February Member Spotlight: Wayne Ellison

Please join me in celebrating our February member spotlight, Wayne Ellison! Wayne has been active in our section for 38 years and is currently serving as the Senior Director on our executive board. Thank you, Wayne, for your dedication to quality and for helping to educate generations of quality leaders!

What is your current occupation?
I am currently retired from 3M Company after 38+ years. I started as a product developer of industrial sandpaper in what was called Coated Abrasives & Related Products Division. I progressed to a Supervisor role and then a supervisor of Raw Materials Testing, then to Final Product Testing, then to a Manager of Quality, then became an Internal Consultant as a Quality Specialist and eventually to the Senior Quality Specialist level with expertise in Quality Management Systems, New Product Introduction, and Supplier Management. I became a Lead Assessor and guided the Abrasives manufacturing and laboratory locations to ISO 9001 Registrations and also became a Six Sigma Black Belt along the way. When I retired, I was part of the Industrial & Transportation Quality Department supporting more than seven 3M businesses.

Is there a teacher or mentor who influenced you more than others?
Like most people, I had help from many different people throughout my career. Art Ahlbrecht who originally hired me when he was the Laboratory Technical Director and later as 3M’s first Quality Director taught me a great lesson early on about fulfilling expectations when he told me “I’m not interested in your problems. I’m only interested in results”. He also taught me not to be too judgmental about others by having us change jobs with others every few years to see what it was like to live in someone else’s shoes.

How were you introduced to the quality field?
I started my career in the quality field about 10 years into my career when I was a Product Development Supervisor . My boss Art Ahlbrecht asked me to take over the Raw Materials Testing group to address issues they were having. This position started my 28 year journey in quality at 3M.

What is the best career advice you have received?
My father-in-law, a retired Aerospace Engineer and Vice-President from Goodyear Aerospace, advised me to take on the most difficult and meaningful projects I could find and just keep successfully completing them as the best path to success. His insight did not bear immediate positive results, but over time, it was some of the best advice I ever received.

Have you had any previous jobs you consider noteworthy?
I was part of a team of three to design training and new approaches and tools to improve the business I was involved with to strengthen industry leadership. A key assessment tool was developed to evaluate the business at each manufacturing location numerically in 8 key categories starting with Voice of Customer through input materials, formulation, manufacturing, testing, converting, and Management of Change processes at 9 defined measurement levels going up to full “entitlement”. This approach was so unique that it was adapted for use in evaluating progress in each phase of new product development for new products and its outputs used as a measurement tool for NPI Phase Reviews by the Division Operating Committee.

What ASQ activities are you involved in?
I have been a member of ASQ for 38 years and have been a member leader / volunteer for all of those years. I currently have the position of Senior Director for the Minnesota Section ASQ. I have had this position for the last several years. Prior to this, I chaired the Minnesota Quality Conference and held positions as the Arrangements Chair and the Exhibits Chair for the conference.

How has being a MNASQ member been valuable in your career?
The value of being an MNASQ member has come in two significant ways. First, access to education in the quality sciences and to experts within the Minnesota Section has been invaluable. The second and perhaps even more value has cone from my volunteering as a member leader over the years. I have personally worked with virtually every section chair over the last 38 years. I learned a lot about how an organization works and how to work with and manage people. These people have willingly provided mentoring and sharing of their knowledge and experience. Now that I am retired, I look at my role as paying forward what they taught me to those who choose to join us as member leaders.

What brought you to or keeps you in the Minnesota region?
I came to Minnesota out of school in 1970 to work for 3M Company. I ended up working there for over 38 years. I still live here so I can enjoy my three children and grandchildren who are all nearby as well as friends I have made over the years.

What activities or achievements outside of ASQ do you think are noteworthy?
I was honored to receive 3M’s highest recognition for my work in quality shortly before my retirement, the Lewis W. Lehr Career Quality Achievement Award, named after one of 3M’s finest CEOs. I was also honored through MFESTS (Minnesota Federation of Engineering, Science, and Technology Societies) with the first Richard Alberg Distinguished Science and Technology Professional Award for lifetime achievement.

What are your favorite ways to relax?
I find relaxation on the tennis court 3 times a week with early morning tennis drills. I also participate in the Washington County Men’s Book Club where we read mostly nonfiction followed up by lively discussions every month. My other favorite activity is to travel with my wife. We love to travel via cruise ship to faraway places although the pandemic has severely limited this over the last two years. We look forward to more adventures this year.. Finally, spending time with our two granddaughters (soon to be 10 and 12) is about the best time one could hope to have.
News Minnesota Section 02/11/2022 7:30am CST