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Saturday, February 18, 2012

ASQ Influential Voices: Career Choices

In his blog this month, ASQ CEO, Paul Borawski writes about the importance of encouraging today’s youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

I can’t help but think back on my own career and recall a key influence that drove me. I’m not an engineer or mathematician by trade. Rather, I gravitated towards the “softer” subjects of psychology, sociology, and human development – mainly because I didn’t have a chosen career path in mind. I was working to put myself through school and these were simply the subjects I liked. It wasn't long before I realized that I had to discover a way to apply my education to the business world. The first logical match was in training and human performance, which I loved. As I moved up the ranks, all my jobs seemed to have a common theme – improvement and innovation.

I was getting exposure to so many different methodologies: performance consulting, process re-engineering, TQM, Lean, Six Sigma, etc. I knew inherently that this was where my passion and talent lied, but it wasn’t until I met and began working with a trained mathematician that I really discovered that this was, in fact, my true calling. He allowed me to partner with him on a design of experiment (DOE) where he taught me the power of mathematics, and how they could be used to scientifically improve business results. I was hooked! Looking back now on my career choices, it was this “STEM” professional that was an influential voice in my life.

I agree with Paul; it’s essential that we educate young people on these career paths. We must demonstrate the impact that these professions can and will have on our economy, our nation, and our society. In the last 100 years, we’ve seen the greatest technological advancement in human history. We now need to get future generations as excited and committed as the previous ones.

John Priebe
is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 15 years experience in process improvement, innovation, and quality control. He is part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While he receives an honorarium from ASQ in exchange for his commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on his blog are his own.

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