Looking for Career Path Advice

H

holly21

My title is Quality Analyst, however I design and administer all quality related functions in my company. I am the first person to be successful in this position (person who came before me was asked to leave not long after he was hired.) I’ve been here for two years, have a BSME, and this is really my only experience in quality. I was hired based upon my degree, 12+ years of manufacturing experience, and skills with the requirement that I obtain both the CQT and CQE, both of which I did within 6 months of being hired. I got raises for both of those certifications, but according to what I see in the papers locally, I’m underpaid by about $12,000/year.

My company is a privately-held, family owned business. It is very low tech and there are a lot of key process factors that aren’t even measured. Nothing is automatically controlled – it’s all manual and considered to be an ‘art.’ We are working toward more science, however it is long term and we are going in baby-steps. We have no tension, pressure, or temperature control. I have no opportunities to apply SPC, which I only have book knowledge of. The primary raw material we use is Indonesian and Malaysian plywood, which has a 4 month lead time before we receive it, and it’s very hard to control the quality of what we get. I have implemented a vendor conformance precedent with another of our major raw material suppliers that is located here in the US, and it’s the first time anyone has done it in the company’s 40 year history because our customers select our suppliers on this domestic material.

The executives here also insist that we will never seek to obtain ISO or any other registration, plus there are so many other things that work directly against a real quality program that I could spend pages and pages writing about.

The good thing about this position is that I set up the programs and have everything going the way I want it. I’ve also started to build an organization by having an internally certified QT working on the floor, and an up and coming supervisor who recently got this CQT, however working in quality is not his primary responsibility – he does more project work. I create my own projects based on need and have the freedom and authority to implement my ideas.

My concern is that if I lose my job for any reason, the experience that I’m gaining here will not make me a marketable candidate for another job. I believe that my CQE means nothing if I cannot apply a lot of it due to the environment. Say I end up getting an interview for a job as a CQE in a company that has their act together as far as quality goes. I have my certification and an engineering degree, but I would have nothing to say if asked about my experience in SPC or ISO or other registration.

I also do not have the opportunity to work with more experienced quality professionals because I’m the only one here. I do attend local chapter ASQ meetings, but they are not helpful to me because they are all geared toward ISO (most manufacturing in this area is for the auto industry, which we do not supply.) I believe creating the position I hold was primarily so that they could tell customers that they had a CQE on staff.

I feel as though I am successful in this position. I often question the value my supervisor (VP of Manfuacturing) places on what I do. My floor QT has saved as much as she earns for the company in just 4 months. (I have dollars to support my efforts in this area), yet I’ve had one review, three months after I got here and nothing else. When they did annual raises (everybody at the same time), everyone who reports to my supervisor had meetings, reviews, and were told what their raises were. Mine just showed up on my check, AFTER everyone else’s went into effect, and after I asked my supervisor if I should assume that I wasn’t getting a salary increase since he hadn’t spoken to me about it.

Enough complaining tho – my real question is am I limiting my future potential working in a company like this? If yes, what can I do to make myself marketable to prospective employers who are looking for experience that I can’t get here, especially in an area where almost everyone supplies the automotive market?

Any advice or opinions are greatly appreciated.
 

BradM

Leader
Admin
Hello, Holly!

It kind of sounds like you have already answered your own question.

It sounds like you want to do quality engineering work. However, you feel you won’t ever get the experience at your present position. That means you will have to go somewhere else.

I think you need to brush up your resume and start sending it out. Until you find out how you will really fare in the marketplace, you will be guessing, and running with conjectures.

A small, tiny suggestion: Avoid getting too caught up in the internal minutia. Saying, don’t get too concerned about others raises, promotion, etc. That is not to say, that you cannot speak with your boss about your position, success goals, possible advancement, etc. Have you sit down to talk with them about you?

While I understand that you feel you are undervalued, you will not be sure of that until you go into the marketplace.

I don’t know if there is really anything helpful here. I just want you to do what makes you happy. If you’re happy in your current position, then great. If you think you will be happy if S,A,X,Y, and L occur, then you might want to start looking.
 
E

EtobiLad - 2009

Hey ,
I think you have answered your own concerns and just needed re-enforcing. I think you should make yourself marketable and check other companies that will use your skill and make yourself gain more experience. the money will follow follow your heart..

Good luck.. now is the time.:yes:
 
F

fuzzy

... We have no tension, pressure, or temperature control. I have no opportunities to apply SPC, which I only have book knowledge of.

The executives here also insist that we will never seek to obtain ISO or any other registration, plus there are so many other things that work directly against a real quality program that I could spend pages and pages writing about.

The good thing about this position is that I set up the programs and have everything going the way I want it.


My concern is that if I lose my job for any reason, the experience that I’m gaining here will not make me a marketable candidate for another job. I believe that my CQE means nothing if I cannot apply a lot of it due to the environment.

Enough complaining tho – my real question is am I limiting my future potential working in a company like this? If yes, what can I do to make myself marketable to prospective employers who are looking for experience that I can’t get here, especially in an area where almost everyone supplies the automotive market?

Any advice or opinions are greatly appreciated.

One of my mentors loved to say, "Most limitations are self-imposed."

In many regards you have not done this, so why view ISO and SPC this way? Don't call them by these names but look for opportunities to apply the principles to add value $$$ to your current organization. Do you measure final products? Are they all custom or standard products? Is your raw material of a certain thickness or moisture content? Do you know what you don't know about your process?

I used to work for almost twenty years at a rubber extrusion outfit that supplied to GM. For about 15 years it was called a "black art". Then we started focusing on scrap reduction via process control: line speeds, oven temperature profiles, extruder RPM's and temperature zones, rubber cure curves, extrusion die maintenance, deviation control from controlled process parameters, etc., etc. Guess what? Scrap came down and the black art became much more black and white.

What can you do today for yourself and your organization?:2cents:

Don't mind me; I'm a hypocrite...need to take my own advice...soon!:notme:
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Leader
Super Moderator
I agree with fuzzy/Dave. It sounds like a fairly nice environment, and you aren't on anyone's radar scope in either a positive or negative manner. You have the opportunity to apply the tools to help yourself and the QT, and to also quantify and tell stories of your effectiveness to your peers and managers. Personally, I'd recommend reading Tom Peter's ReImagine book (no, I don't get a royalty).
 
H

holly21

Well, the money isn't so much of a concern to me - my financial life is in order. It's more the way that advances are approached. Another reason this is a sore spot is because my starting salary here was less than I made fresh out of college in 1993. I took the job anyway because due to a variety personal bad luck and tough breaks, I was living on minimum wage jobs, being told I was over qualified for others, and hoping I could avoid a car accident or illness since I didn't have health insurance.

I have sent out my resume here and there. I work in northern Indiana. There's lots of light industry here, and many of the companies supply to the automotive industry. All of these type facilities are looking for experience with SPC and ISO because that is what their customers require, which is why I focus on my lack of experience in these areas - I think it's holding me back. The lack of response to my resumes, even though I have all the education and other skills (but no experience in specifically what they are looking for) is what got me thinking about this to begin with.

We are making advances... reducing scrap, reworking scrap (they never did this before), decreased number of returns from customers for production related issues, etc. We have projects out there to automate some equipment, etc.

Maybe the fact that I'm currently sucessful and work for a company that provides free medical care and other great benefits should be enough. I have a hands-off boss, and he's generally supportive when I need to go up against his peers to get things changed.

I'm ambitious though. I want to be using the things I had to learn to keep my job here. I want to work in a place that is truly supportive of quality, rather than just paying lip service. Maybe fighting that is part of what working in Quality is about?
 

BradM

Leader
Admin
Holly, thanks for the follow-up. Hey, I'm sure that most of the people have not been very far removed from your set of circumstances. So, we know where you're coming from, and can relate a bit.

Reading the posts, there are some compelling reasons to stay, and some compelling reasons to leave. You may eventually get people to come around to some of your ideas; they may not.

I understand your reticence regarding your ISO and SPC experience. But remember how it was when you got out of college? They don't hire you because you have no experience; You can't get experience unless someone hires you! Eventually someone believes in you and gives you a chance.

If you want to do something else, apply for jobs, talk to friends in the industry, and go sell yourself to the company. They may hire you, and teach (send you to a class or something) on the things that they require.
Remember: Job Postings list the ideal candidate for the job. There may never be an ideal candidate.

As far as your job now, I suggest you get a friend who does a lot of hiring to review your resume (and make several revisions). You may be selling yourself short, and your resume may not be working for you. Getting a good (and honest) resume just takes time and effort, but if it assists in getting you in the door, that effort is well worth it.

In the end, all people can really do is offer up portions from their own life experience. In the end, decide what makes you truly happy, and pursue it. Because if you are not happy, nothing else really matters, does it?
 
D

Duke Okes

Here are the thoughts that came to mind as I read your post:

- You can expect pay to be less in a private company than a public company, especially if comparing non-automotive to automotive. Auto industry typically pays around $10k more.

- Your experience in a family-owned business can be one of the best training grounds I can imagine, since the decision-making process is typically considerably different. If you are able to develop your skills at negotiating (e.g., a raise), selling (e.g., other quality technologies that contribute to their top and/or bottom line), and process improvement (successfully guiding the use of those technologies), it would make working in a non-family environment seem like a piece of cake.

- There is no perfect organization out there. Regardless of where you are there are significant opportunities for improvement, but also significant differences in perspectives among members of the organization about the relative value of each. Your role is to make sure that you only apply the ones that are really of high value (e.g., ISO 9000 may have no real value in your market).

- Welcome to life and the philosophy of continual improvement of both organizational and personal life. Take some time, if you haven't already, to sit back and think where you'd like to be (physically, financially, cognitively, spiritually, etc.) in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, ,... then develop and execute a plan to get there. In the U.S. the major problem is that there are so many opportunities that it's often difficult to choose which to pursue. Apply the pareto principle and focus on the higher-value issues for you.
 
F

fuzzy

Maybe the fact that I'm currently sucessful and work for a company that provides free medical care and other great benefits should be enough. I have a hands-off boss, and he's generally supportive when I need to go up against his peers to get things changed.

I'm ambitious though. I want to be using the things I had to learn to keep my job here. I want to work in a place that is truly supportive of quality, rather than just paying lip service. Maybe fighting that is part of what working in Quality is about?

Well you've gotten some excellent advice from other posters. Let me add my spin...

I left that rubber extrusion place after 19 years because I couldn't "get past" working for a plant manager who I felt was a micro-managing, amoral, weasel who constantly let me know that I wasn't doing my job the same as folks he held up as "models" to follow. I knew I would never be promoted to QA manager by him, and after our entire staff of engineers and manager turned over, in my "interview" for the position I told that plant manager I wouldn't be training another QA manager for him. And so I left. And got to become a QA manager. Quite a few times, at different types of companies. And for me, the best company I ever worked at was the one I put nineteen years into: the best culture, the best systems, the least "willful blindness", etc.

But I would do it the same way again for the experiences I have garnered along the way. So...

Most limitations are self-imposed.
Be careful what you wish for...you may get it.
Better to be a big fish in a small pond or a flounder in the Atlantic??

Only you can decide...Good Luck:agree1:
 
Top Bottom