Shaping Your Life

Setting career goals and achieving them through quality

by Mohamed Nour El-Din

When I graduated from Cairo University’s College of Pharmacy in 2006, I was full of hope and ready to hit the market. I imagined that organizations were waiting for me, ready to welcome me into their ranks.

The surprising reality for me, and many others just like me, was that organizations don’t wait for anyone. Multinational organizations in particular seek out the best of the best to save time and keep training costs low. Rather than investing in shaping new employees’ mindsets, they look for people who are already acquainted with company policies and workplace culture. I had to reconsider my approach to finding my ideal job.

I set an initial target for myself, and I outlined a path to reach that goal. As a first step, I decided to seek employment at a manufacturing facility. I read everything I could find on good manufacturing practices, and that gave me a great advantage when I was interviewed. For my first job, I was hired by a local pharmaceutical company.

My second target was to move to a multinational organization, which was a great challenge. I started working toward a degree in total quality management (TQM), which completely changed my way of thinking.

That is the meaning behind the title of this column. In the process of earning this degree, I learned how to think differently, how to see the big picture and the hidden factors behind any small incident or action, how to analyze, how to plan small projects and how to use quality tools to make real changes.

A few months after I completed the TQM degree, I reached the final round of interviews at three different multinational pharmaceutical companies. I soon joined one of the best organizations in Egypt and the world, thus reaching my second target.

But that was not the end of my journey. I found myself working with many talented people and sought a way to differentiate myself.

From better to best

It was time to define and pursue my third target: I want to be the best. I researched different programs and discovered the ASQ manager of quality and organizational excellence certification, which is recognized around the world. While taking a course to prepare for the certification exam, I learned and practiced a lot of new ideas, acquiring the latest knowledge in quality management.

When I passed the exam, I saw myself just as the preface of the certification material described: a quality director in a multinational company. I already had many of the necessary skills—making key decisions, creating and implementing strategies, and setting targets and measuring progress.

I was promoted in July to quality section head at a multinational organization and I am one of the key people in my area, leading and managing various projects and sessions regarding improvement of the company. The knowledge I gained through the certification process was a major reason I was able to earn this promotion.

Quality changed my life—enabling me to set my own targets and showing me how to achieve them—and helped shape it into exactly what I always wanted it to be.

Mohamed Nour El-Din is a quality section head at GlaxoSmithKline in Egypt. He has a post-graduate diploma in total quality management from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. An ASQ member, El-Din is an ASQ-certified manager of quality and organizational excellence.

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