Member Spotlight – Marilyn Pehl

Marilyn PehlIt looks like this is my turn to be in the Member Spotlight. After twenty-six years of membership in the ASQ, I find it a real honor to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed participating in the activities of our Minnesota Section. Being in ASQ has also allowed me to meet and work with some of the most outstanding people in the quality profession. I feel a personal commitment to our local section and to the national organization for all that I have learned and experienced through out my career in Quality.

First I will tell you a little about my background and then about why I believe in the value of being an ASQ member. I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota and a MBA from the University of St. Thomas. I started my professional career teaching high school chemistry and science classes in Minnesota and then in Pennsylvania. When I moved back to Minnesota, I spent three years as an engineering technician for Honeywell SSEC doing development work in wafer fabrication for military and aerospace applications. In 1977 (Now I’m starting to date myself here.) I accepted a position with Medtronic Inc. as a battery chemist. In 1979 I was talked into helping form a new Polymer Operations department at one of our facilities. I really didn’t know what quality assurance people did and I was quick to tell my new boss this. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was lucky to have accepted a job for one of the best instructors and mentors a person could ever have. My boss was John Kendall, a long time member of ASQ and dedicated quality professional. Hesigned me up as an ASQ member, got me active on the Conference Committee, and encouraged me to take the CQE exam. He even helped arranged a series of classes to train his new quality engineers. Somehow I managed to pass that exam and discovered a real appreciation and excitement for the field of Quality. I later went on to become a Certified Quality Auditor, Certified Quality Manager and a Certified Biomedical Auditor. John was more than a mentor and instructor; he was (and still is) a role model and a friend.

I know that my story is just one of thousands of stories that have taken place or will take place because of ASQ. It’s the people that keep the organization going so that it can continue to develop and excite people to new levels of achievement. It’s the people that support each other, teach each other, and provide opportunities to do more. If you did a little adding or subtracting when reading the above paragraph, you know that I have been a member of ASQ for almost twenty-seven years. In that time I have served seven years on the Quality Conference Committee (two years as the co-chair), two years on the Biomedical Conference Committee, two separate times as Vice-Chair of Program, one year as Secretary, one and a half years as Treasurer, twice as Chair-Elect, twice as the Section Chair, twice as Past-Chair, once as acting Co-Vice-Chair of Education, once as the Vice-Chair of Conferences, three years as a Director and about eight years on the Long Range Planning Committee. Now I know that some of you have already added up the years and came to more than my stated tenure of twenty-six years. Yup, I double dipped a few years. I’ve also taught a number of CQE and CQA refresher classes, a refresher course for the CBA, did a few workshops on Quality System Auditing, and attended dozens of Quality Conferences both locally and nationally. The reason I am telling you all this is that I guard my time very carefully. I have a lot of interests outside of work and ASQ so I try to spend my time where I can get some real enjoyment and/or professional benefit. Don’t think for a minute that I do all this out of the goodness of my heart. I want something back for my time and I have gotten that and more from my association with ASQ. I’ve learned to speak in front of people without throwing up behind the curtains. I’ve learned project and time management because I had to in order to survive. I’ve learned a lot of statistics, tons of special skills, and leadership. Because of my work with ASQ, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and conversing with some very special people like Dr. Joseph Juran, Jim Buckman, one of the founders of the Minnesota Quality Award, former St. Paul mayor George Latimer, Dr. Nagerian from the U of M, and I even got Benchwarmer Bob’s autograph. Sorry about the name dropping, but it is a perk of recruiting speakers or working on committees. There have been times when we have laughed until we cried; found comfort with friends over the untimely loss of a friend, and just plain enjoyed the mental stimulation of being with people who share my interests.

By the time you read this article, I will be retired and enjoying the fruits of thirty-eight years of employment. While I don’t plan on working an eight to five day, I do plan to maintain my involvement with the Minnesota Section. There’s more that I want to do and so much more that I will receive from staying active and from being around all my friends in the Minnesota Section. It’s been fun and so well worth the time.