ASQ Influential Voices Contribution: How I Explain My Job?

In his June 19 View from the Q blog post, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski, writes,  “So you’re at a cocktail party… Okay, your children’s school concert. You’re chatting with an acquaintance and they ask: ‘What do you?’” Paul’s question is how do we quality professionals explain our jobs in casual conversations? 

In my previous post I wrote that as “…a quality professional I have a habit of trying to reduce everything to its smallest common denominator; I aim for simple or pragmatic solutions to problems.” I further indicated, that the “…simple and pragmatic has not always served me well.  I have missed some opportune, teachable moments…”  One such moment could be when we quality professionals are asked to explain our jobs in casual conversations.  

Explaining what we do in a casual conversation can be a bit tricky. We must first assess whether a detailed account of what we do is really what the other person wants to hear. Sometimes it’s just small-talk they want; a way to break the ice.  Oftentimes, however, we are asked about our job only because the person asking can’t wait for us to return the favor and ask about their job. But on the rare occasion when someone is really interested in what we do as quality professionals, we need to be prepared.

How do I explain what I do?

No matter where I find myself employed these days, whether leading or auditing an organization, whether teaching a course or consulting, I briefly explain that first and foremost I am a quality professional.  I further explain that true professionals teach, consult, audit, write, coach/mentor, and are actively involved as a leader in their respective professional association. In my humble opinion, true or “total” quality professionals are engaged on several fronts; engaged with far more than just their 9 to 5 quality-related position. This is how I explain what I do.

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