Mark Nestle, global director of productivity at Praxair
Where do you work?
At Praxair in Tonawanda, NY. We are a Fortune 250 producer, seller and distributer of gases and high-performance surface coatings.
What do you do? What’s your title?
Global director of productivity. I lead Praxair’s global lean Six Sigma productivity program, achieving about $500 million in annual savings with over 1,400 Green Belts and Black Belts imbedded in business units worldwide.
What’s your educational background?
I have a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
How long have you been an ASQ member?
I’ve been a member since 2000, and I’m now a senior member.
What do you think is most important in implementing a Six Sigma project?
Having a tight project scope, data-driven proof of cause and effect, and a manageable control plan are keys to a project’s success. Also, do not “overtool” it. You should use the tools needed to prove the hypothesis and move to implementing and replicating improvements.
Why do you think Six Sigma is important?
Because of the discipline of define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC) method, and its variations. The tools have been around for a long time, but DMAIC helps keep a project focused and maintains the gains.
Why do you think quality is important?
Imagine a world without quality control? That’s scary, right? Now imagine what state society would be in today if every process worked right the first time and no time was wasted fixing quality issues. Everyone's lives would be better.
What’s your favorite benefit of quality?
Surprising people after they discover how much time they gain to work on other parts of their job after a process is improved and works correctly the first time through.
Why did you choose to go into the quality field?
After working many years in 24/7 operations, it became clear that, without quality and continuous improvement, you’re always exhausted from firefighting. On a personal note: I’ve been lucky in my life and traveled to every continent except Antarctica, working in almost 30 countries. The world is a fascinating place and full of beauty. It’s taught me there are as many different ways to look at a situation or problem as there are people.
What’s your best advice to someone new to quality?
Simplify and mistake-proof the process. Quality is best managed by those doing the task, not by inspections or audits.