SimpleQuE Shines the Spotlight on Consultant and Auditor, Paul Gambino

SimpleQuE spotlight on Paul Gambino - internal auditor and consultant

The spotlight is focused on Paul Gambino, a simpleQuE consultant and auditor with more than 20 years’ experience implementing, maintaining and improving quality management systems and business processes. He has shared his IATF 16949®  expertise through various articles for simpleQuE to help those in the automotive supplier industry understand this complex standard and its requirements. In this consultant spotlight, get to know Paul, why he likes consulting, and how he has evolved along with the automotive quality standards.

Thinking back over your career, what professional accomplishment are you most proud of achieving and why?

Leading the effort to achieve 3rd-party certification for the Engine Group of Navistar, Inc. in 1998 (Group Staff, Engineering Technical Center, 3 engine plants, and 2 foundries; approximately 4,000 employees and $5B in revenue at that time) to the automotive quality management system – QS-9000.  This was my first involvement with quality management systems and, although “self-certified” to QS-9000, none of the sites had ever had a third-party certification. All sites achieved initial registrations and subsequent upgrades to ISO/TS 16949 on the first attempt.

Tell us about your background and how you got into auditing/consulting.

Leading the QS-9000 implementation at Navistar was how I got started.  After college, I spent 10 years on active duty as an Army officer.  I decided to leave active duty for family reasons (although I requested and received a reserve commission and spent another 20 years in the Army Reserves retiring in 2006 with 30 years of commissioned service).  I got a job at Navistar doing reliability and warranty administration work.  In 1997, the Vice President of Reliability and Field Service at the time was tasked with achieving QS-9000 certification and he asked me if I was interested.  I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but I spent the next 15 years with quality systems as part of my portfolio of responsibilities (I also led the Six Sigma effort and was involved with the supplier quality organization).  During my last 3 years at Navistar, I was the corporate quality management systems manager.  I took early retirement from Navistar to take a job in Afghanistan as Director of Quality for a large maintenance and operational support contract and then did some QMS consulting for Navistar Defense and Navistar before becoming a full-time IATF® auditor in 2014.  I transitioned to contract status in 2018 so I could do training and consulting and also be a certification body auditor.

What is your favorite part about being a simpleQuE consultant?

Although I enjoy auditing, and I believe that those third-party audits do add value, it is not the place for the certification body auditor to consult.  I really wanted a chance to work with companies to improve and upgrade their quality management systems, and simpleQuE offers me the opportunity to do just that.  I enjoy learning about each client’s business, culture, and processes, and seeing how different organizations do things.  It is rewarding to see an organization learn and improve.

Client satisfaction is pinnacle to your background. What are your client-focused approaches at simpleQuE?

I have learned that successful implementations are dependent on learning about the client’s culture, current quality management system, and operating processes and then trying to leverage those to achieve conformity to the new requirements.  Top management support is vital.

How do you stay current in your areas of expertise?

In addition to the training that I receive from the certification bodies that I contract with and IATF®-mandated training, I take additional courses, self-study, or pursue additional certifications, such as the ASQ Certified Supplier Quality Professional I received in 2019 and the ASQ Risk Management Specialized Credential in 2022.

What is your favorite QMS standard and why?

I am partial to the IATF 16949® standard that has evolved from the QS-9000 QMS which was my first exposure to quality management systems.  Although it can be challenging and is not perfect, I feel it provides for a truly effective QMS when properly implemented.

How would other people describe you in three words? 

Knowledgeable, conscientious, and persistent.

Do you have a favorite line from a movie?

Watching different versions of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” has been a holiday tradition in our house.  The 1951 British version starring Alastair Sim has a line that is not in Dicken’s novella, but that I find amusing.  Scrooge stops by an inn to eat dinner on his way home from his counting house and gruffly asks the waiter for more bread.  The waiter says, “That will be a ha’penny extra, sir” to which Scrooge pauses and replies “No more bread.”

Do you have a favorite quote?

A good one related to Quality is: “The reason we don’t have time to fix it today is that we didn’t take the time to do it right yesterday.”  Dr. H. James Harrington

What is the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

When I was in high school and for my first year in college I worked for Crooke’s Orchards in Ashford, Connecticut.  I did a number of odd jobs, but the job I will never forget was pressing cider on Friday nights in the fall on a large wooden cider press.  I would start around 6:00 pm and not finish until all the apples were gone, however long that took. I wore a rain suit, but it was cold and wet, and my hands and arms were stained from the apple juice at the end of the night.  Cleanup was always the worst part since the pulp seemed to be everywhere.

What advice would you give a quality rookie?

My advice is to join the American Society for Quality and pursue quality certifications to learn more about the relevant bodies of knowledge.  Seek out opportunities to broaden your experiences, including becoming an internal auditor.  Audits are a great way to learn about an organization and activities/functions outside of your current job responsibilities.

What is the best book you have ever read?

The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  While not an easy read, dependent on the translator for most of us who cannot read it in the original Greek, it is well worth the effort.  The story is remarkable, the insights are excellent, and it was written 2400 years ago!  While the world is a very different place today, human nature has not changed, and the lessons learned about war and politics are timeless.

Tell us three things most people don’t know about you…

  1. Even though I have lousy handwriting, I collect pens.
  2. My favorite cartoon character while growing up was Wile E. Coyote.
  3. My father (1946-47), my uncle (1951-52), both sons (2020-21 and 2022), and I (1985-86) have served on active duty with the US Army in South Korea.


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