SQA News | Spring 2016

Spring 2016 Newsletter Header2SQA Wins & Challenges

Dear Friends,

These are crazy times for SQA so far in 2016, with lots of big wins and steady challenges facing us – and we love both coming our way! Why crazy? There is a lot of uncertainty that comes with the election year, but we will continue moving upward and onward regardless of the outcome. Frankly, I try my best not to get caught up in all the banter, but it gets tough with the incessant news coverage. Since we incorporated in May 1995, I simply cannot think of a more tumultuous time in the global spectrum of events, with the exception, perhaps, of the events of 9/11. There has been no shortage of controversy, negativity, and division within the US – with the whole world looking on.

I’ve always believed that America thrives because of its differences, and I sincerely hope for the tact required to keep things moving forward for the good of everyone. I can’t guarantee much, but I can assure you that we as a company will not change our basic principles, regardless of who leads the country. We will continue to partner with our clients, providing the best services and technology possible, and creating rewarding opportunities around the world as we do so.

Building Lasting Relationships

As I get older, I am often asked, “How was your day?” when heading home from the office. My answer is rarely related to something financial that has occurred. We’ve won and lost deals just like everyone else. The things that stick with me more and more now are the conversations with clients and Associates that have little to do with business. Heading in this direction may not always directly help SQA, but it’s a true reflection of where I am these days and how I feel – and I do think that it helps.

A great day to me is one where I get to meet an Associate over dinner and talk about why he or she was inspired to get into the world of quality, or a day when I can get a few different clients together and hear about their vision for changing the world and how we can change with them. Hearing about how our clients plan to use 3D printers to print life-saving human tissue, or how they can land massive, reusable rocket boosters on a floating platform, is truly inspirational. Watching geniuses go back and forth sharing best practices and ground-breaking ideas defines a GREAT day for me.

I’m not good at much, but I can honestly say that I try my best to really get to know our clients and Associates, and I love it when they tell me exactly what’s up, where we need to improve, or specific advice that will help us. Life is too short to focus simply on numbers. I’m a firm believer that the numbers will come when meetings like these occur frequently. The likelihood of mutual success increases exponentially when people first get to know and trust one another.

Martin VanTrieste
In a few short weeks, a fantastic friend is retiring from Amgen. We have many important clients here at SQA, but I am especially indebted to Martin for his friendship and insights, both personally and professionally. Martin is an industry leader (recently named #13 on the 2016 Power List for Medicine, right behind a Nobel Prize winner and his own CEO), but that pales in comparison to what’s in his heart and how he tries to help people, grow businesses, bring more attention to patient safety, and most importantly, be present when people are in need. Congratulations on a fantastic job at Amgen, Martin. I look forward to many more outstanding experiences with you in your next chapter!


I must drive our team nuts sometimes. I’ve always had a passion for getting the client exactly what they ask for (“If the customer wants brown shoes, let’s get them brown shoes!”), which can hurt us, and doesn’t always work. Sometimes the client doesn’t know what color shoes they need, or if they need shoes at all. As our services become more sophisticated, clients are relying on us more to take the lead, and to tactfully disagree if it means achieving a better overall result. We need to do a better job of using our proven tools where practical, rather than creating a custom solution every time. We also need to do a better job of scoping, itemizing, and billing for the expert time and effort that goes into custom projects – particularly when it comes to one of our biggest investments – STEPQ.

Hurrying Up and Waiting…
I’ve rarely been accused of leaning back, and I like to think that we all have this approach to our work. Unfortunately, due to circumstances neither we nor our clients can control, there can be delays on project implementation. This impacts the whole team, but especially our Associates on the ground. There’s always excitement when bringing on new clients. The courtship phase takes place, the pilot is scoped, and then we hit the road blazing. Naturally, we are eager to move once everything is in place, while a multi-billion dollar client may move at a much slower pace for a variety of reasons. This is tough for us to plan resource-wise, and it can also affect the patience of our awesome Associate base. This continues to be a balancing act, but I will always encourage our team to use our best tool in these cases: communication.

As usual, please feel free to send me any thoughts or questions at mmckay@sqaservices.com, and thanks to everyone for your continuous support.

Yours in Quality,
Mike McKay

President/CEO Mike McKay, Senior Program Manager Ed Snider, and SQA Associate William Whitehead. William was recently recognized by NASA for being an exceptional advocate for Safety and Mission Assurance practices. Fantastic work, William!

Introducing the Associate Medal Program







SQA stands for Supplier Quality Associates, and our Associates are a critical part of our business. In the last newsletter, you read about Mike McKay’s effort to get to know some of our key Associates around the world and his commitment to listening to the feedback. That feedback has inspired us to create a program that will involve you more closely in our business plan and provide you with more opportunities at varying levels within our company.

This is what you need to know about our Associate Medal Program:

What is the Medal Program? There are four tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These tiers align with the various ways in which you provide your expertise in support of SQA’s overarching business goals. Each tier has its own rewards.

Why is SQA launching this Program? We appreciate how hard you work – that’s why we want to reward you for your continued partnership with SQA. The more you invest in us, the more we will invest in you.

How do I become a Medal Associate? You must meet specific the requirements for each tier:

To obtain a Bronze Medal, you must be an Associate in good standing, who is educated about SQA and can speak confidently to potential Associates or customers about what we do. You must be knowledgeable about our mission and our many different service offerings, which include part inspection, onsite engineering assistance, providing quality system audits or more intense risk management assessments, remediation projects (remote or on-site), and assisting clients in designing their quality management systems and procedures.

Meeting these requirements and maintaining a consistent performance level (meeting client expectations and deadlines) will result in being considered for current and future SQA assignments ahead of new Associates who are still learning about how we can help our clients.

To become a Silver Medal Associate, in addition to the Bronze Medal expectations, you must:

  • refer qualified sales leads to our Business Development group OR
  • refer qualified Associate candidates to Associate Development OR
  • your work is considered “Gold Standard,” and you help SQA conduct interviews as part of our recruiting process.

When you meet these requirements, we’ll send you an SQA Swag Bag, which will include an SQA polo shirt and an Amazon gift card worth $100.00.

When you reach Gold Medal status, you will have met the expectations of Bronze and Silver Medal Associates, and you will have:

  • written articles and contributed to SQA social media in our newsletter and on our LinkedIn group OR
  • referred sales leads that result in revenue OR
  • represented SQA at industry meetings or client meetings

Once you have met these requirements, SQA will pay for an industry-relevant Certification or Training for you, up to $500.

Achieving Platinum Medal Associate status requires selection by a cross-functional team at SQA. To attain this Medal, you will have to prove yourself at every Medal Tier. You will be working hand-in-hand with headquarters and representing SQA at client meetings and industry events. Platinum Associates will get to come to Los Angeles. We need to meet you, thank you for making us better, and leverage your drive to continue to excel.

My goal is to make this a true Associate Development program. I want to leverage our relationships with you – talented professionals in more than 40 countries – to find more people, get more business, and market the phenomenal services we provide together at SQA.

I’m excited to get this program going. It won’t be perfect at first, and it will involve as much art as science, but I’m committed to making this a success. I welcome your feedback and I hope this leads to many fruitful conversations and a path to improvement! Contact me directly at 310-802-4438 or timl@sqaservices.com.

Best Regards,
Tim Lebetsamer
Director of Associate Development

PDA SoCal Data Integrity & Security Symposium

SQA was the Platinum Sponsor of the PDA SoCal Data Integrity and Security Symposium on April 28th. From an update on what the PDA Data Integrity Task Force is working on, to sessions on maintaining compliance when using a cloud system, we learned a lot! Read more and see photos from the event at the SQA Blog.

Pictured below: Executive Vice President Gerard Pearce, Field Engineering Program Manager Karla Topete, Content Manager/Social Media Specialist Ashley Jakubczyk, Sr. Associate Development Manager Tami Parker, and Business Development Manager Peter Miller.

Associate Spotlight

Over the past 25 years, I’ve worked in the Medical Devices, Automotive, and Aerospace industries doing quality and process engineering.  Being a bit of a math nerd (part of my formal education is Statistics), I tend to gravitate towards anything involving data – particularly validations, DOEs, and Gauge R&Rs. The more interesting the process, the more fun it is for me. These days I’m working with the SQA team at a high-profile, fast-paced aerospace company to audit suppliers and I will soon be working with some suppliers as part of the Part Approval Process that is being rolled out.

One of the ways I enjoy spending my free time is using my chemical engineering and statistics training in the kitchen. While I wouldn’t describe myself as a foodie (by a long shot), I do enjoy tinkering with recipes and techniques while cooking. Most recently, this has included vacuum bag cooking (AKA zero temperature gradient cooking).

How can we help you?

SQA facilitates the realization of supplier quality goals. This is accomplished by implementing programs designed to provide a unique blend of talented subject matter experts, innovative technology solutions, superior service, and unmistakable value.

Join us online for a one-to-one webinar and discover how we can benefit your organization.