Three Key Takeaways from the Women in Quality Symposium

More than 500 quality professionals joined ASQ for the first annual Women in Quality Symposium, December 9! Participants spent the day collaborating with expert panelists, connecting with quality professionals in networking salons and learning how to strengthen their quality roles through mentorship, career planning and overcoming obstacles to growth. Here are three meaningful takeaways from the Symposium that support an Ascent to Meaningful Leadership.

Leaders from ASQ and ASQE introduced the Symposium by sharing what it means for them to be a woman in quality.

1) Build (and actually use) a meaningful network

Networking can often seem like a snappy buzzword instead of a real tactic for career growth. But, if done correctly, it can be a truly beneficial tool. Finding and connecting with people who share your interests and values can create lasting relationships. In our first panel, “From Surviving to Thriving: Aligning Purpose, Passion, and Service,” Jd Marhevko, Jami Kovach, Aimee Siegler, and Allison Grealis discussed the value of mentorship between women. This goes beyond just sending a LinkedIn request, to actively sponsoring project opportunities, reviewing resumes and providing a sounding board. Women account for nearly half of the U.S. labor force and hold approximately 50%  of all management and professional level jobs but hold significantly fewer leadership positions. Actively mentoring and sponsoring other women in quality helps usher in the next generation of quality leaders and create a support network across industries. In breakout networking salons and across panels, the impact of COVID-19 was covered, and how now, more than ever, having a supportive community is crucial for both your personal and professional development.

WIQS blog images network.png

2) Intentional leadership encourages diversity

Throughout the Symposium, one thing was clear: Diversity makes the quality field better. Good leadership recognizes and encourages diversity. In the panel, “Identifying Innate Leadership Attributes in Women,” Jd Marhevko, Liz Keim, Mary Reich Cooper, and Alexis Skoufalos shared the experiences that shaped their leadership styles and discussed how they honed that style throughout their careers. These successful leaders also divulged how they use their leadership roles to help empower others and advocate for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the quality field. When women are encouraged to cultivate an authentic sense of self, they can bring a more diverse and valuable perspective to their organization, field, and the quality profession.

WIQS blog images diversity.png

3) Develop Your Personal Toolbox

Our third panel, “Addressing Obstacles in Career Growth,” encouraged participants to identify and address the challenges they face as women in the quality field. Panelists Kathryn Leonhardt, Cheryl Thompson, Peggy Milz, and moderator Luciana Paulise led the discussion by highlighting specific obstacles they’ve faced in their careers. From implicit gender bias, being interrupted, or battling assumptions, women often face challenges their male counterparts do not. Developing leadership and communication tactics can help you address and work through those obstacles.

Keynote speaker Allison Levine imparted thrilling details of her journey as the first American Women’s Everest Expedition Team Captain, where she led “Team No Boundaries” through a treacherous two-month journey to summit Mount Everest. With such high stakes, Levine relied upon leadership tools to guide her team. While most of us are not scaling mountains, we can use and adapt Levine’s tools like breaking goals down into manageable modules and understanding that “backing up is not the same as backing down.”

WIQS blog images toolbox.png

The 2020 Women in Quality Symposium provided quality professionals the opportunity to dive into the challenges, possibilities, and joys of being and working with women in the quality field. This special event was a success because of the energetic engagement, valuable insights shared, and the meaningful connections made! Over 320 participants met, shared ideas, and networked across our 20 breakout salons, and they can keep the conversation going on myASQ.org

ASQ has an array of events planned for 2021, including our next virtual conference: the 2021 Lean and Six Sigma Conference (LSSC)! Join us March 1-4 for our 20th anniversary of the event and discover New Opportunities for a New Decade. Registration opens soon, and you can review the program now!

43657-lssc-myasq-banner-1440x425.png

The Inaugural WCQI Virtual

WCQI Virtual

The global response to COVID-19 has changed how people everywhere work, connect, and learn. One thing that hasn’t changed: ASQ’s commitment to educating and inspiring members. While ASQ made the necessary decision to cancel the 2020 in-person World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI), we knew there was more we could do. Driven by the challenge to provide members with the unique value that WCQI always provides, on May 6, 2020 ASQ hosted the inaugural WCQI Virtual. Thousands of ASQ members joined this completely digital event featuring world-renowned keynote speakers, dozens of on-demand recordings, and online networking forums.

Keynote Speakers
Keynote Speaker James Clear
Keynote Speaker James Clear

Personal development speaker and bestselling author of Atomic Habits James Clear began the event with his presentation “Atomic Habits: How to Get 1% Better Every Day.” After suffering from a traumatic brain injury in his youth, Clear was forced to rebuild his life through small moments and achievements. This experience changed his life, and he realized that while luck is not within your control, habits are. Through examples from literature, biology, and economics, Clear outlined the value of incremental improvements. Achieving true excellence is not about radical change, but rather accruing small improvements over time. Clear guided members through his four stages of building successful habits and provided tactical tips to help quality professionals implement new habits in their personal and professional lives.

Keynote Speaker Shabnam Mogharabi
Shabnam Mogharabi

The second keynote speaker was Shabnam Mogharabi. Cofounder of media company SoulPancake, Mogharabi brought her experience in digital content, media, and building startups to her keynote presentation “The Power of Positive Psychology.” Mogharabi presented research from Dr. Martin Seligman on the changes to the brain’s chemical infrastructure with positive perspectives. In today’s uncertain landscape, many people are looking at corporations to lead with a sense of purpose. If professionals can learn their “why,” they can help guide social responsibility within their organization. By practicing gratitude, vulnerability, and connection, people are able to tap into positive psychology and create more authentic personal and professional lives.

myASQ Virtual Discussions

WCQI has always provided a collaborative space for quality professionals to network with people across industries, interests, and even countries. For WCQI Virtual, we knew that creating opportunities for collaboration was more important than ever. With the help of ASQ’s Technical Program Committee and World Conference Reviewers, we hosted virtual discussion boards on ASQ’s community platform, myASQ. Throughout the week, members asked questions, challenged ideas, and learned from one another on a variety of quality topics. With over 900 new members joining the community, the conversations have continued to grow. Here are a few stand-out observations:

myASQ quote
myASQ quote
myASQ quote
myASQ quote
On-Demand Recordings

WCQI is known for bringing quality experts, industry trailblazers, and thought leaders together to teach and share exclusive content. This year, ASQ is offering dozens of on-demand recordings for both members and nonmembers. With three focus areas—Quality Foundations, Beyond Technical, and Sustaining Innovation—quality professionals can expand their knowledge and skills with topical recordings like Integrating Risk, Leading Change in a Changing World, and Designing High Impact Experiments. These recordings are available for purchase until June 1, 2020, so take advantage of this opportunity!


Without our ASQ members, WCQI Virtual would not have been the success it was. So, to our members, we want to say thank you! Your abilities to adapt, your willingness to try new systems, and your consistent drive to learn and improve made this event possible. To quality professionals seeking inspiration, connections, and access to exclusive, members-only benefits like WCQI Virtual, please consider becoming an ASQ member today. We hope to see you all for WCQI 2021!

How to Be a Successful Virtual Manager

GettyImages-1023145798

As people around the world settle into a “new normal” of working remotely, professionals must adapt to digital workflows and leaders must learn how to manage teams and grow their careers in new and effective ways. To help facilitate this unprecedented change, ASQ has gathered some key resources to help you and your team navigate remote work successfully.


Leading Change Successfully

In this webcast from 2018, author and Journal of Quality and Participation contributor Rick Maurer guides readers through changing your organization while creating a culture of quality.

8 Ways to Manage Your Team While Social Distancing

This Harvard Business Review article by LeaderFactor CEO Timothy R. Clark provides specific tips for leading teams remotely that can help new and experienced managers.

Senior Management and Quality

Available as an e-book, Fin Rooney strips back the myths surrounding quality in this book and provides a framework for devising a coordinated quality strategy and showing how quality is an organization-wide value-adding service.

Culture is Everything

Jeff Veyera released Culture Is Everything this year, showing readers how to diagnose their company’s culture in terms of its suitability for their quality improvement approach, and providing guidance on how to tailor the readers approach to that culture, or change the culture to better suit their approach. This book helps prepare managers to be part of strategic decisions, and lead through quality improvement.

Process-Based Leadership

In Shane A. Yount’s keynote address from the 2014 ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference, Yount presents on business transformation, and how to create and sustain high performance from operations and employees.

Human Development & Leadership Division

One of ASQ’s 26 Technical Communities, the Human Development & Leadership Division is a hub for quality professionals looking to advance their leadership skills. Anyone can download free informational primers on topics like Measuring Performance and Employee Motivation. Your ASQ membership gets you full access to all division content, including exclusive discussion boards and networking opportunities.  

Learn How to Master the Remote Audit

Within the past two weeks, the state of the world looks much different. People around the globe are working from home, including quality professionals. This pivot to virtual quality means that doing a remote audit, or e-audit, will become crucial to doing business. We’ve rounded up some free resources to help prepare professionals to lead organizations through successful remote audits.

Explaining E-Audits

In this classic ASQTV in-depth episode, auditing expert Shauna Wilson explains how organizations can utilize remote auditing.

Ask the Standards Experts

ASQ’s Ask The Standard Experts blog is designed to provide answers to technical questions about international and American national standards, facilitated or developed and supported by ASQ. Experts answer questions about remote auditing and Computer Assisted Auditing Techniques (CAAT).

Mastering Communication for Auditors

In this webcast, Six Sigma Black Belt and auditor Kaiwen Cheng shares tips for effective communication throughout the audit process, from gathering your findings to presenting them successfully using the 5 Whys.

Setting Up a Remote Audit

Quality Management tool Qooling released some helpful tips to setting up e-audits for the first time. Summit CPA Group also wrote about 5 Traits of Successful Remote Audits.

Managing Virtual Team Meetings

In this ASQTV episode, past ASQ Innovation Division chair Peter Merrill shares his advice on hosting successful virtual meetings.

QMS: Prove Your Worth

In this 2018 Quality Progress article, author and professional engineer Govind Ramu walks readers through ways to prove the value of quality management systems, and clear misconceptions about what quality professionals do. Being able to speak to the value of quality is as important now as it has ever been.

ASQ Audit Division

ASQ’s Audit Division is a team of more than 7,000 professionals interested in learning more about and advancing auditing as a profession. The Audit Division publishes newsletters, webinars, and discussion boards on a variety of auditing topics.


As we all adjust to this changing professional landscape, ASQ will work hard to continue to provide accurate industry-specific resources to help the quality community continue to excel.

Be sure to follow us on social media (@ASQ) for more quality news and resources, and let us know what you would like to see on our blog in the future.

Excellence through quality