Murthy S N
Head - Performance Excellence
Ernst & Young
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The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
I have spent several years in Quality using a 2 pronged strategy:
• Support each and every type of department that includes sales, manufacturing, service, design, logistics, business process automation, etc
• Try and provide my services to organizations that are within several types of industries (such as IT and ITES, Financial services, manufacturing, consulting, manufacturing, FMCG, etc
All the while I will be ensuring that my knowledge in the quality domain is always up to date. It is critical to be adaptable to learning new things...for a Mechanical Engineer with MBA like me has had to learn a lot on financial services, IT and ITES services, manufacturing, white goods, consulting, etc.
Decisions That Mattered
(a) Stick to a long term career in quality area where I work and develop a fully fledged career spanning various aspects of the quality domain and not stick to one or few methodologies/ industries
(b) Develop my skills as a quality practitioner on several methodologies such as six sigma, lean, innovation, change management, project management, etc
(c) One needs to know the 5W and 1H of how to build a culture of quality in the organization
(d) How to build competencies such as training abilities, instructional design capabilities to design and deliver training programs customized to the needs of the business teams
(e) Be able to leverage on people behaviors and boundary management, political maps
The Turning Points in My Life
Every time I have had a change in industry, my decision in the year 1999 was to take up functional quality roles have been the inflection points. A functional quality role is actually a dual role where it has both an operational and a quality piece to it. As an example, while I worked in the sales and business development functions at GE Medical systems, I also doubled up as a Sales digitization leader which helped me get deep functional expertise in sales while helping the sales team with my quality skills such as Six Sigma, Lean and BPMS.
Work and Role: Then and Now
My role in my present job is to oversee the initiation, prioritization and kick off various quality improvement projects across the organization. The projects can be either process transformation, process design, process improvement or process standardization. The key objectives of these projects could be waste reduction (time, cost, effort, and touches), error reduction, risk and compliance management and standardization (process document, metrics, dashboards, reviews and opportunity management).
This role helps me to work as an internal consultant and a business partner. Our job here is to help identify the game changers to the business leaders that help them to take their processes to the next level year on year. These projects are leadership or top driven.
Also, to ensure TEI (Total employee involvement), we have a very robust employee suggestion scheme that runs in the organization to save persons hours or dollars. This approach is called as bottoms up or employee driven.
Both the above approaches have helped us to provide huge tangible and intangible benefits over the years.
Five Years Down the Line
I see myself as someone who can help organizations to manage complexity, uncertainty and integration issues. As we all know, change is the name of the game. To keep oneself at the same place, once needs to keep running. I see myself as someone who always has the pulse of the organization and through which I can discern the thread that connects the dots.
Important lessons for professional life
Some of the lessons as a quality person I have learnt are very simple and very crisp.
Bias for action, be definitive, speak the language of your customer, their(customer) needs is more critical than your needs, simplify, keep up small commitments, get to the end... as quickly as you can, culture building.
Above everything else, be passionate and be available when someone needs. The very fact that someone seeks your input / advice means that you are good!
Trends to Watch Out For
Every process has to get automated to reduce errors and reduce cycle times. This is no rocket science. Technology has got businesses by the scruff of its neck. I watch trends such as how something like cloud computing can change the way we do business, the way it impacts cost, delivery and quality. I am also interested in understanding how employees in these days of remote working can benefit much from mobile technology (technology and tools that may be operated while on the move). The world has truly become a global village and it is difficult now to think when it is day or when it is night...especially when we work with clients across the world.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
I believe for someone who is starting early, there is our good friend "www" that can provide knowledge on anything you need. Be hungry for knowledge, never try to underestimate the need to be both a specialist (the best perhaps in the field) in few areas and generalist in most others. You must be dexterous to be able to manage conversations with people from different walks of life and connect to their problems. Read up on industries to ensure that you have understood what they are stating. My strategy of working across departments, functions and industries has exactly helped me to achieve this.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
CMM, PCMM, (TQM and ISO helps understand some fundamentals of the quality field)
LEAN, Six Sigma - DFSS and DMAIC, Innovation, TRIZ
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Several of them are there.
On quality areas, some of the best ones I have read are Quality planning and analysis by Juran, The Toyota way by Jeff liker, Mckinsey mind by Etan Rasiel, Lean by Joe Womack, statistics for management by Richard Levin, etc
On leadership and personality development, I read Robin Sharma, Steven Covey, Deepak Chopra books, Peter Drucker
Websites that I would recommend are treqna.com, isixsigma.com, strategosinc.com, mycoted.com
Last But Not Least
I guess most of them are covered in the above questions. One of the most critical factors in building one’s career is to keep thinking and reflecting on how business trends and changes have an impact on our lives, careers, jobs... and how we manage them proactively, creatively and in a masterly way. Wishing everyone the very best in their careers.
Another most critical but usually neglected piece of Quality management is the people aspect. One needs to ascertain the ABC elements of the ABC (Antecedents, Behavior and consequences) model to determine how to drive change. Ultimately, it is the people who bind the process and technology to up the process maturity levels to provide optimum business value to our customers.
Do We Need Certifications?
Yes, certifications have helped quite a lot. Having said that, there are by no means and the only aspect that one can grow in one’s career. Having certifications is helpful as they take of the hygiene factors that help you get into the hall. Post that, your savviness on business and ability to weave in the business dynamics to manage and drive quality determines the level of success one can achieve.
For me, getting certifications on lead auditors for various Quality systems helped me to see the organization from an overall perspective. My certifications on Six Sigma (GB, BB and MBB) and also the PMP certification that I got helped me a lot.