Frustrated with the Quality Profession?

by Sandra Gauvin

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On occasion, I’ll get an email from a Quality professional expressing their frustrations with the profession…specifically, work cultures that show little respect or commitment to Quality.  The frustrations can be so overwhelming that you may feel like quitting your job and changing your career path to include anything but Quality.

Before you quit, you need to realize that you’re more marketable to a prospective employer if you’re actively employed, so it’s best to come up with an exit strategy that will allow you to go from one job to another.  After all, not everyone that quits their job will get a reality show like Stephen Slater, the Jetblue flight attendant that quit after a bad day at work.

After years of working both in regulated and non-regulated industries, I can tell you this….on average, there’s much more commitment to Quality in a regulated industry hands down!  It’s because the stakes are much higher if a company doesn’t comply with requirements imposed by a regulatory body.  For example, the FDA has the authority to enforce requirements, if necessary, by taking actions such as: Seizures, injunctions, criminal prosecutions, etc.

ISO has no such power or authority.  The most your ISO registrar can do is take away your certification, but they can’t impose fines or shut your business down.  So before you throw in the towel and quit the Quality profession, consider working in a regulated industry where Quality is recognized as a necessary and important part of the business and not just as unwelcome overhead.

How to Cope with Frustrations at Work (Serenity Now!)

  • Take a  ‘cigarette’ break, even if you don’t smoke.  Just being away from your desk and in the fresh air can give you a new perspective.
  • Have lunch off site once a week. Brown bag it and sit at a local park or in your car if you’re pressed for time.
  • Drive to a local Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee. It seems like there’s one on every city block, so you wouldn’t be gone long if you got your coffee to go.
  • Prioritize the importance of your job as it relates to your family and life in general.  Chances are your family will be number one and not your job.  Now put your frustrations into perspective…I’m betting that you’ll realize in the scope of life, your work frustrations are inconsequential.
  • Wear headsets at your desk and listen to music that has a calming effect on you…while you’re working of course.
  • Take the scenic way home from work. This will give you time to unwind and not bring your frustrations home where it can upset more than just you.
  • Find your mental ‘happy place’. Maybe it’s imagining you’re at the beach or relaxing on a hammock that makes you feel the happiest.  Go to your metal happy place whenever you get frustrated to help you get re-centered rather than letting your frustrations build up.

How to Break Into a Regulated Industry

  • Approach small local companies about working a few hours a week on your personal time so you can gain experience.  Want the small company to take you up on your offer quickly?  Volunteer your time.
  • Take a few professional development courses that are specific to the regulated industry that you’re targeting so you can put it on your resume.
  • Join industry specific forums online. Linkedin ( has a lot of forum groups that you can join…this is where you’ll find the unadvertised jobs or get to know people that can open a few doors for you.
  • Put industry buzz words on your resume. To find out what the buzz words are, look up job postings on any online job board (,, etc.) and the buzz words will be embedded in the job description.
  • Go to your local library, where you can look up companies by industry and geographical location.  Most libraries have a collection of resource books that list all manufacturers in the U.S….they look like old fashioned encyclopedias.  The book will also let you know the size of the company and who it’s leaders are, which is great for addressing your resume to a specific person.

Examples of Regulated Industries to Get You Thinking…

  • Energy (Nuclear) (NRC – Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
  • Medical Device (FDA – Food and Drug Administration)
  • Cosmetics (FDA)
  • Blood (FDA)
  • Biologics (FDA)
  • Pharmaceuticals (FDA)
  • Food (FDA)
  • Aerospace (FAA – Federal Aviation Administration)
  • Environmental (EPA – Environmental Protection Agency)

Start developing your exit strategy today, so you can transition to a regulated industry that takes Quality seriously.    By actively working on your strategy, you’ll feel less frustrated and more in control of your career direction.

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