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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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The 2020 Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit

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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE EVENT!  

The Quality 4.0 Summit was a huge success! This past week, more than 200 quality professionals from around the globe gathered together online to learn how to draft a digital blueprint. Each of the three days was packed with amazing presentations and insights, followed by dynamic discussion.  With the variety of different events on the schedule, you had many options to chose from.  There was so much to see and do to engage with experts and peers.  There was even Happy Hour Trivia two nights in a row with the winners earning a free virtual registration to the 2021 WCQI event!  If you weren’t there, you missed an incredible Summit.   

Quality 4.0 aligns quality practices with the digital environment but we know implementing Quality 4.0 in organizations can be hard. This three-day digital event featured the most popular elements of the annual Quality 4.0 Summit–like innovative keynote speakers and future-focused sessions–while also adding new interactive components.  

For all of those who joined us for the 2020 Quality 4.0 Summit, thank you for being part of this first-of-its-kind virtual event! Keep reading to learn about some of the key take-aways from this week and put a reminder in your calendar now to plan for the Quality 4.0 Summit in 2021! 

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Sheryl Connelly presented “Confessions of a Corporate Futurist: Coming Trends that Will Revolutionize Your Business”. The future plays out in unexpected ways, despite the best efforts to prepare for the unknown. Most often, the success and failure of an organization comes down to two things: its ability to manage uncertainty and effectively identify how trends could have significant impacts to one’s business. Connelly revealed her secrets for how to think like a futurist, providing expertise and strategies necessary for effectively anticipating change. From the 10 megatrends that could change the world as we know it before the year 2050, to perspective that will forever change one’s approach to long-term planning and strategy, she delivered the insights necessary for organizations across industry sectors to prosper, innovate, and remain relevant in our world. 

Michael Gale led an interactive keynote presentation, “Excellence in a Digital Age: Where Quality Evolves in a World of Uncertain Opportunity”. Gale walked participants through the underlying shifts in thinking and architectures for the 28% of companies thriving with their digital transformations, and how they can apply that thinking to influence their own organizations. Gale showcased data from the research partnership between ASQE and Forbes Insights for the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool and discussed how executives and quality professionals look at information. The session tapped into research for Gale’s best-selling book, The Digital Helix. Gale reintroduced and emphasized the five aspects of excellence, and how they can be used to implement Quality 4.0.  

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Mike Lipkin kicked off the third day of the Summit with his inspiring (and entertaining) keynote “Use Your Superpowers to Lead the Recovery”. Drawing on the post-pandemic reality organizations will have to adjust to, Lipkin provided examples of how the professional landscape is changing, and how listeners can breakthrough this new environment. Lipkin guided listeners through ten key forces that are shaping the immediate future and demonstrated the power of certainty, charisma, and conditioning.  

In the final keynote presentation, Radha Agrawal presented “Community Building 101”. She outlined the roles of attendee’s “friends”, “followers” and “users” and how all those relationships can still leave people feeling isolated. Radha Agrawal called this “community confusion.” She discussed how leaders need to cultivate their personal communities beyond business. When leaders find support, they create connections–both personal and within their teams—which studies show are key to happiness, fulfillment, and success. Radha shared the outcome of 18 months dedicated to synthesizing her key methods for community building called the CRAWL (core values, rituals, aesthetics, why, language) Method.  

This year’s event featured three focus areas that helped attendees customize their experience according to which part of Quality 4.0 was most interesting to them. Each focus area had a curated selection of workshops, and on-demand sessions. 

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For those just beginning their journey with Quality 4.0, or who want to brush up on their foundational knowledge, this focus area provided the building blocks of Quality 4.0, from terms and definitions to implementation strategies.  

In the session “Unleashing Quality to Support Industry 4.0” presenter Arron Angle outlined the issue that many quality professionals know to be true-only 15% of organizations believe that quality is a priority for executive management, but prioritizing quality can have large positive impacts to a company’s bottom line. Angle explained the value of Behavior Based Quality, or BBQ, to help executive leadership buy-in and promote a culture of quality across an organization. Angle laid out the ways that having a “breathing” BBQ can help aid participants in implementing their Quality 4.0 program.  

Attendees looking to contextualize their role within digital transformation found André Carvalho’s presentation especially useful. In “Why Digital is Not Enough: Finding Value with Quality 4.0”, Carvalho explained the limitations of technology-driven approaches to Industry 4.0. He gave examples of the ways that quality practitioner’s perspectives are valuable, even in organizational focus is heavily on technical innovation. With the variety of methodologies used in “traditional” quality, Carvalho emphasized the importance of creating an integrated approach to Quality 4.0, in order to identify the real value in the technologies, processes, and strategies adopted.  

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The ability to integrate quality into new technologies is critical for the success of Quality 4.0. With sessions highlighting data and automation, this focus area helped attendees see their role in digital transformation.  

Constantin Stan and Alexandra Niculae provided a great scope of information on the robotic process automation (RPA) in their presentation “How the 6 Sigma Belts Improve Robotic Process Automation”. They discussed how an improved process is more suitable for automation, and how a preliminary Lean Six Sigma project will bring even more results than the automation itself. The pair provided insights on how to prioritize the right processes for the robotic process automation, the right tools and deliverables for the process transformation, frequent errors – the efforts and mitigation plans, the Process Design Document which included content and traps to avoid for LSS professionals, as well as discussing roles and responsibilities of an LSS professional in every RPA project. 

In the presentation “Preparing for AI with Lessons from Your Gage R&R Past” Christopher Colaw explained how AI maturity depends on detection and classification capabilities, as well as an adequate source of training data, in addition to minimized hardware variation (visual cameras and lighting hardware). He grouped these focus areas can be grouped into two main actions for the organization; 1) qualification of the AI Algorithm, and 2) Attribute Gage R&R for the hardware which is used to capture the image and enable execution of the AI Algorithm. Colaw explained how only after these two actions are successfully satisfied can the Quality 4.0 organization display confidence in their efforts to ensure this new form of measurement variation is minimized. 

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This focus area aimed to help quality professionals understand how their organizations can build a cultural foundation of innovation through training, management, and measurement tools. 

Scott Burgmeyer and Tammy Rogers presented “Culture Through Self-Awareness & People Data”. During this workshop, participants delved into the science behind what drives people. By understanding the core drives, participants can use this people data to be an effective and productive team member and leader. Burgmeyer and Rogers used examples to showcase how understanding ourselves, our team members, and using people data builds high performance and positive employee engagement.  

Attendees of every generation found a lot of value in the session “Engaging the New Generations in Quality 4.0” lead by Luciana Paulise. Paulise provided relatable examples of the changing and evolving workplace, and how each generation behaves. It’s critical for leaders to learn how to attract, train, and engage the younger generations of quality professionals, and Paulise laid out ways to understand Millennials and Gen Z in order to build a new employee experience in Industry 4.0.  

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The Lighthouse Series helped attendees connect with the newest trends and emerging technologies in quality program implementation while learning from industry frontrunners. 

During “Easing into Big Data: From Logistic Regression to CART” speaker Kristine Nissen Bradley built upon quality professional’s foundation of data knowledge to explore the current machine learning approaches that are becoming common in the field. Nissen Bradley explains the Classification and Regression Trees learning technique and walks participants through how to interpret the analysis.  

In a very relevant on-demand session, Therese Costich presented “COVID-19-Forcing Digital Transformation”. Costich explained how the term disruption often connotes negativity when it should be considered an opportunity for positive change. In this session, participants discussed the opportunities that arise as a result of embracing disruption, how an organization can thrive by taking advantage of the opportunities, and how organizations in any industry can redefine how they do business by streamlining their digital transformation journey with an operational excellence platform. 

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On Wednesday, attendees got an exclusive preview of the new ASQExcellence offering, the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool. ASQE chair Dani Picciotti and CEO Jim Templin led the presentation. The presentation highlighted how the Insights on Excellence (IoE) tool has been developed through the partnership with Forbes Insights, and described its functionality as an intuitive tool for a variety of employees within organizations. This tool will be a leading benefit of the new ASQE Organizational Membership levels, which are coming in early 2021.  

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Even though event participants couldn’t swap business cards in the hallway or chat over meals, the Summit created plenty of opportunities for the quality community to connect and learn from one another.  

Brain Dates, a new feature in the 2020 Summit, were small interactive sessions, that fostered group discussions around identifying solutions to common challenges. From learning how to publish a book, use storytelling to lead teams, to recovering customer relationships participants were able to get their questions answered and network with like-minded colleagues.  

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about the event sponsors, and ASQ and ASQE services through the Quality 4.0 Solutions Center. By clicking through this interactive portal, participants could explore new industry product and service offerings, download exclusive resources, and even pop into a video chat room to have real conversations with Solution Center representatives.  

At the end of the day on Monday and Tuesday, attendees were unable to unwind with Virtual Happy Hours featuring hosted trivia!  Both nights reflected an equal combination of competition and fun as attendees played to win a virtual registration to WCQI 2021.  It was a great way to end each full day of learning.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a great Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit, we look forward to continuing to help you succeed with digital transformation, and we will see 2021!  

Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming events, including Medical Mondays in November. This new series will offer insights into how quality professionals in the healthcare community can not only manage the current conditions facing them but build meaningful quality processes and systems that will last.

This event would not have been a success without our sponsors and exhibitors!

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How to Be a Successful Virtual Manager

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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