Govindarajan (Govind) Ramu
Govindarajan (Govind) Ramu is senior director, global quality management systems, at SunPower Corporation, a worldwide leader in solar technology headquartered in San Jose, California.
Having responsibility for SunPower's Prevention-Simplification-Customer Satisfaction (PSC) initiative and global quality management systems, Ramu has come to think of the importance of quality in terms of an analogy: "Quality is to product as grammar is to language," he says. The PSC initiative encompasses design excellence and preventive systems, process simplification and standardization.
Prior to this role, Ramu was senior quality manager and a Six Sigma Master Black Belt for JDS Uniphase Corporation, a worldwide leader in optical technology headquartered in Milipitas, California. As part of his duties at JDS Uniphase, Ramu supported DFx (Design for eXcellence) efforts and integration of a lean Six Sigma approach with various new product introductions. The importance of Six Sigma, he says, is that it enables more systematic and disciplined handling of business processes. As a result, process performance improvement and predictability increase.
Although some organizations may begin Six Sigma with the necessary disciplined approach already in place, others may need time to "put the house in order," Ramu says. In these cases, he cautions, Six Sigma leaders need to wait for management and the employee population to become culturally tuned to the Six Sigma philosophy:
If a Six Sigma program is not immediately paying back, it should not be abruptly canceled. Senior management must evaluate the reason for delay in payback and realize that larger cultural changes may be the first benefits of Six Sigma.
On the project level, Ramu recommends taking adequate time to lay the groundwork during the define phase. Specifically, he emphasizes that for a project to be successful, the team must define the problem statement and project parameters thoroughly, as well as obtain full-hearted buy-in for the project from senior management.
The skill set required of a Six Sigma Black Belt is thus much broader than the methodology itself. Beyond the technical ability to perform advanced statistical applications, the Black Belt must have project management, risk management and basic accounting skills. Above all, says Ramu, "The Black Belt must be an effective change agent."
In his past roles, Ramu worked as an engineer, quality manager and operations manager, performing quality functions in different manufacturing organizations in India, Malaysia, Thailand and Canada. Since 1985, his career has focused solely on quality, with specialization in engineering metrology and calibration during the early years.
Ramu sees quality as a profession with purpose. To the quality beginner, he offers two pieces of essential advice:
- Always take the time to listen patiently to your customers, whether internal or external.
- Do not shy away from any possibility of a learning opportunity. Learning is a continual process.
A licensed professional engineer in the province of Ontario, Canada, Ramu has a mechanical engineering degree from Bangalore University, India, and a certificate in elements of statistical quality control and operations research from the Indian Statistical Institute, Chennai.
A member since 1998 and an ASQ Fellow, Ramu holds six ASQ certifications: quality manager, quality engineer, Six Sigma Black Belt, quality auditor, software quality engineer and reliability engineer. He is a certified lead assessor for ISO 9001, the chair of subcommittee 1 for the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to Technical Committee (TC) 176 on quality management, a member of the ASC Z1 Subcommittee (Z1-Q), a member of the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 69 (TAG 69) on statistics, and an expert on IEC TC 82 Working Group (WG) 2—Solar photovoltaic energy systems—Modules.
Currently a member of the Silicon Valley Section, Ramu has served as treasurer and Chair for the ASQ Ottawa Valley Section, Canada, for which he also taught certification refresher courses. He has volunteered with ASQ’s Quality Press and Certification Offerings. As a core team member of ASQ India, he has also been supporting ASQ members’ networking efforts in India. Ramu has been a regular technical reviewer and session moderator for the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement since 2012. Additionally, Ramu is a 2006, 2011, and 2012 Examiner for the California Awards for Performance Excellence (CAPE) and 2010 Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Ramu has coauthored ASQ’s Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook, now in its second edition, for which he received the ASQ Golden Quill Award in 2008 and 2015 and the ASQ Crosby Medal in 2017. He has authored ASQ's Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt Handbook. He manages the LinkedIn Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook Users group, Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt Handbook Users group, and ASQ India (Members Only) group and responds to member questions and suggestions. He is also one of the major contributing authors for The Lean Certification Handbook.
His publications include the following reports and articles:
- "Expert Answers: Continuous Sampling Plan (CSP)," Quality Progress, April 2017
- "Digging Deeper Into ISO 9001:2015: Linking Opportunities and Joy at Work," Journal for Quality and Participation, January 2017
- "Ready, Set, Transition," Quality Progress, December 2016
- "External Demands," Quality Progress, April 2016
- "Efficient Measurement Studies," Quality Progress, March 2016
- "What's the Difference?" Quality Progress, February 2016
- "All Hands on Deck: A Template for Communicating and Explaining the Transition to ISO 9001:2015," Standards Connection, December 2015
- "Selecting Consultants, Registrars," Quality Progress, September 2015
- "Updated Proposal for a Guide for Quality Management Systems for PV Manufacturing: Supplemental Requirements to ISO 9001-2008," National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Report, March 2015
- "Clarifying ISO Notes," Quality Progress, December 2014
- "Evaluating Repeatability," Quality Progress, November 2014
- "Quality Management System Requirements for PV Module Manufacturing" (editor, with author Yoshihito Eguchi), published in ASQ Energy and Environmental Division Newsletter, October 2014 (Division members only)
- "Pay It Forward," Quality Progress, May 2014
- "Testing Traceability," Quality Progress, May 2014
- "Selecting and Developing KPIs," Quality Progress, January 2014
- "What's So Special?" Quality Progress, October 2013
- "Correction vs. Corrective Action," Quality Progress, August 2013
- "Doing the Right Thing," Quality Progress, June 2013
- "Information Collection," Quality Progress, March 2013
- "Keeping Score," Quality Progress, December 2012
- "Match Game," Quality Progress, October 2012
- "Reigniting Quality," Quality Progress, July 2012
- "(E)Quality for All: You, Your Job, and ISO 9001," ASQ Standards Central website, July 2012
- "Matrix Data Analysis," in Beyond the Basics, Quality Progress, April 2012
Related Webcast, Seven New Quality Tools: The Matrix Data Analysis Webcast
- "Prioritization Matrix," in Beyond the Basics, Quality Progress, April 2012
Related Webcast, Seven New Quality Tools: The Prioritization Matrix Webcast
- Error Elimination, Quality Progress, February 2012
- Checking In, Quality Progress, October 2011
- SOP It Up, Quality Progress, August 2011
- Flow With It, Quality Progress, June 2011
- Expiration Date, Quality Progress, January 2011
- Random Resolution, Quality Progress, August 2010
- Critical Decisions, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, May 2010
- Test Run: Improve Your Chances of Passing an ASQ Certification Exam, Quality Progress, January 2010
- FMEA Minus the Pain, Quality Progress, March 2009
- In the Know, Quality Progress, August 2008
- Metrics that Trigger Actionable Discussions: Prioritize Process Improvements Using Gauge R&R and SPC Capability, Six Sigma Forum website, December 2007
- Six Sigma Project Assignment: Know Your Black Belts, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, February 2007
The presentations he has delivered at conferences and other events include:
- ISO 9001:2015 – An Overview
- Quality in Outsourcing 2.0 (PDF)
- Overview of the Proposed PV Quality Management System
- ISO 9001:2015 Changes, Requirements and Implementation
- ISO 9001:2008 Transition
- ISO 9001:2008 Change Analysis
- Prioritizing Process Improvements
- Quality in Outsourcing
Also see his Quality for Life video, "Zero Defect Mentality."
"After family and work, quality-related volunteering for ASQ takes the third important slot in my life," says Ramu. When time permits, he also enjoys watching Myth Busters and Jeopardy on television.