With more than 35 years experience in the food industry in roles such as kitchenhand, caterer, and auditor, Marjorie Harvey is somewhat of a food safety expert. The Auditor speaks to Harvey to learn how she has channeled her passion for the food industry into a successful food safety auditing and consulting career.
Harvey began her career in the food industry peeling potatoes in a local pub and then as a trade cook. She later went on to own a catering business, manage food services in aged care, and teach hospitality.
After witnessing unsanitary food handling practices and seeing reports of food poisoning outbreaks in the media, Harvey was inspired to improve food safety through designing food safety programs. Her interest in auditing soon followed.
“Food sites had no food handling policies, monitoring records, or food safety systems,” Harvey said. “I enrolled in university so I could learn more about the Food Act and food safety standards to become an accredited trainer and auditor.”
Harvey’s university studies included learning about HACCP, ISO standards, food technology, and auditing. Here, she gained the necessary skills to become the first female third-party food safety auditor for the Department of Human Services in Victoria, Australia. Harvey then went on to establish Australian Food Hygiene Services—an accredited company offering consulting, training, and auditing for the hospitality industry.
Working predominantly in the health care sector, Harvey’s role as director involves auditing, training, writing food safety programs, and consulting.
Throughout her career, Harvey has designed and implemented more than 800 food safety programs for hospitals, aged care facilities, child care sites, and Meals on Wheels. She continues to offer her services to restaurants, hotels, cafés, community services, government bodies, and prisons.
Harvey reflects on highlights of her career as including assisting the industry in all aspects of food safety management and compliance.
“It has been a privilege to work in areas that are high risk and to have the opportunity to assist clients with gaining compliance, and offering an opportunity for continual improvement if they request.”
However the job has its challenges—particularly in regards to travel and the demands of report writing. Getting a start in the industry also isn’t easy.
“From the start it was very challenging as no one had experienced an audit,” Harvey said. “But as time goes by it has become less challenging as most understand the requirements expected from an audit.
“It is also challenging to keep up with new equipment, changed food processes, and current trends.”
Harvey believes a lack of mentoring opportunities and incentives for seasoned auditors to assist new auditors are key issues in the profession, and suggests the following solution:
“Attending relevant industry conferences and auditor forums to ensure they keep abreast with the current requirements.”
Sharon Carvolth began her career in quality in 1993. Two years later she started Audit Services International which has grown to become a leading consultancy for the mining industry. The Auditor Online speaks to Carvolth to learn about her auditing career trajectory and her views on the current state of auditing.
Carvolth was introduced to quality in 1993 in her role as laboratory manager which involved having the laboratory certified to NATA standards including ISO 9001 and subsequently auditing these standards.
“My next laboratory position was short lived and I took on a corporate role to build systems nationally for the laboratory company,” Carvolth said. “This morphed into consulting for the Queensland [Australia] mining industry.”
Carvolth said she didn’t set out to become an auditor, and reflects that her career progression was organic.
“I have a passion for systems and that translated to my clients who pushed and pushed me to become a better version of myself, which included auditing.
“Since 1994 I have been auditing the Australian mining industry for health, safety, environment and quality [HSEQ] compliance from both a legal compliance and corporate governance perspective. I have been extremely fortunate to be looked upon favorably by every mining corporate in Australia—having trained a very large proportion of the industry in lead auditing. I have successfully held contracts with the Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmanian mining departments to train their inspectorate as lead auditors.”
Carvolth founded Audit Services International in 1995. The company has grown to become a leading mining industry consultancy for safety and health management systems implementation, maintainence, auditing, and training. As principal of the organization, Carvolth’s role is three-pronged depending on the needs of the client and can include lead auditor training, leading HSEQ audit teams for the mining, oil, and gas industry, and acting as a systems and risk consultant.
For Cavolth, the biggest attraction to auditing is how much you can learn in a short period of time.
“Every organization, even within the same industry or corporate entity is vastly different. After every audit I come away with a renewed skill set, a reinforcement of knowledge, and more experience. Auditors are being continuously refreshed and renewed because of the exposures that clients provide them.”
However, the job, of course, is not without its challenges.
“As with any job, the biggest challenge is dealing with people. All jobs are stressful at the best of times and when you add the pressure of an audit on top, you sometimes don’t see people at their best. Some people have preconcieved ideas with respect to the audit and therefore panic when in the presence of auditors, so the constant challenge is to promote a safe and comfortable environment so that we an learn from each other.”
Carvolth considers the biggest challenge facing the profession is the lack of regulation of auditors.
“This means that there are a lot of people who trade as auditors but only perform glorified inspections. This compromises a true auditor’s ability to get work as they cannot compete from a timing or cost perspective. The highest risk on my risk register is an uneducated client—meaning that if the client does not know what to ask for, or what to get, they may not get what they need because an auditor does not end up providing that service.”
Carvolth believes the best way to improve the standard of auditing is for auditors to be willing to learn at every audit.
“An open mind makes for a very good auditor.”
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At 80, Dr. Andrew Perry has recently renewed his auditor certifications to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 13485:2016, and AS9100D. He’s been conducting audits for almost 60 years. Although now semi-retired, he still conducts 10–15 audits per year and plans to continue working from his Southern California home as long as he can.
Perry started performing audits in 1960 for the Inspector of Naval Material at Westinghouse Baltimore-Washington Friendship Airport Division, which later became part of Defense Contract Administration Services.
In the mid 1960s, he joined the Hughes Aircraft Co. in El Segundo, California, as a project quality assurance engineer on the Surveyor project, the first spaceship that went to the moon and gathered soil samples for analysis.
From there, he moved to the Apollo program where he helped audit all phases of design and production of the Apollo instruments. These audits consisted mainly of basic assessments without checklists to discover problems in design and manufacturing and create corrective actions.
After working with the Apollo program in Minneapolis, Perry moved to Los Angeles, where he worked on various space projects for Hughes Aircraft. He later moved to Hughes’ Santa Barbara Research Center, where he audited suppliers to the former aerospace standard checklist NPC 200 1, 2, and 3.
In 1976, Perry began his career in the nuclear field working on reactor electric penetration assemblies for Bunker Ramo Amphenol. Here, Perry reflects on his long career in the auditing profession.
What was the profession like when you performed your first audits? When I performed my first audits, companies worldwide were trying to implement various concepts of the Fathers of Quality: W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points of TQM, Joseph M. Juran’s Quality Control Handbook, Armand V. Feigenbaum’s Total Quality Control book, Philip B. Crosby’s book Quality Is Free and his zero defects program (which we tried to implement on the Surveyor Project), and Professor Kaoru Ishikawa’s handbook, What Is Total Quality Control? defining quality circles.
What were you looking for? Audits were mainly product audits and inspection/test system audits, looking for production controls, product conformance through inspections, and tests.
How did you present the audit report? Audit reports were usually issued to affected managers and professional personnel in the form of memos, detailing findings observed in quality control and each of the production departments visited. Sometimes I added photos to the report.
How have you seen auditing change over the years? I’ve seen notable changes, from the simple self-made audits described above, to audits performed by superbly trained auditors in accordance with applicable standards and ISO 19011:2011.
How often are you performing audits now? Now, being semi-retired, I can afford to pick and choose what audits I perform, based on my interest in the company and product line, as well as how I relate to their management.
Do you plan to retire at any point? I plan to continue as long as I can, sharing with as many as possible the practical applications I have learned in my 60 years of industrial experience.
What advice would you give new auditors? Start out with training to your applicable ISO/AS/TS standard and ISO 19011:2011, conducted by a registrar, certification body, or other internationally recognized entity. Keep current with applicable courses and ASQ meetings, qualify as an Exemplar Global Lead Auditor, and try to become a coach in your company.
Is there a standard you believe could be improved? All the current standards are excellent and are constantly being reviewed by experts worldwide.
Starting his career as an apprentice cabinet maker, David Solomon worked his way up to become a key influence in the construction industry. As executive officer safety and risk at the Master Builders Association of New South Wales, Solomon oversees the safety and risk exposure of the association’s assets in NSW. The Auditor Online speaks to Solomon to learn the secrets of his success.
Solomon has received numerous awards throughout his career. For the past two years, Solomon has won the International Safety Quality Environment Management Association Safety Award which recognizes his commitment to develop a safety-conscious culture in the building and construction industry.
Solomon has also developed four management systems across safety, quality, environment, and integrated management systems.
“I have received comments from people that they are the leanest management systems they had ever seen,” Solomon said. “The secret to writing a good management system is to have everything in sequential order.”
Solomon is also active in the standards development process and is Standards Australia’s representative on the SF-001 committee to develop ISO 45001, the new occupational health and safety standard. Solomon is also on the committee to review ISO 19011, which addresses management system guidelines, among others.
While Solomon has always had a strong work ethic and drive to succeed, it wasn’t until recent years that he really started to develop professionally under the direction of a mentor and a coach.
“If you have someone who has already done it—not to give you the answers—but help you trigger your mind how to arrive at those conclusions it is highly beneficial,” Solomon said.
“Often I’d put my answers forward and my mentor would say, ‘That’s right,’ but you can also do it this way, or another way. It’s good to stop you getting ahead of yourself and see there are other pathways to achieve the same result.
“If you can get someone of the same caliber or higher to check your work without affecting impartiality or confidentiality, that’s another form of mentoring. They might be able to bring to your attention things you may have missed.”
It’s approaches such as these that have led Solomon to develop an “outside the box” approach to thinking and a commitment to develop the best solution for an auditee.
“There are ways to do things that still meet the outcomes without giving a non-conformance. There are other ways of achieving results.”
To boost the public perception of the auditing profession, Solomon said awareness and education is the key—whether it be for auditing, safety, or training.
“A lot of people have the experience. We need to tie that experience, time, and effort back to something tangible.
“There is no point in delivering awareness in an authoritarian way. I often relate the delivery of my messages back to life experiences. You can’t hide behind a document that you have put together.
“We need to bring it back to grass roots—mums and dads, and small to medium enterprises—that’s how to get stakeholder engagement.
“You have to make sure they see the value. If they can’t understand the benefits of getting a third-party audit it’s worthless. The message has to be plausible and then it will grow organically.
“[I encourage people to] have a conversation with someone about auditing, safety, quality, just to get the message out there.”
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Consultant, trainer, and auditor Graham Caddies is a strong advocate for upholding the quality, professionalism, and benefit of auditing. Caddies’ passion for inspiring a higher quality of auditing began in the 1980s when he was disappointed by the inappropriate and poor quality approach to external auditing taken by an organization he was working for.
“The way they were doing it was never going to address the problem of safety,” Caddies says. “They weren’t addressing the business or culture, and they weren’t incorporating it in a way that people could understand how the work environment could impact their health, safety, and welfare.”
This experience motivated Caddies to gain more qualifications and a deeper understanding of how businesses work, including governance, compliance, assurance, and risk. It was then that Caddies became confident to voice his concerns.
“People were being certified as quality organizations and quite frankly they were delivering a poor product,” Caddies says. “Predominantly, it was a ‘tick and flick, show me the paperwork, walk away, and you are compliant exercise.’ But they weren’t auditing from the context, risk exposure, and how the organization actually operates, which was inferred in the old standards but is now a requirement with the new standards. The focus has to be from a context and risk point of view and how the organization actually operates.”
Committed to making a positive change, Caddies started Advance Profit Plan in 1994 to help businesses improve, grow, and incorporate the necessary requirements through coaching, mentoring, auditing, and training. Ultimately, Caddies hopes his business can help to improve the quality of auditing across all industry sectors and all types of organizations.
“The quality of auditing has been pulled down through poor practices in training, certification, and auditing, and unethical people,” Caddies says.
“There have been improvements, with some auditing organizations and auditors doing it thoroughly and achieving sound outcomes, but a large percentage are still doing tick and flick, show me the words, or are auditing just for auditing sake, or have the wrong focus. They are giving the profession a bad name. This is what gives me passion and drive to bring about change.”
Postulating as to why audits aren’t being done properly, Caddies points to numerous factors such as the level and quality of training, poor certification processes, organizations not knowing or defining what they require from the audit process, and poor professionalism.
“I’m not against online training, but how can you be deemed a competent safety auditor or environmental auditor by completing all of your training online in two months when you haven’t even read and unpacked the standards and understood their intent/objectives and their application within an organizations context?
“The other thing is we are not training as per competency-based training. We are just giving them the principles and the theory, but they also have to be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and capability of applying it in different scenarios. When they go through the training, this isn’t being assessed to the required depth or at all.
“[Then there’s the issue of] trainers having a piece of paper saying they are qualified, but they have no experience and are just reproducing [the course content].”
Another issue is a lack of understanding of the auditing process—both by the auditor and the auditee.
“Some auditors don’t understand the auditing process,” Caddies explains. “The organization needs to understand and define why they want the audit, and what criteria they want the audit conducted against.
“When the auditor goes in, the people who engage them don’t know what they want. They get a big wordy document that they think covers it all. But when they read it, they don’t understand, and no one knows what to do about how to improve.
“It’s about professionalism. You need to understand the complete package that you are delivering as an auditor and what your role is in helping to change the organization that has engaged you. You need to either endorse what they are doing well or make them understand what they need to do to improve and why.”
To improve the standard of auditing, Caddies offers some useful tips:
- Understand the underlying intent and objectives of the legislation or standards you are auditing against. A lot of people go into the nitty-gritty instead of understanding the objective or intent of the legislation. You need to understand how to put that into context with each organization you audit.
- Get some experience and see what can go wrong. Often just reading doesn’t impact you until you actually see it. Get with some experienced people—it doesn’t have to be an older person.
- Keep reading and updating—a lot of things interact with each other.
Caddies considers the audit client to be his main source of information.
“Every time I work with a client I believe it is a partnership where I learn their uniqueness and they learn from my experience and understanding of the standards within their context and where they are at and need to be,” he says. “Auditing is more of sharing training/knowledge/information than an auditor going in like a policeman.”
To raise the standard of the auditing profession, Caddies has a clear vision of what needs to happen.
“I believe whether you are an auditor, trainer, or a consultant, like in the financial industry, we need to be licensed and accredited,” Caddies says. “One way is to make any professional—whether they be a trainer, or a consultant—be registered/licensed.
“[We need] a partnership between industry groups, certification bodies, and other community groups to help organizations understand [the value of auditing] and to improve the professionalism of the auditing process. The governing bodies are trying to promote change and they are slowly getting there. The words are good, but we have to convert the words into practice.
“It’s not just auditing; it’s the training too. The actual people doing the work, and the people who monitor and certify. They need to lift their game and get consistent across the board.
“It has to be a concerted effort to change, and it has to be people who are passionate about actually stepping up and driving the required improvement, otherwise nothing will change. The new standards give us the opportunity to act.”
The post Auditor Profile: Inspiring a Higher Auditing Quality appeared first on The Auditor.
To say that Terry Ohlsson is passionate about the motor coach industry would be an understatement. After owning a successful motor coach company, Ohlsson dedicated the last decade of his working life to auditing to give back to the industry. The Auditor spoke to Ohlsson just before his retirement to learn what it’s really like to audit motor coach operators in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).
In 1993, Ohlsson was seeking a career change when the opportunity to purchase a small motor coach company came up. This led to the creation of Red Carpet Tours, which Ohlsson grew from one coach to one of the biggest operators in the Hunter region.
In 2005, Ohlsson made the decision to sell the business and retire. However, after a year, Ohlsson was approached by another operator who encouraged him to enrol in an auditor course. As auditing in the motor coach industry is not a full time responsibility, Ohlsson said he thought about the opportunity “for a good hour.”
“I thought this is a good way to stay in touch with a lot of colleagues we have made over the years and do something constructive,” Ohlsson says.
Helped largely by his experience as a coach operator, Ohlsson completed more than 500 audits and was quite well known in the industry.
“Operators face different problems according to their size and I think they were happy to have an auditor who had been an operator and understood the problems from an operator’s point of view.
“Seeing how they all operate, and understanding what the problems are, and seeing new ways of dealing with problems—it’s fascinating.”
Throughout his auditing career, Ohlsson worked closely with government transport agency Roads & Maritime Services (RMS). Ohlsson says that to understand motor coach auditing, you first need to understand the relationship between the RMS and the operator.
“When you are an operator and facing an audit by the RMS, there is a certain amount of tension involved,” Ohlsson says. “I have an obligation to that operator to make him/her feel relaxed, more comfortable with the process of being accredited, and to understand the reasons for the audit.”
However, Ohlsson acknowledges that meeting the tightening guidelines set by the RMS can be challenging at times.
“Much of [the detail] is largely irrelevant for the safe operation of a coach, and that is what this whole process of auditing was designed to do,” he explains. “Anything that insures safety is good, but there are a lot of things that have nothing to do with safety, and these can confuse and irritate an operator, particularly the many one man operations and those that have English as a second language.
“The auditee needs to understand that the process is designed to make them and the industry safer. The RMS is not the enemy. I encourage them to feel free to ask questions and approach the RMS wherever they are in doubt. I also encourage them to seek advice from other operators.”
Reflecting on his career, Ohlsson lists auditing State Transit twice as one of the highlights.
“They are the biggest operator in the country and are one of the best run operations in the state,” he says. “They have over 2,000 vehicles, 13 depots, and it’s a big thing to audit. Getting to see the inside of how State Transit works was very impressive.”
However, working in an industry such as transport has its challenges—mainly in regards to continual changes in legislation and procedures. With a new auditing form on the horizon, Ohlsson was given the privilege of piloting it before its release.
“I’ve helped to pilot a new audit form in the last few months which is precursor of the changes to come, and to report back to the RMS,” he says. “I was one of two auditors selected and to trial the new form, which asks different questions and has more detail in certain areas.”
Ohlsson says the biggest challenge not only for auditors, but the transport industry as a whole, is the differences in regulations between Australian states and territories.
“Every state should have the same regulations,” he says. “Buses go interstate. We are one country. Why are we following different rules and regulations? It’s unproductive and not in the interests of safety.
“For example, operators accredited in one state could opt to have their coaches registered in another state because it’s a quarter of the cost.
Safety requirements cannot change just because a vehicle crosses a state border. While the NSW state regulations are the most severe, I’m not advocating that everyone has to adopt the NSW principles. I’m saying let’s all adopt a new one, and the sooner the better.”
Despite entering retirement, Ohlsson will not walk away from the industry completely, and will still be available as a driver authority trainer.
“I have a lot a lot of experience in this industry and there will be a lot of operators who may want to take advantage of that,” Ohlsson says. “Now I am no longer an auditor, I can offer advice and help without affecting the audit process. Whilst my knowledge remains relatively current, I can send people to the right place to find the right information.”
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After spending more than 30 years in senior management working for large corporations, Lynn Cook decided to follow her dream of making working life better and started her own business. The Auditor Online speaks to Cook to learn how her previous corporate experience has shaped her auditing career and for her opinions on challenges facing audit professionals.
In 2005, Cook started Personalised Business Coaching & Solutions to offer workplace health and safety consulting, governance, and third-party external workplace audits. Two years later, Cook pursued lead auditor qualifications as she believed she had the skills to be an effective auditor—unlike some of the auditors she had been exposed to in her corporate life.
“My main reason for following the audit trail was that an auditor has the unique ability to take a ‘snap shot’ and rate the health of the business by looking deep into the engine room on a specific day,” Cook says. “Auditors get to have a private and unique experience with business owners.
“We can be a good wake up call and have an unemotional dissection of a business, which the owners or decision makers are sometimes too connected to for realistic actions to be set down.”
Cook also views the role of an auditor to be that of a change manager—assisting the auditee to understand what they require against what they have in place and aiding with corrective actions.
“The auditor has the ability to shape the culture of workplaces by working through the steps. I feel as an auditor I have the ability to change people and workplaces,” she explains. “I have been able to say categorically that we have made a difference to our clients as we have audited and then developed plans for them to be compliant, successfully tender, and for the smaller businesses, compete with the large corporations, because they have a compliant system in place.”
Despite the positives the audit process can bring to an organization, Cook says auditors are faced with challenges on a daily basis. Most of these have to do with the negative stigma of auditors taking a “big bad stick” approach, along with the unrealistic expectation that auditors know everything. Cook believes a static and staged audit environment is to blame for these perceptions. On a more personal level, being the only female in her team in the field of construction auditing, which is predominantly a male role, can be challenging at times.
“It has taken me a while to prove my capability [in construction auditing],” Cook says. “When auditing other industries, I find I am accepted as a certified auditor with Exemplar Global.”
On a more general level, Cook finds the increasing presence of unqualified auditors to be a challenge.
“The issue of employing a less-than-suitably qualified person to undertake a compliance requirement needs to be addressed,” Cook says. There also should be more focus on what a compliant and effective audited system means: What are the benefits and what are the business gains?
“A strong push at all levels of industry bodies—even insurance providers or government bodies—to regulate our profession could be the solution.”
Despite these challenges and frustrations, Cook believes auditing to be a rewarding profession.
“Auditors are not brain surgeons, and auditing is not a complex profession, but it does require facts to be assessed against the evidence provided and a lot of hours and reading to maintain this knowledge,” she says. “As an auditor, the brain has to remain active to ensure it retains the information gathered. Our skills must always be sharpened to keep up to date with the changes in both information and technology.”
When first introduced to ISO 9001 two decades ago, Jackie Stapleton had never heard of the standard. Today, she has a 360 degree view of quality as director of training of a successful training organization Auditor Training Online (ATOL), where she also serves as an auditor, consultant, trainer and Exemplar Global skill examiner. The Auditor speaks to Stapleton about her career trajectory and her opinions on training, the consistency of auditors, and the fine line between auditing and consulting.
Stapleton started her career in quality in the late 1990s working for a software development company training new customers. When the company decided to become certified to ISO 9001, Stapleton volunteered to implement the standard and take on the role of quality manager, despite having never heard of the standard.
“When I first read the standard I had no idea what it was talking about, but I knew it was something I had always done as part of my role,” Stapleton says. “It was quite exciting to know that there was a standard that represented what I liked putting in place.”
After spending nearly 10 years with the company, Stapleton briefly then worked as quality and environmental manager for SunWater, before making the decision to branch out on her own as a contractor building systems, consulting, training, and completing certification audits.
“I was fortunate that the people I had met along the way gave me the opportunity to be involved in and provide training.”
This led to the creation of ATOL, which had its first course certified with Exemplar Global in 2013. ATOL offers the full suite of integrated management systems courses aligned with Exemplar Global competency units: standard management systems auditing, leading management system audit teams, safety, environment, and quality.
When comparing face-to-face training and online learning, Stapleton says they both serve different markets.
“Some people prefer face-to-face training,” she says. “We are finding that a lot of current auditors are opting to take the online option because they are already exposed to the standards and requirements. The training is about formalizing what they already have.
“We also have people in remote locations who can’t get to a course or take five full days out of their work to travel. Online training is just more convenient for them.”
Training is only part of a typical day for Stapleton, which could involve conducting an audit, talking to clients, and compiling training material.
“I love being an auditor because I learn something new every day,” she says. “I am exposed to different types of organizations and get to see what other businesses are doing.
“The highlight is being able to share that with people and teach and train them. I love sharing those experiences with people and applying that practical element of auditing. I get that opportunity through training, both face to face and online.”
Stapleton acknowledges that at times it can be difficult not to cross the line between auditor and consultant.
“As a certification auditor we are there to find things that aren’t compliant or opportunities for improvement,” she explains. “Then we report on those and leave the auditee or client to fix them. We can’t cross that line as a consultant to help them to fix it.
“Sometimes I wish I could take my certification auditor hat off and come back and work for the company for six months and get the system right. It’s our role as auditors to stop at the findings; we can’t provide the corrective action.”
Stapleton believes that ensuring the consistency of auditors is paramount and that it is something that can be achieved through training.
“One auditor might find one area they see as a gap and another might be comfortable with it,” she says. “So it’s all about ensuring that the understanding of the requirements is consistent.
“As auditors, we need that consistent approach. We may all read the standard and interpret the requirements differently. We need to stay open minded to how the auditee or clients apply the requirements.
“We need to take in other auditors’ views and opinions and have a consistent approach. It all starts with training.”