Wanda R. Sturm, consultant, Resources Global Professionals
Wanda R. Sturm, an ASQ member since 1996, is a consultant in the global community at Resources Global Professionals in Houston. Resources partners with clients to solve problems, implement initiatives and help drive change through all levels of businesses all over the world. The company has more than 85 offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific and serves 2,400 clients. As a consultant in the global community at Resources, Sturm works with business leaders—as part of their teams—to solve problems, transfer knowledge and drive change.
Prior to her time at Resources, Sturm worked at various corporations in the oil and gas, financial services and technology sectors in quality positions including team consultant, regional manager, business group quality manager, shared services quality director, Master Black Belt and corporate quality manager.
Sturm earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and an MBA that included international marketing and management study from the London School of Economics. She has served as an examiner for the Texas Quality Award, as a lead examiner for the Lincoln Award for Business Excellence and was most recently appointed to the board of examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Sturm recently discussed why she thinks Six Sigma and quality are important and described how quality chose her for her career.
What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project?
The most important aspect of implementing a Six Sigma project is to clearly define the scope. In contrast, the most important aspect of implementing Six Sigma as a management philosophy and as an enterprise program is establishing leadership from the top and weaving it into the fabric of the organization’s culture and in a way that gets work done.
Why do you think Six Sigma is important?
Six Sigma is important because it brings a focus on understanding a business from the outside in. A significant aspect is developing the critical to quality’s focus from the customer’s perspective. This begins to move organizations, regardless of size, toward taking a different view of their products and services and determining what is important.
Why do you think quality is important?
Quality is important in all of life, as well as the quality of life that we each lead. I cannot think of one single product or service I have ever purchased or been given in which I wanted it to be incorrect, unavailable, lacking performance, rude or disrespectful. Quality is important because it directly influences customer and client satisfaction. Quality extends beyond satisfaction to the loyalty of not only customers and clients, but also employees and even stockholders or investors.
What is your favorite benefit of quality?
My favorite benefit of quality is that it integrates finances, customers and employees for success.
Why did you choose to go into the quality field?
This may sound odd, but in a way, the quality field chose me. With the opportunity to engage in a company initiative called employee involvement, I saw a greater picture of the business. As employee involvement progressed, it moved into the realm of continuous improvement, and I moved in parallel. Continuous improvement then opened doors to gain knowledge about quality—including knowledge from W. Edwards Deming, systems thinking from Peter Senge and designing process through design for Six Sigma and define, measure, analyze, design and verify from GE. My quest of knowledge continued as I applied lessons learned and discovered more. One of the greatest aspects about the quality field is that it can be applied across your life, not just at work or in corporations.
What is your best advice to someone new to quality?
The best advice I can give to someone new to quality is twofold: First and foremost, realize you will have some of the highest highs in terms of generating success, such as seeing a customer’s satisfaction, realizing a financial bonus or achieving a specific personal level of accomplishment. But then realize you will have some of the lowest lows. Be prepared for both. Secondly, if you are coaching or consulting others in applying quality approaches or using tools, clearly understand your audience. For example, do not begin with the most complex or even the latest fad if the audience does not have a quality basics foundation.