SQA News | Year End 2020
Wins & Challenges
In SQA’s 25 years, we’ve never seen the changes and challenges like those we’ve been through since the last newsletter. Like most businesses, we’ve had our share of struggles and wins, but to stay on the right side of the equation, we’ve had to pivot in several key areas along the way.
We adopted a motto I heard from an Australian business coach named Brad Sugars, “Survive and Thrive,” which wasn’t easy considering the sacrifices we all had to make to achieve the immediate impact required to right the ship. So, what has been the impact of COVID-19 on SQA? Immediate loss of almost half of the business due to plant closures, lock-downs, travel restrictions, etc. Even though we were immediately classified as an “Essential Business,” we still ran into an almost perfect storm of challenges.
We refocused resources, adapted our services, and jumped into an immediate cost cutting plan to minimize losses as we slowly grew our core business back to normal revenues. Most people took 25% salary cuts to achieve this while not laying anyone off. This is simply remarkable teamwork, and everyone did their part for us to ramp back toward “Thrive” status.
Thankfully, after hitting some important revenue goals, employees are now closer to their original earnings levels and soon will be where they were before the pandemic. We’ve learned so much during these tumultuous times about ways to be more efficient and to save money as an organization. I was close to signing a lease in February that would have committed us to 11 years and millions of dollars at a space that would not have worked for the headquarters team in a “post-COVID” world. We now are lease free and have found a new headquarters with more flexible terms and a suitable design.
Personally, my family has been through quite a bit. Both of my kids contracted COVID-19 at their respective college campuses, but fortunately, both are fine after symptoms subsided in a few days. The stress of me dealing with the age and circumstances of my parents has also been impactful to say the least, but thankfully they are fine and well and taking all necessary precautions to stay that way. Hopefully, when things get closer to normal, people will realize how lucky we are to be alive and that true happiness is easier to achieve after experiencing the struggles that arise along life’s daily journey.
Okay, enough pondering… Let’s get into our Wins and Challenges and get you all caught up with what’s happening! First, the Wins…
The 2021 Quality Calendar
Our masterful creative team at SQA has done it again with the 2021 edition. This is our 7th edition 7 and from early feedback we’ve received from clients, perhaps our best. The reason we do this annually is pretty simple, our services can be boring when we first discuss what we do to a new audience. But the results of our efforts are the furthest thing from boring when you study all the things we do to make the world a better place with higher quality! It’s worth mentioning the template we use for each month – in case any of you want to submit ideas for future editions. First, we need a catchy image that someone would want to look at for 31 days. Next, we need a “Quality is” catchphrase like “Quality Pivots” or “Quality Connects”. Then, our goal is to tell a quick story about the image/catchphrase theme and ideally make it educational whilst also telling a brief story about how it relates to SQA. Lastly, we need another image or two along with an inspirational quote aligned with the overall idea. Then voila, you’ve got another month for the latest edition. That same idea becomes a central marketing theme for the organization as we move through each month of the year. Our passion for quality is expressed over and over. Click here to see the digital version of our calendar and send us an email if you’d like a hardcopy! If you want to submit an idea/theme for a future calendar please send your thoughts to me personally at email@example.com. Thanks!
Final Election Results!
We’re glad the election drama is over – we’ve got a new direction and we’re so excited the ambiguity is clearing the room. Uncertainty sucks so I’m thrilled that we can move forward with doing the best we can for our clients without distraction. It’s so easy to get caught up on all of the news events but we’ve been happy to stay out of the fray and stick to the simple stuff like being the best company we can be every day regardless of which political party is in charge.
Although we fully understand the need given the circumstances, air travel restrictions have been a real drag. Seeing clients face to face is paramount to us taking relationships to the next level and we’re highly motivated to do so but only when the time is right. We literally have enough opportunities and invitations to go around the world many times and we’re champing at the bit to get out there to see people! All things considered, we are truly lucky and will remain patient and hopeful of seeing more people soon.
We love some of the answers we’ve received in the past to some key questions; they’ve really helped shape our strategy. Please feel free to send answers/comments to these questions to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can SQA recruit more amazing professionals around the world with many companies downsizing?
Many times, huge opportunities appear during times like these – what are some things SQA can do to offer our clients more value, given the impact of COVID-19?
What can SQA do better? What are your true feelings about how we’ve done collectively over our 25-year history?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Thanks again for all of your support, most especially given our most challenging year to date. Every Client, Associate, and Employee means everything to us and we’re so fortunate to Survive and Thrive because of you.
Yours in Quality,
SQA is on the Move!
A new year, a new address after 25 years
We’re super excited to find a new home in a beautiful building. Although we have a voluntary program for employees to decide whether to come to HQ on a daily basis, many employees are anxious to get back into the office to make things happen. We have four goals for getting this done as efficiently as possible: 1. Safety – This is paramount! We’ve chosen a furniture company called vari.com to purchase items that are specifically designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and facilitate proper social distancing. 2. Results – We feel that working together on site is key to achieving our ambitious revenue goals. 3. Teamwork – While each department has done a great job staying connected, we really miss the team energy that comes from a busy (but appropriately spaced) office! 4. Growth – New employees learn faster when they’re around other employees in the same environment. We need this type of environment to develop newer team members and give them the tools they need to succeed.
Out & About with Team SQA
SQA podcasts are receiving rave reviews. Since their release, we’ve added many new Associates to the team, as well as new clients, so the program shows real promise. Please click on the links below if you want to take a listen, and a HUGE THANKS to the participants who joined me on the podcasts: Jeff Luckey, Martin Van Trieste, Jim McKay, and Ashley Goldberg! Downloaded these gems below or by going to www.SQAservices.com.
Remote audit requests are still increasing into the new year, and SQA’s approach is documented in our Remote Audit One Pager. Since the pandemic hit early last year, SQA pivoted and led the market with a remote audit solution to continue to protect patients from any risk within the supply chain. SQA is now performing 40% of our clients’ audits on a remote basis. We anticipate a change as COVID-19 slows and travel picks back up. For now, SQA partners are extremely impressed with our flexibility and focus on working with their suppliers on site (when safe) or remotely, as needed.
Now, more than ever, the demand for cybersecurity is high, as government, military, corporate, and medical organizations collect, process, and store unprecedented amounts of data on computers and other devices. As the volume of cyberattacks grows, SQA is ready to help government contractor organizations identify risk and provide solutions through our cybersecurity readiness programs. Check out our Supply Chain Cybersecurity Readiness one-pager for more information: Supply Chain Cybersecurity Readiness One Pager
SQA’s global presence has been recognized in Outlook magazine. SQA is proud to be supporting Hellmann in delivering COVID-19 vaccines around the world. “We are fortunate to have our partners and friends who are like-minded and came along with us for this project and we couldn’t have done this without them. This handbook lays out some practical areas we all can review and reflect on our own organization to improve and contribute positively to the big picture.” – David Bang, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics https://lnkd.in/d_iESPR
SQA’s comprehensive Biologics, Gene, and Cell Therapy products and programs are supporting many new clients and existing partners. These programs have been evolving both according to our clients’ needs and in response to recent events, adding critical resources to the SQA business model. Driving the SQA Biologics direction is SQA’s own Dondi Pulse-Earle, who brings more than 25 years of experience within the industry. SQA’s goal is to support our client partners with surveillance and qualification of their material, service, manufacturing, laboratory, and clinical suppliers.
SQA is sharing our secret sauce in our new one-pager: SQA the Global Leader. For more than 25 years, SQA has helped clients in highly regulated and quality-critical industries assess, monitor, and improve their #supplychain performance. With 1,000 quality, manufacturing, and regulatory experts in more than 75 countries, we are a world #leader in providing managed supplier quality services. Interested in learning more about what sets us apart? Scan the bar code! #TeamSQA
As you can imagine, SQA receives a lot of feedback from suppliers and our clients. The communication makes SQA better. Last month, one of our clients was extremely happy with SQA’s speed to market and results, providing this great feedback: “I just wanted to let you know that I have been extremely impressed with your SQA Associate. His support on such last-minute notice has been invaluable! He has given us insight into a supplier that we have never visited and his inspections have put many people including myself at ease.” SQA appreciates every client partnership we have. This particular client partner is a U.S. federal government agency responsible for the civilian space program. At SQA, we always strive to look closer and dig deeper.
SQA along with some industry leading companies presented at the SoCal PDA 4th Annual Fall Symposium Risk-Based Approaches to During the COVID-19 Pandemic. SQA presented with Pace Analytical Life Sciences and Ecolab on #virtual audits and its importance during the pandemic. Since the beginning of COVID-19, SQA has adapted and evolved for the safety of our employees, associates, clients, and suppliers. We’ve implemented work from home for our employees as well as developed auditing tools that allow clients to remotely access their #supply chains without sacrificing the #quality of on-site audits. Contact us today to learn more about #remote audits.
Keck Graduate Institute Career Fair, virtual event, Friday, February 26 from 10 AM – 3 PM PST, www.kgi.edu
Parenteral Drug Association Annual Meeting, virtual event, March 15-17th, Advancing People, Connecting Data, and Evolving Manufacturing Technologies, www.pda.org
International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, Aseptic Conference , virtual event, March 15-17th, www.ispe.org
Personal Care Product Council Virtual Event May 11-13th, Embracing the Future of Beauty, with a focus on Inclusive Beauty, Essential Beauty, and Sustainable Beauty, www.personalcarecouncil.org
Meet Diana Castro, SQA Staff Accountant
After obtaining a B.S. in Accounting, Diana Castro started a seasonal job as a tax support representative and then joined SQA’s Accounting Department in 2003. Diana had been working for SQA for 10 years when she left in 2013 to help her husband with his transmission shop. After five years away from SQA, in November of 2018, Diana had the opportunity to join SQA’s Accounting Department again. Diana is happy to work with a wonderful and professional team who provides a family-like environment. She loves doing the work that she does and enjoys being able to help her department achieve goals. Working for SQA has helped Diana grow both personally and professionally. She has seen how SQA has evolved in the last almost 18 years and is thankful to be part of such a successful company.
Due to the pandemic, Diana is working from home, where she has a comfortable space dedicated to SQA. Diana has three daughters and one son. As a full-time working mom, Diana has faced challenging times in the last 10 months as she provides support to three of her kids with their Zoom schooling from home. Diana also provides support to her daughter during her Zoom religious education class on Sundays. At the beginning of the pandemic, Diana utilized her sewing skills and distributed kids’ face masks to the kids in her community. She enjoys family movie nights on Fridays and also loves working on home improvement projects with her husband.
Meet SQA Associate Michael Adams
Born and bred in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Michael Adams’s career in Aerospace started in 1976 when he was a 16-year-old apprentice at a major Aerospace factory in Belfast, Short Brothers, which became Bombardier Shorts and is now part of the Spirit Group. Short Brothers made everything from machine parts, sheet metal work, nacelles, composites, sub-assembly structures, and avionics to complete aircraft, and at the time, the Apprentice Training School was regarded as one of the best in the world. Over the 25 years that Michael was at the company, he took on roles as a fitter, an inspector, a supervisor, a Quality Engineer, and finally a Quality Manager. Since then, Michael joined Honeywell Aerospace and has worked there for the past 18 years and counting as their Field Quality Engineer in the UK/Europe/Israel.
Michael’s role for SQA came due to the COVID-19 restrictions on travel, as SQA needed someone local in Northern Ireland to oversee and inspect large diesel-powered generator units on behalf of a customer. This was cleared with Honeywell, as there was no conflict of interest. Even though the work and commodity were very different from Aerospace, they followed the same processes for build, inspection, test, etc. Michael found the experience to be enjoyable and interesting and thought it was great to work with the “super team” at SQA, as well as the people at the generator unit manufacturing site and the customer.
Michael has been married to his wife Elaine for 37 years and is blessed with three sons, Christopher, Scott, and Simon, who make him proud every day. Michael is an avid football fan (soccer to US friends) and follows Manchester United and his country Northern Ireland as part of the Green & White Army. Michael loves traveling and, along with his wife, tries to go to various cities around Europe and the odd cruise most years, 2020 excluded. Michael is also a big music fan and has a varied taste, as he is a massive Beatles fan as well as a fan of Punk, Ska, New Wave, and New Romantics from his youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and he has a large LP collection. Michael is also keen on restoring or enhancing older cars, all convertibles, MGs, MX-5s, and Mercedes-Benz SLKs.
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