A Day in the Life of a Group Quality Manager

Steve McCarthy

Woman with telescope

Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to work in a different job or industry within process improvement? PEX Network's twice monthly "A Day in the Life" series continues this week with Steve McCarthy, Group Quality Manager at Brintons Carpets, a UK-based manufacturer as he explains why quality improvement is not something that can be done either alone or by one department - it's everyone's responsibility.

My background is very much in Continuous Improvement within predominately Manufacturing areas although recently I have been spending time analysing transactional processes. I started my career in the Armed Forces which gave me a flavour for working within demanding environments. I then progressed into a Large global Automotive organisation, it was there I got my first taste of Lean and Six Sigma within a fast paced production facility. From there I specialised in Training and transferring skills in Lean Sigma within the Aerospace sector, but was quickly drawn back into Business Improvement.

Today I am the Group Quality Manager for a large textile Manufacturing company, responsible for all things Quality Management related, whether that’s looking at the deployment of best practice quality standards or reacting to the demands of the marketplace and customers. The Continuous Improvement background has been vital in enabling me to execute Quality improvement programmes therefore concentrating on those things that really move the needle in terms of business performance.

Steve McCarthy is Group Quality Manager at Brinton's Carpets

Everyday, the focus is on the customer! Being a global player in increasingly tough market conditions means the work can be challenging. The biggest drive within the organisation is standardisation, being accredited to the ISO standard enables us to manage our Quality Systems with the focus being to drive improvement. It is my responsibility to ensure that the standards are maintained throughout the whole organisation, despite Manufacturing across different continents. We operate a central Quality Management System, this is important as it maintains clarity of the global picture, it also allows for the implementation of new process and procedures across the whole group. Some very good examples of this have been through recent improvements all linked to the reduction in the overall cost of quality.

As with any kind of strategy around the cost of quality the first priority must be to protect the customer and to stop the "haemorrhaging". Every failure in the field results in some kind of liability for the business. So when feedback of this kind is received it gains top priority. We immediately initiate our Non Conformance procedure so that an investigation can be launched, this will be headed up either directly by myself or a member of my team dependant upon the severity and potential cost implications.

This basic format relies on the tried and tested ‘containment’, ‘countermeasure’ philosophy, where the processes that are the potential source of the issue will be identified very early on and evaluated against the written or documented procedures via the Audit process by our internal verification team. This enables a simple deduction to be made, if you are working to process specification and you still have an issue then it may mean some kind of process redesign is required, otherwise quite simply re-training is needed to bring the process operation back in line with expectations. Once this is satisfied we can then work on our corrective action phase.


We have worked hard over the past couple of years to ensure a fully closed loop Quality Management System, supported by Process change and Process deviation, this has been vital for us to enable control of our system. I am keen to integrate more of the Lean Sigma philosophy into our non-manufacturing processes and the skills I acquired during my time in Automotive and Aerospace has put me in good stead to drive this forward. As a textile manufacturer the industry is not as advanced in terms of best practice manufacturing techniques so a big part of my role to promote the benefits not just to the organisation but to the individuals within it who operate the businesses processes day in day in, I suppose in a way….’winning the hearts and minds.’

I have recently completed the Chartered Quality Diploma with the CQI. This was a very challenging but rewarding programme that allowed me to understand how many of the major quality principles can be deployed successfully within my own organisation.

I am also a qualified Master Black Belt, which has been vital in terms of the many six sigma programmes we have run to date focussing on variability reduction, therefore reducing cost and waste. We continue to drive forward, reacting as appropriate the customer feedback we receive at the same time maintaining a strategic proactive focus on what the group requires.

The goals remain clear, both for myself and the organisation and we strive to continue this journey. It is all about people and processes and understanding the dynamics. Quality Improvement is not something that can be done either alone or by one department, everybody is responsible. That is why we need to make sure that everyone understands their role and how they can impact the bottom line. The Quality System is an integrated part of the business, providing a vital service.

Do you want to share your story with PEX Network? If you work in process improvement we'd love to hear what your day is like! "A Day in the Life" submissions should be between 700-1000 words and can be sent to us at info@pexnetwork.com. Please include a brief professional biography, and a jpeg photograph. Please note: submission does not guarantee publication.