Published: 3 Jun 2019

This week we celebrate the important work volunteers accomplish across the world. Each day we will publish an interview with one of our own volunteers, so that you will get to know them and find out more about what they do to help the CQI excel in its mission. Our first interviewee is Gemma Parnell, Quality Manager at Abbott Risk Consulting, and Chair for the CQI’s East of Scotland branch

What is your professional background?

I am the Quality Manager for Abbott Risk Consulting, which is an award-winning independent Safety Engineering and Risk Management consultancy based throughout the UK and Australia. We provide services to high-hazard industries; primarily to the oil and gas, nuclear, defence, rail and renewables sectors.

I started originally as a Quality Assurance Coordinator, and I have worked here for almost five years. During this time, I have been to Sydney for three months to help on a project where the organisation was facilitating the creation of an integrated management system. I have also provided support to a client’s quality team for one and a half years, on a part-time basis, to a large civil nuclear project.

Prior to this, I worked at the Commonwealth Games which was a temporary position, managing the resident centres within the Athlete’s Village and respective volunteers. This involved creating processes and procedures for when we were operational during the Games.

How long have you been a CQI volunteer?

I have been a volunteer with the CQI since April 2016. I am currently Chair for CQI’s East of Scotland branch.

What inspired you to volunteer with the CQI?

I was at one of the North of Scotland branch events and met two people who ran the SRSC. When they found I was based in Edinburgh, they asked if I might be interested in getting involved with re-starting the East of Scotland branch committee. After a subsequent interview, they said they would put me forward for Chair if I was interested.

I very much was. I wanted to help spread the word that there is a professional membership body for quality professionals. Often organisations only have one or two quality management professionals, which can limit the sharing of knowledge about what is going on in the profession.

I am passionate about further learning and find the events really interesting – and I believed that others would too – it is a good way to spread the word that the CQI is an active body. I also hoped that it could encourage younger people in to the profession. While there are now more degrees incorporating some aspect of quality into their courses, there are still many blank faces when trying to describe what a role in quality exactly is.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering with the CQI?

For me, it’s being part of something which is helping raise the profile of the CQI, and of the quality profession generally. It’s great to see more organisations become interested in their quality professionals being members of the CQI, which is helped by the work to raise the profile of the CQI.

What has been the highlight of your volunteer experience so far?

it’s really rewarding any time that good feedback is received on one of the speaker events.

What are the challenges of being a volunteer?

It’s finding the time to fit it in to an already busy schedule, and finding individuals or organisations who would be willing to come and speak at the events.

Would you recommend others to become a volunteer? If so, why?

Yes, I would. It’s always a fulfilling experience to volunteer, but it is rewarding to know that you are helping raise the profile of the profession for quality professionals and doing things that can contribute to the happiness of others within the profession via the branch, networking and learning through the events we organise.

For myself, knowing there are others I could turn to for support and advice, when none of my friends work in similar roles, has been great. Just the knowing that it is there brings some comfort!