Celebrating twenty years

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Celebrating twenty years

SQT is just coming up on a major birthday. Twenty years ago, this month, SQT was born. We ran our first course in September 1989.

Looking back on those twenty years, they seem to have gone in a flash.

SQT started by delivering the Lead Auditor Quality course. I had wanted to do this course myself, and while it was available in Ireland through the Irish Quality Control Association, as it was at the time, there was a long waiting list. My previous experience in running courses was as a Lecturer in Quality Management in Sligo IT. There along with another lecturer, Noel Raftery, we had organised a course entitled ‘Computer Applications in Quality Control’. It was hugely successful, with about 100 attendees. When, like many others, I couldn’t get a place on the Lead Auditor course, it gave me an idea.

Shannon Quality Training was born.

It took a lot of work but it did get off the ground. I always remember with great fondness, Dairygold Co-Op as they sent many people on those early courses. Customers may not always realise how important early support is to a fledgeling company. It is vital.

For a number of years, the Lead Auditor course was the only course on our books. Batalas, an English company, presented this course. People may remember David Hunns, who was one of our main tutors, back then. Sadly, David has since died.

In the early days, we used the Limerick Inn (now Radisson Hotel). I remember lots of Sunday afternoons with two small children in tow, setting up courses, and then driving to Shannon airport to pick up David and other tutors. I think the first words from one of my children were ‘ISO 9000’. (That’s okay, it’s a good standard!). As I sit at the table and write this piece, the same ‘child’, now almost 19, is studying for his Leaving Cert Irish exam.

Fast forward to today, 2009.

The main changes: Shannon Quality Training is now called SQT Training Ltd. In our current calendar, we have around two hundred courses delivered by forty eight tutors. Siobhan (Cunningham) joined the company in 2002. She and I now share ownership and responsibility for the day-to-day running of SQT. There are now nine of us in the office; Eilish, Frances, Aishling, Kim, Lisa, Margie, and Sinead, in addition to Siobhan and myself. Many of us have been with SQT for a long while, Eilish for seventeen years, Frances for ten. But there are also recent additions, Sinead and Margie are our newest recruits, both joined SQT two years ago.

Our tutor team has grown enormously to include many faces familiar to you. Batalas were bought out by a company whose focus wasn’t training, so (with great reluctance) we moved. People may remember Roger Bailey and Jeff Beer from Bywater UK. Later, we developed our own Lead Auditor course with TMS Consultancy.

Of the forty eight tutors we currently have, a number have been delivering courses with us for almost ten years. The list is too long to name our tutors individually but tutors are most definitely the backbone of SQT.

While a lot has changed in the intervening twenty years, one thing remains completely unchanged. We will only succeed by delivering excellent courses, “excellent” as judged by our customers. That was our goal in 1989. This very much remains our goal in 2009.

In the twenty years we have built up many friends. Many companies come back to us again and again. They depend on us. We honestly do work hard trying to meet and exceed their needs.

So on this twentieth anniversary we look back, but we also embrace the future. We continue to try to develop new and exciting courses. SQT on Twitter and blogging, are yet more changes. In the next twenty years we will embrace lots more change. Our emphasis on Quality however is one thing, we guarantee will not change. After all it is what the ‘Q’ in SQT, stands for. I know it sounds cliché, but we really do try to live it.

On behalf of all of us here, thank you for a great twenty years and here’s to the next twenty years of journeying together.


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