Published: 5 Jun 2019

John Addey, former Quality Manager at BAE Systems, talks about what being a Fellow of the CQI means to him and encourages young quality professionals to build and diversify their experience

Why is being a Fellow of the CQI important to you?

Being a quality professional is a very important role and it is only right that this is recognised by membership of a chartered professional organisation. As with any corporate organisation, the CQI has grades reflecting the knowledge, skills and experience of the individual, with the structure encouraging personal development using a common development framework. As a manager recruiting staff, CQI membership gave me confidence that the people I was recruiting had, not only the abilities I was looking for, but that they were also committed to personal development. 

What are the main changes you have seen in quality management during your career?

At the start of my career, the emphasis of quality was on inspection ­– mainly in manufacturing – with all purchased goods being rigorously inspected before acceptance. Fast forward now to 2019, and the emphasis has changed from reactive quality control to proactive quality management using total quality management methods. This includes appropriate controls across all the lifecycle based on risk; the challenge of managing quality during simultaneous working; the integration of quality with efficiency and effective methods, such as Lean and Six Sigma, and expecting/encouraging suppliers to always deliver quality compliant items, thus reducing the need for 100 per cent incoming inspection.

My advice to young quality professionals would be to take every opportunity to widen your experience

What is the biggest challenge for quality professionals in this rapidly-changing environment?

Fifteen years ago, I presented a paper at a quality conference predicting that in the future, as well as technical quality skills, quality professionals would also need to develop effective soft skills to encourage, coach, support and develop an environment that liberated staff to suggest and develop more effective ways of working. In most organisations, particularly large ones, this isn’t easy!

What advice would you give young, quality professionals starting their career?

Over my working career I had the advantage of moving jobs within the same organisation every three to four years working as an Electronics Designer, a Systems Engineer, a Project Manager, Head of a Technical Planning department, and finally ending up as a Quality Manager. That varied experience over 40 years gave me a good understanding of how the business worked – that I’m sure helped me to understand people better and to realise that situations aren’t always ‘black and white’. So, my advice to young quality professionals would be to take every opportunity to widen your experience, if necessary, proactively suggesting placements in different parts of the business.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

It seems wasteful to collect so much experience over many years and then not to continue using it after retirement, so I’ll continue my work as a Manager of the AS/EN9100 Hints and Tips group on LinkedIn and also volunteer as a mentor as part of the new CQI Mentoring scheme.