Member Spotlight – Karen Maskell

Karen Maskell

Karen MaskellI was 18 years old, standing nose to nose with a drill sergeant, when he barked at me: “Why did you join the Army, Soldier!?”

My mind flooded with a myriad of answers. Leadership opportunities… Travel and see the world… The Army College Fund… So, what did I say?

“It seemed like the thing to do, Sergeant!”

Looking back, I realize I was hooked by the promise to “Be All You Can Be.” Excellence, rather than average, was my measure. An idealistic visionary, I have dedicated my life’s work to excellence – to helping individuals, teams and organizations achieve higher levels of productivity and fulfillment.

I was trained as a cardiac technician in the Army, yet found myself drawn to the business of running a clinic. I established policies, implemented and improved procedures and created training programs focused on improving productivity and increasing customer satisfaction. Taking courses at the local community college, I was inspired to translate theory into practical application and energized when contributing my experiences in class discussions. Little did I know this was the spark of a life-long passion.

After I was honorably discharged from the Army, I returned home (Fort Worth, Texas) to take advantage of my Army college fund. Along the way, I also enlisted in the Naval Reserves as a Corpsman. Shortly after graduating with a business degree in Marketing from the University of Texas at Arlington, life presented a new adventure: Operation Desert Storm. I was called into service and put to work in supply chain management at a Naval hospital outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Again with the productivity improvements, I just couldn’t help myself!

After the war ended and I was discharged, I became drawn to the emerging field of software quality. I have a pioneering spirit and the untamed frontier of software quality intrigued me. I soon found a position where I would participate in creating a new quality assurance department.

It was there that one of my colleagues introduced me to the American Society for Quality. At my first meeting, I was stunned. This was exactly what I had been doing throughout my career! Business Excellence. Quality. Continuous Improvement. These the foundation of my craft. I was home.

ASQ was a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom waiting to be explored. I immersed myself. I was fortunate that there was a real need for marketing expertise. After volunteering for the role of Newsletter Editor, I quickly assumed responsibility for all Marketing and Communications activities, including the creation and development of a section website. The strategic planning process was exhilarating. Local and national conferences were a mainstay of our plan. Under my leadership, the section realized record profitability.

My professional involvement in ASQ allowed me to hone my leadership ability. Equally important was keeping current on new theories, emerging technologies and trends around the world. The most exhilarating aspect of my work with ASQ, though, was working with like-minded people.

As the years passed and my career took me from Fort Worth to Minneapolis, I continued to challenge myself. A few years ago, I fulfilled a long-time goal of obtaining my MBA. Today, as an independent Management Consultant, I solve challenging business problems and design performance improvement solutions.

This year I joined the Section Program Committee. I have long appreciated the exposure to tools, techniques, wisdom, and inspiration that the ASQ dinner meeting has provided. I’m honored to be serving as Co-Vice Chair of Programs for 2009 – 2010. I’m especially looking forward to working with my long-time friend and colleague, Co-Vice Chair, Patrick Wegerson, and the Program Committee to seek out local speakers who help advance the careers of our Section members.

You see, I’m still working toward that vision of many years ago to “Be All You Can Be.”

If you’re looking for ways to expand your network, hone your leadership skills and make a contribution, we have positions open on the Program Committee. (We’re always looking for a few good men & women!) Choose from Program Management, Venue Coordination, Marketing & Promotion, as well as Venue Set-& Up Registration. We’d love to hear from you, too, if you have ideas for speakers and venues. You can contact me at or Pat at