QUALITY IN THE FIRST PERSON
A Different Perspective
One woman’s experiences as a quality professional in Mexico
by Amalia Yoguez Seoane
My quality journey began in 1996, when I was studying industrial engineering at Mexico City’s Autonomous Metropolitan University. I was attracted to this field because a friend’s father had a small voltmeter assembly factory, and to sell its products, the factory needed to be certified to ISO 9000.
The factory staff members were looking for an industrial engineer to assist them with their quality program, improve their assembly line functionality and, ultimately, achieve ISO 9000 certification. I was fascinated by the idea of dealing with global standardized practices in the industrial arena, which led to my decision to study industrial engineering.
During my last semester at the university, I traveled to Monterrey, in northern Mexico, for a student meeting at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. The meeting brought together industrial engineering students from different universities in Mexico and various speakers from throughout the world who presented information on a wide variety of topics, such as quality and the environment.
Introduction to ASQ
ASQ was one of the organizations at the meeting, and brochures about the society’s activities, membership and certifications were available for students. I was offered a student membership, and I was attracted to the idea of having good quality resources I could use, such as books and QP, at reasonable prices.
At the time, because ASQ did not have a student branch in Mexico City, I decided to join the international chapter. With this membership, my exposure to global practices was only through the mail, and I periodically received newsletters about quality practices in countries such as India.
Because I was a student, I didn’t have the experience necessary to be a certified quality auditor (CQA), so certification had to wait. In the meantime, I reviewed the literature associated with the CQA body of knowledge. In ASQ’s Quality Press books, I found good advice on quality topics such as auditing techniques and evaluating a corrective action.
With time, I gained experience in the quality arena and eventually became a CQA. The certification opened windows of opportunity in my country, making me marketable to companies with global processes.
I started my professional quality journey as a quality supervisor and then became a quality coordinator, eventually working in that role for my company’s entire Latin America region. Working in the quality field allowed me to connect with professionals in different countries.
This experience not only taught me about new cultures, but also about working in a global environment and improving my skills to deal with global practices. It has been my experience that speaking a second language and working in virtual teams are essential skills.
Additionally, an ASQ certification allowed me to get better positions and to earn recognition throughout my organization, particularly with international customers.
In one instance, I remember when a customer from Puerto Rico came to Mexico to audit my organization. He was pleased when he learned people in our organization were ASQ certified. The auditor was also a CQA, and he recognized my capabilities as a quality auditor.
I also learned it’s easier to be accepted at a company when directors see an international credential on a resume. You not only need to have certifications on your résumé, but those certifications also must be recognized globally.
A perfect mentor
As a female quality professional, I had the opportunity to have a great woman as a career mentor. She was my company’s global quality assurance manager for the Americas, and I reported directly to her.
We met in Mexico City when she came to hire a quality assurance coordinator. She made an impact on my career, as she gave me the opportunity to coordinate global practices not only in Mexico, but also throughout Latin America.
We made a great team, even though she was in a different country, and the only way we communicated was by e-mail, online chats and one face-to-face meeting per year. In her, I saw tremendous leadership skills and a drive to be clear about objectives and goals—and the hard work necessary to reach them.
I wholeheartedly agree with a quote from Margaret Thatcher I read on ASQ’s Women in Quality Network: "If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman."
I decided to write this column to share my journey as a quality practitioner in a foreign country, where English is not the official language. I feel compelled to share my experience, as it could help other students explore and enjoy the quality field.
Amalia Yoguez Seoane is a doctoral student studying systems engineering at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico City. She earned a master’s degree in systems engineering from the Universidad del Valle de Mexico in Mexico City. Yoguez is a senior member of ASQ and a member leader of ASQ’s 1403 Mexico City Section. She is a certified quality improvement associate, systems auditor, systems lead auditor and quality auditor.