I try to answer as many questions as I can on this site and on my LinkedIn Page. One question that I received this weekend is “Is Six Sigma the Right Career Path for Me?”. My answer is below. What would you have advised?

I was looking for the information on six sigma and while searching for information on LinkedIn I found your profile on top.

I want to know if I am choosing right career path and is it worth doing it.

And from where to do it?

After chatting about her background to further understand the question, I came to find the following:

I am currently working as a Quality Analyst in Ecommerce firm.

Actually I was planning for digital marketing course but one of my manager suggested to go for six sigma since I am from quality.

Here is my reply. What would you have advised?

Well, I would say always follow your interests. If you like Digital Marketing, do that! Personally, my background is engineering and software development. I have found Six Sigma practices to be helpful in every discipline my career path has required.

If you’re interested in learning more – I have hundreds of questions like this answered on my site. Start here and see if that helps you decide. If you have any questions, I’m happy to help. Best, Ted.

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Comments (7)

Q: Is Six Sigma the Right Career Path for Me?
This is an undervalued question and is very important for someone to think about this before changing fields (or starting out for the first time).
I feel it is important to ask yourself honestly if you are passionate about this field. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, there were many colleges and universities “pushing” careers onto high school graduates because of the high pay, but it seemed that few colleges and universities bothered to ask students if they were passionate about their new career choice in the first place. I think it is best to not go into a field because of money because if you do, you may end up hating your job and even hating yourself. I have worked with younger, recent college graduate engineers in the 2000s that really seemed to have had no business being in the field because they lacked passion and seemed bored. And from articles and forum rooms discussions I have read in recent years, this problem extends into law and medicine also.
Whether or not someone wants to go into LSS as a career, or to simply take an awareness course at their job, I feel it is value-added and will be beneficial in ones future. Employer’s like to see “LSS” in your resume. And many times, per my experiences, an employer may only be looking for someone that knows the basics in order to help out on the production-lines, i.e. manufacturing or to assist in administrative process improvements. An employer may already have a Black or Master Black Belt, but it is difficult to find someone who can assist the teams and help with the tasks such as preparing team meetings, preparing management briefings, record meeting minutes, etc. Someone with basic training in LSS may be that right person that can assist the BB or MBB and management, which takes a lot off the backs of those that are already “too busy”. It can also be the right stepping-stone to more LSS responsibilities.
I have been in this field since 1996 and I am very passionate about it. I studied it at college (inferential, descriptive statistics, LSS, Operations Management), have an MBA in Engineering, and have practiced it in automotive, Iraq, and now I am in the federal government and I have been fortunate enough to work full-time and part-time in this field.
Here are my two-cents, if anyone cares.
1. My instructor at college made a great point about this field, this was between 1997 and 1999, when I attended. He said, “If you’re going into this field to make friends, you’re going into the wrong business”. He was absolutely right.
2. You need to have “sticktoitiveness” because there is a lot of work to do and you have to be self-reliant.
3. You need to be objective, not subjective in your work. Co-workers will act indifferent (don’t take it personally), they will negate your work (again, don’t take it personally). Just smile and say thank-you and give them breathing room.
4. You should be strong and disciplined. You cannot let others dictate to you or manipulate you, but politely reminds those types that it is a team effort.
5. I see this often with myself; you’ll be doing 80% of more of the actual work and that means setting up your DMAIC template, collecting the data, making the Pareto charts, the cause and effect analysis, determining the KPOV and KPIVs, doing the Hypothesis, and also doing the same for the Pilot. In the end, consider it good practice. I also try to write out my DMAICs as though I am writing a manual with a summary ending each phase, so anyone reading the project can easily understand what is being accomplished. And yes I know how we should be doing it; all team-members doing the work. But this is real-life, not a training manual.
6. Each time you open up a project, there is always something that you think you can or should improve upon such as “rewriting that Objective, Mission, or Problem Statement, change charts, etc.,” based on what some team member said. Try not to over-do it, but you will.
7. Every work culture you work in will be different than the previous one; no two are the same. I could write a book about this one.
8. You should like to read a lot. When, and if, I get a minute, I try to review my Six Sigma Study books, guides, flashcards, etc. I don’t try to memorize them, but I just glance at them quickly for either reference or a quick read. The more I review, the more it keeps me “in the know”.
9. I am lucky to have so many great experiences and I have worked with some great LSS folks throughout the years. I am actually working with a guy that worked with THE MAN himself; Mr. Ed Deming. That is surreal to me because my college instructor made Deming “required reading”, and now I am working with someone that worked with him? My co-worker finds it funny that I admire him so much and he finds it embarrassing that I brag about it, but I cannot help it; he worked with Ed Deming.
10. Remember there is always someone better at this job than you, so listen and pay attention to what they say. You can even learn from LSS beginners because they are unbiased and lack experience and they will be more open-minded and offer ideas and solutions that the more experienced may over look.
11. For every company I have worked at, or project I have worked on, I can tell you something that I have learned that could possibly used in another project, another job, another time, and another dimension. Develop a good memory if you do not have one, because it will help you.
12. Finally, you’ll always have a job.

I am trying to determine if a Six Sigma,(and Project Management) is the correct path to pursue at this point in my career. My background is in middle/executive management in the Wine and Spirits Industry. My strengths are leadership and motivation of sales professionals, I am a sales guy. I am changing industries and am now competing with Sales Managers 15 years younger than me( I am 52). I don’t have a background in statistics or deep analytics, what so ever. I am sharp with numbers in the regard of figuring costs, pricing, margins, P&L types of things. I will be stretched with the course material because it will all be new to me. With that being said, I clearly see the value of SS training beyond the bullet point on my resume. I am just looking for some advice from somebody with experience. I suspect I will land in a sales or management position with a company selling a good or service. Please advise. Thank you

Hi Michael, A background in analytics isn’t required to pursue a Six Sigma certification. Everyone brings different prior knowledge to the exam. It sounds like your prior knowledge will help you in the cost-benefit analysis and project management side of things. The other skills can be easily acquired, and that’s really the draw of pursuing the certification; to learn new skills that can be applied.

I’ve used concepts I’ve learned in Six Sigma in every phase of my career. But perhaps the best way to decide if this is right for you is to look at the trade-offs. What would you do with the time, energy, and other resources required if you didn’t spend them pursuing Six Sigma? My guess is that with Six Sigma you’ll learn tools to drive massive change and growth. What will your other options provide? Six Sigma isn’t the right path for everyone but since the time will pass anyway, it’s good to understand what the trade off would be.

I have completed my Bachelors of Commerce and have close to two years of experience working as a Project Coordinator. My role is to manage the finances and deliver timely project reports to the manager. I am currently 24 years old, and am planning to pursue the Six Sigma Green Belt certification. That being said, I am having a bit of trouble making that decision as I am not sure if I would be able to secure a job with no experience in Six Sigma. To add to this, I have been looking for SSGB jobs on various online platforms and 8/10 companies are asking for experience in the related field. Hence, I was just hoping if you could share your thoughts and guide me through it. Also, down the lane, I have plans to purse the Project Management Certification as well, just to better understand how a company conducts its projects and processes.

Thanks in advance!

Hi Ashsish,

Thanks for reaching out. Here are my thoughts:

When you are looking to land a job where you have little formal experience, savvy employers will look for the following:

1) How good are they at their current job?
2) How will they translate their success at their current job to this one?
3) What do they know about this field?
4) What do they know about this role?
5) Who do I know that will vouch for them?
6) How do I know they’ll fit in with my team’s mission and plans?

If you want to provide answers to those questions, I’m happy to engage with you further.

A basic framework you might create for yourself would be as follows:

1) Get excellent reference at your current role.
2) Get excellent academic credentials for Six Sigma – this means certification.
3) Demonstrate success using Six Sigma techniques in your current role – this doesn’t have to be a large DMAIC, just deliver results.
4) Demonstrate you know the new field you want to go into. For example, if you’re applying for a Six Sigma role at a pharmaceutical company, you had better demonstrate understanding of both that field and Six Sigma.
5) Create and leverage a network of professionals both in your current role, the role you want to be in, and the industry you want to be in.
6) Find someone at the company or place you want to work at and demonstrate value. This usually means doing free work. The trade off is that you learn that field, get actionable experience that you can speak to in an interview & list on your resume, and likely earn a great advocate who will champion you to future hiring managers.

I hope this helps! Let me know your thoughts.

Best, Ted.

Hello. I am a senior year undergraduate student pursuing Bachelors in Business Administration with marketing as my specialization at a reputed university in India. Recently, during my semester abroad program, I studied “Introduction to Quality Management” and got introduced to Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. I am really interested in getting a certification but I am not sure whether it’s right for me or not. Coming from a business background, what will be my career after the certification. Also, what could be the possible job landscape for me? I would highly appreciate your inputs on the same.

Hi Krupa,

Six Sigma teaches you many helpful techniques for almost any role in almost any industry.

I would encourage you to think about your approach differently. Instead of asking “If I get this certificate, what job can I get.” I would counsel you to ask “This is the job I want to have, how can these techniques help me excel at it and differentiate myself.”

If you take the approach of what you want to do, you can then chose what kind of training you’ll need to help excel in it.

I’ve put together a guide here that may be helpful.

Best, Ted.

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