Quality in the First Person

The Road to Quality

by Denise Webster

In my earlier days of football games, keg parties, sleeping through classes and a seemingly endless pursuit of something that interested me, I stumbled, tripped over and basically fell into the food science program at my university.

As a former chemistry major I finally had found a degree that encompassed everything I was looking for. Never would I have imagined what this program had to offer me or that I would end up pursing a career in quality. It has led to fulfillment in my professional and personal life that has gone beyond my expectations.

Quality is not only a career; it is a way of life. It just happens—you don’t expect it to creep up on you, until one day you realize not only do you ensure customers get the best product, but you carry the same sense of commitment in your everyday life. One definition states, “Quality is the ongoing process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating and fulfilling stated and implied needs.”1 Such a multifunctional definition can be applied to practically anything and ensure quality of life is what you do every day.

This commitment has helped me complete my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science, and I currently work for one of the top food companies in the world as a quality manager. When I buy a car, search for cleaning services or go to a restaurant, I have my quality hat on and am always looking for ways to improve something.

Through my first product hold, first American Insti-tute of Baking audit and first root cause analysis on a consumer complaint, the long road to find quality be-gan, and there was no turning back. Today I am proud to call myself a quality manager, and now when I go to a party, I make sure the keg is properly tapped!

DENISE WEBSTER is a corporate quality manager for Kashi Co., a unit of Kellogg Co. She has a master’s degree in food science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is a member of ASQ.


  1. “Quality: How Do You Define It?” Quality Digest website, www.qualitydigest.com/html/qualitydef.html.

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