Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring is Conference Season!

The calendar has turned to spring and warm weather is hitting the Tidewater of Virginia.  Trees are starting to sprout leaves and I am looking soon to put my orchids outside for the next five months.   
This is also prime ASQ conference time.  Three of my favorite conferences happen this time of year:  March’s ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference, ASQ Raleigh’s Quality in the Triangle and, of course, ASQ’s big World Conference on Quality and Innovation—the last two in May.   Due to time and budget, I will hit two out of three this year.
I have been to the World Conference off and on since 1997 (Orlando twice, Indy twice, Philly, Charlotte, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Houston, and Pittsburgh).  For my first ASQ conference in Orlando, I was a neophyte to quality so I was on a mission to immerse myself in the experience and try to understand what ASQ was and how it could help me with my job.   I highly recommend anyone who is involved and serious about quality to go at least once in their quality career.  The experience is unmatched for those new to quality.
As I progressed and realized that quality was going to be a career for me, I started to come to these conferences with different mindsets.  What training opportunities were available for me and my people?  What resources do I need on the job?  What other things can I get involved with ASQ that can help with my career?  As this point in my career I made a distinct effort to engage with ASQ HQ people and other Member Leader volunteers to see what they were involved in and how their situation matched what I was facing.   
One of the most rewarding experiences I have with ASQ is being involved with Society-wide projects, either as part of Section or Division Leadership or creating new initiatives.  I was a vocal participant at the first “Ideas to Actions” meeting with Volunteer Member Leaders and that opened up my network and allowed me to participate in some very rewarding projects; in my case working closely with the Learning Institute on initial governance programs. 
This year, I will be manning the booth for the Six Sigma Forum, similarly to what I did two years ago in Indy (you can view those blog posts here and here).  My goal this year is to catch up on old friends (too many to name), new acquaintances, fellow Influential Voice bloggers, and to look for new opportunities. My desire to learn hasn’t diminished; it gets channeled differently.  Note to self:  make more business cards.
For those planning to attend World Conference for the first time, explore vigorously, meet new friends and share your experiences freely.  For those that have been to a few World Conferences, take an opportunity to guide someone new.  You know their look.    Don’t forget to check in with other ASQ Influential Voice bloggers for their insights and experiences. Best of all celebrate the richness of the Quality Community; there isn’t anything like it!
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