I spend some of my time helping people develop their career in quality. Often, they want certification as a Certified Quality Engineer or Certified Six Sigma Black or Green Belt. In all cases, they’re trying to better their current status or improve their chances at future employment. Often, they ask me the same question, “How did you develop such a great and rewarding career in quality?”
The answer is simple. I got the right education, found a great mentor and had a work environment that let me practice what I learned.
Have you ever watched the movie – Karate Kid? It’s about a kid that’s bullied who later meets up with a Karate Master that agrees to teach him the art of Karate. In the end, the kid goes from knowing nothing, to winning a tournament, gaining the respect of his peers and getting the girl. While this is a Hollywood movie – it does illustrate the fact that a great mentor can make a big difference.
Mentors bring three things to the table; knowledge, experience and passion. Finding a mentor with deep subject matter knowledge, job experience and a passion to share is a fabulous way to build your career.
In my case, I got the right education at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I attended the Center for Quality and Applied Statistics. My mentor was Thomas B. Barker. I met Tom during my time at RIT. Tom was not only a professor he was a seasoned industrial statistician with Xerox. He has more than 25 years of experience and several patents. He also established himself as an authority in applied statistical experimental design.
During my graduate studies at RIT I was working full-time. My employer endorsed my education and let me practice what I learned. The result was an enjoyable and prosperous career that continues today. Having the right education, right work environment and right mentor is a receipt that leads to a rewarding career.
If you have a job in quality and want a career in quality then find your passion, learn more about it, seek a mentor and find the right employer.
Who knows – you may find yourself running your own business and being a mentor to others.