Skip to Content
MIT Technology Review

‘Remember Me:’ The Real-Life Impact of Q&R

Quality and regulatory assurance work helps save lives. Learn whether you have the ‘quality gene’ needed to succeed in this rewarding profession.

My career has been ripe with defining moments that have shaped me both professionally and personally. What make me most proud are my real-life encounters with people whose lives have been touched by the critical medical devices I’ve helped support.  

A few years ago, I met a young woman who started life prematurely in a neonatal intensive care unit. As a newborn, she had been so tiny—about the size of a U.S. dollar bill.

Now she’s a healthy and inspiring young adult, thanks to her family, her medical team, and the products I worked on in the health-care industry. My encounter with her is one of the many daily reminders of why I love what I do.

When we met, she gave me a photograph—a picture of her as that impossibly small baby, lying next to a dollar bill. She also shared this insight: “If you ever question why you chose to do what you are doing in your career, remember me.” I carry that photo in my backpack every day so that I never forget the impact my product had on her life.

I had another meaningful encounter with an elderly man who sat next to me on a flight. During our conversation, we discovered that my team and I had worked on the pacemaker that was keeping him alive. Our decisions significantly affected that product’s development. He teared up when I told him that.

As someone who has been in the quality and regulatory assurance (Q&R) field for more than 20 years, I can tell you it is deeply satisfying—but sometimes misunderstood—work. When you hear about jobs in Q&R, you might think of roles associated with words such as “policing,” “box checker,” and “naysayer.” Those perceptions couldn’t be more wrong.

It takes creativity, resilience, and a drive for perfection to succeed in Q&R. There’s no room for excuses or errors. The work matters. You must have quality in your DNA. The encounters I’ve shared here are just two of many defining moments in my life and Q&R career. Those examples bring to life the idea that the normal routines of daily life on the job—the meetings, the emails, the conference calls—ultimately can make a difference: People are alive because of the contributions we make.

The Quality Journey at Philips

I am just one part of a transformation that’s under way as organizations increasingly recognize Q&R’s critical role in bringing the next generation of innovative products to market and driving overall business success. Effective Q&R work is especially important in the health-technology industry, where professionals design technically complex products upon which lives depend. As a result, Q&R now ranks high on the leadership agenda, and Q&R talent is in high demand in multiple disciplines.

At Philips, we’re on a journey to embed quality commitment into every aspect of the organization from product design and manufacturing to the clinical differentiation we bring to our offerings.

Our quality professionals are central to the full innovation lifecycle of our products, with opportunities to have an impact from the earliest stages of R&D all the way through to market release and beyond.

That means Q&R is integral for the day-to-day tactical activities of making critical decisions about product quality and safety during product development and manufacturing as well as for longer-term strategic activities.

It takes creativity, resilience, and a drive for perfection to succeed in Q&R. There’s no room for excuses or errors. The work matters. You must have quality in your DNA.

Among the things making me proud to work at Philips is that quality isn’t just a Q&R professional’s job—it’s everybody's job. We regularly have strategic discussions and make decisions about structuring the organization so that people company-wide feel empowered to insist on quality at every step. In our design-control process, for instance, we’re focused on including quality and reliability requirements in design specifications so that any work done by the R&D team embeds quality and reliability into the product’s DNA. Put another way: Design now “owns” quality. We’ve woven it into the very fabric of our organization.

At Philips, we describe our Q&R professionals as perfectionists, non-conformists, and achievers. If you want to join a team that’s passionate about driving a new approach to quality and intent on leading the charge on health-technology innovation, please take this quiz to find out whether you have the “quality gene” we seek. We’d be delighted to hear from you.