The new wave: Ruth Mortby on forging her career as a quality professional

In part one of our new series Ruth Mortby, Regional Quality Lead at Nuvia and Membership Officer – Corporate for the CQI Next Generation Network, gives an insight into her career as a young quality professional.

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Why did you become a quality professional?

Purely by accident, I didn’t want to do the job I was doing so I went looking for something else.
I don’t think I really understood that I had become a quality professional or what that meant until much later on.

Why are you passionate about quality, was there a turning point that inspired you?

I think I just came to realise how fundamentally it was embedded in the business I was working in. Whether organisations recognise it or not, quality is a core part of everything they do. I’m passionate about quality because done right, it can be so powerful and so valuable. I see too many people who don’t get it right, time after time, and who do not understand that it can be so much more than red tape. Personally, I love the diversity that this career offers me – now I work on every project and every process at all levels within my business.

What’s the greatest lesson you have learned?

It is all about the people. I’ve learned that to be an effective quality professional you need to focus on the behavioural skills. People matter – learn to speak their language and invest your time in helping the people around you to understand what quality is all about and what it really means to them.

The biggest challenge you have faced?

I think of myself as naturally quite shy, I like nothing more than to get my head down and focus on delivering my task. So I’ve had to learn the behaviours that allow me to go out and talk to people. Particularly the ones that let me give presentations and respond to the challenges and questions that follow. I’ve got it wrong a fair few times, but the effort was worth it. Now, they are skills I use every day.

The best piece of advice you have received?

Keep it simple. This applies across everything from designing processes, running improvement initiatives, or working with suppliers to delivering projects. It also applies to talking to people or writing documents. Speak in plain English and the people around you will engage far better with what you are saying.

Why should others become involved in quality?

Quality as a career can take you anywhere, in any industry. Not only is every day different but you’ll find yourself in the unique position of knowing everyone at every level in the business – this can make going to work really fun!

What advice do you have for those looking to start their careers as a quality professional?

Give it a go. Find somewhere you enjoy working and if you stop enjoying it change. Get a good mentor outside your workplace and talk to the NGN because we can help. Don’t be afraid to challenge what is happening around you. Often simply asking the question can make people around you stop and think.