A Personal Story of ASQ Certification
I’m pretty sure I picked up the flier for ASQ’s Certified Quality Manager a half dozen times. I already had the Regulatory Affairs Certification. I knew how to study. Baby steps, a little every night and I’d be ready.
I procrastinated. Put it off. For better or worse, I let other things take priority. I had work, teenagers, a husband. Who had time for studying, too?
Finally, I made the commitment, got the study guide, and put a plan underway. I recruited a “Lunch and Learn” study group at work. We met once a week to go over a unit from the Body of Knowledge (BOA.) Each of us committed to presenting a different unit.
Priorities shifted. “Lunch and Learns” got preempted, back-burner. Leaders came unprepared. We lost our stem. Eventually, the group dissolved.
A year went by. Another.
What’s that proverbial saying about getting off the pot?
The Body of Knowledge changed. The name of the certification changed (Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence.) My desire did not. I had to convert “I’ll try” to “I”ll do it.” I called to sign up for the test preparation class.
“If I take the class now, can I take the test later?” I asked Jan Agostinelli. Jan and her mother, Marlyn Hyde taught the ASQ-CMQ/OE class. I already had a vacation to Costa Rica booked, which ended the day of the certification test.
“Let me get back to you on that,” said Jan. Little did I know, Jan researched my options.
“You’re in luck,” said Jan. Her excitement resonated through our phone connection. “You can take the test on the last day of your vacation.”
I signed up, studied, studied, and studied. I babbled out something intelligently incoherent when Jan and Marlyn asked hypothetical questions in class.
“Good. Excellent. You’ll have no trouble with the test,” Jan beamed.
I turned to a classmate and whispered, “What did I say?”
I studied some more. I took the practice tests. Over and over and over again. I did my cross-indexing the way Dave Spengler suggested at the section meeting. I studied some more. I boarded a for Costa Rica.
Between jungle hikes, mudslides, and volcano viewing, I studied. I took the practice test some more. I soaked in the hot springs. I had a frightening thought: what if the test is not in English; Costa Ricans speak Spanish. I called the proctor’s phone number.
“Hola. Habla Español poquito.”
I breathed a sign of relief. Turns out everyone in Costa Rica must take the test in English. Whew! In retrospect, it hardly seemed fair for Spanish speaking ASQ members. Some of the questions are quite nuanced and a little tricky, requiring careful reading. And the essay questions? Jan was right, know your gurus and you’ll be alright.
I went through the questions like Dave suggested, answering the ones I felt confident about. Ooo, not all that many. I went on to the essay questions, which make up a high percentage of the points. I checked my time. Holy Guacamole! I only had an hour left. I better hurry.
Take a deep breath, take a bite of the protein bar I brought along for a snack, maybe take a bathroom break. All suggestions from Dave. I can do this. I can. But I better pick up the pace.
I finished, checked the time, and, according to my cell-phone clock, had a few minutes to double-check a couple answers.
“You have one hour remaining,” came the proctors voice in that musical English common to Costa Ricans.
Yes, my watch was off by an hour. How did that happen? I don’t know.
I left thinking, well, I never failed a test before, I guess I can check that off my list of things I never did.
I passed! I passed! I passed!
Was the time and effort worth it just to tack ASQ-CMQ/OE behind, MS and RAC? Yes, gaining the Body of Knowledge required for certification paid off for me. The BOK helped me formulate a project plan for process mapping and improvement, which I presented to the senior management team where I worked. With their approval, I led a team that proposed process improvements, which could save upwards of $400,000 a year in process waste. I used the BOK as a resource in successful consulting proposal. The BOK even helped me recognize and avoid an untenable work situation. (Yes, one of the things I learned was how to recognize symptoms of lack of commitment, poor project/team organization, or inadequate resources commitment, which can doom projects.
Preparing and passing the CMQ/OE certification exam was difficult. Key ingredients for my success: the tips and tricks presented at ASQ1212 members meeting and the preparation class taught by Jan and Marlyn. I couldn’t have done it without determination and a lot of support from my family. I mean, how many spouses are willing to share a dream vacation with a crazed-studier-test-taker? After all, Costa Rica is our honeymoon spot.