September Member Spotlight: Karen Peifer
Highest academic degree?
Bachelors of General Studies with a Minor in Psychology from Northern Illinois University. I spent two years at NIU and realized I wanted to change my major. The school didn’t offer the program I wanted so I had to contract with them, I had to develop my own program and have it approved by the University. This type of program had, at the time, a general designation of a Bachelor of General Studies.
What is your current occupation?
Computer System Validation Specialist. I test non-device software systems at a medical device manufacturing company. I also represent the company’s quality/regulatory obligations for the non-device processes I am responsible for.
Is there a teacher or mentor who influenced you more than others?
While I might have a few special individuals that have made a difference in my life, it is really the “one thing” a few people have said that have influenced me the most. What is that? Well, be true to who you are. Be proud of your vision. Work your vision. Have patience. And to always remember, just because someone can’t explain it or doesn’t understand your vision, doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong.
How were you introduced to the quality field?
I’ve always had a “do it right” attitude in life and work. The first time I believe I really understood it and applied it was when I worked the trading floor at Wells Fargo. I had to understand the importance of me doing my job well; how if I didn’t how it affected others. It was the first job I could be creative and work a vision. It was very empowering and really hit home the idea of “do it right the first time”. And that doing it right meant to do something to the best of your ability. Even if something ended up being not quite right I always knew, as did the people I answered to, that it was my best. I was allowed to grow from any mistakes made. I was able to gain much trust quickly because my intentions were always geared towards quality and value.
What is the best career advice you have received?
- Don’t be who someone else thinks you should be or wants you to be. That I will always be successful if I am true to who I am as that is what I know best.
- Don’t get discouraged. I started my career late in my life, in my thirties and some said I wouldn’t succeed because I was starting out so late. I chose not to give in to that negative attitude, worked hard and proved them all wrong.
Have you had any previous jobs you consider noteworthy?
I have 10 years of service industry experience; previous to my current career in testing. This experience taught me to look deeper into root causes. It made me realize that there are many different things that motivate people. The biggest lesson learned was understanding intent. You can NEVER know someone’s intent so don’t try and guess it. Ask questions, understand someone’s motivation otherwise all you do is live with a false truth. Living with assumptions as truth can be extremely harmful.
What ASQ activities are you involved in?
I am currently a MN ASQ and BMC member. I am involved in the process of developing training events via the BMC, taking them through completion. As the BMC Chair I am learning so much from all the brilliant individuals within the group. I am also going to be volunteering, for the first time, at the ASQ November Conference.
How has being a MNASQ member been valuable in your career?
- ASQ has added value for me because of the amount of information I have access to which helps me to be the best me I can be.
- I’ve also met some very influential and talented individuals through my membership. These relationships have proven to be so valuable to me as I’ve been able to use the advice to further my career but to further the success within my role at my company.
- I have a couple ASQ Certifications which have directly impacted my work. I’ve been able to do some small, some big changes in our processes because of all I have learned.
What brought you to or keeps you in the Minnesota region?
After some time of being out of school I was going to go back to school and get a Masters. I was accepted into St. Katherine’s but realized soon after that paying bills and eating was a little more important. I stayed in Minnesota and started my new life.
What activities or achievements outside of ASQ do you think are noteworthy?
- I love to study as I think everyone should be life-long learners. I’m a forward/progressive thinker and am always trying to find ways to make a process more streamlined and that requires not only personal creativity, but asking “how did other successful individuals do it?"
- I also study quality because I believe it is important to empower ourselves, and others to be the best they can be. For example, I often find companies have checklist procedures which “makes things easy” but don’t empower individuals to think. Critical thinking should be encouraged. I feel it is much better to know why you are doing something rather than do it because it is on a list or in a procedure. Employees need to be educated to stay engaged and to actively contribute.
What are your favorite ways to relax?
- I love to garden. Picky weeds? Not so much
- I love to read history. We have much to learn from the past
- I love to cook. My husband says I like to experiment