes. I was shocked when 25 people registered, of those, 23 became new members of ASQ and I am proud to say that 19 people passed the exams (CQA, CQE and CQIA) first time around.
I have had the opportunity to teach classes in CQIA and CQM as well as volunteering for the exam preparation committee in Milwaukee in February, 2008. This experience allowed me to meet quality professionals from all over the country.
This year the Education Committee has had a new problem – we’ve had more people sign up for exam prep classes than we’ve had available seats. For the first time in a long time we’ve been able to hold classes in the Northern and Southern part of the Metro and manage a waiting list.
Through my involvement with the committee I have had many new and exciting opportunities. I was able to take workshops, seminars and courses that I would not have even thought of attending At one of these classes, I met a woman from a large company headquartered here that encouraged me to apply for a position in food safety. She said they were looking for quality people with my type of experience. She gave me contact information; I followed up and discovered opportunities I would not have known existed in the Twin Cities.
I can’t recommend MN ASQ volunteering highly enough. Not only do I enjoy every minute on the committee, I now have an existing network of highly trained professionals that are only a phone call or an email away. Apart from support, they help me understand concepts from their particular prospective and keep my knowledge current while learning new things. People you meet lead you to paths that you wouldn’t have dreamt of traveling and that’s a good thing!