Member Spotlight – Steve Elvester

Steve ElvesterI began my relationship with MNASQ in 1975. My reason for joining MNASQ was pretty straightforward. My boss at that time said I had to join and attend the monthly meetings as a part of my job as a Quality Technician. The company I was working for showed their support of MNASQ by paying for my membership and the meetings I attended. I left that company in 1985 but have remained an MNASQ member ever since.

The reason I am still a member is also simple. MNASQ has been an on-going source for the knowledge which supports my core belief that “there is always a better way to do something and there is always a better way to make an internal or an external customer happy”.

I must admit that as a member I was a “taker” until the year 2000. I attended the monthly meetings, the seminars, the conferences, and became an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor. During those years I focused on advancing my career using the principles and methods I learned from others at ASQ. Using these tools I reached upper management level positions in Engineering, Quality, Sales/Marketing, and Operations but still stayed back in the “shadows”. In 2000, I received a phone call that caused me to reassess my relationship with MNASQ. I was told that the Refresher Course Instructor who was teaching the CQA Refresher Course would no longer be able to teach the course and was asked if I would be interested in stepping into that position. After some thought I decided it was time to give something back and said yes.

I taught one refresher course and enjoyed it so much that I was very disappointed when no one called me to teach it again. I did some research and discovered the reason no one called was that our Education Committee was in desperate need of help. I then very
selfishly joined the Education Committee because I was not going to let their need for support “cheat” me out of a chance to help others get their certifications by taking the refresher course I wanted to instruct. I have continued to instruct this refresher course since then and have also remained a member of the Education Committee.  Recently, I was elected Co-Vice Chair of the Committee.

I have observed many changes in Quality during the years in which I have been an MNASQ member and have been involved in the Quality profession. I have seen Quality cycle back and forth from being a discipline that was highly sought after and rewarded in industry to one where the Quality discipline’s practitioners had to change their job titles and “hide” in other departments to keep from becoming the victims of “financially necessary” work force reductions. I have also witnessed our basic analytical and improvement tools placed in a variety of toolboxes which were subsequently renamed in an effort to market them as new.

I eventually realized that Quality always won out when its practitioners continued to faithfully apply its analytical and improvement tools no matter what they were called and no matter what their job title was. To be more specific, it didn’t matter what they called my job or my process improvement tools as long as I was able to work at improving things.

The good news is that for those who faithfully apply the Quality tools in their careers, their efforts will be rewarded by the discovery of better ways to do their organization’s work and to make their customers happy. I plan to continue to spread our “Quality Knowledge”
with my future contributions as an instructor and as your MNASQ Education and Development Co-Vice Chair.

I also hope that sharing my MNASQ and career experiences will serve as an inspiration to others to find their core Quality beliefs and to stick with them through thick and thin.