I've been very impressed by our newest overseas client, Stock Spirit Group, of Poland. Not only did their 9 trainees pass their IRCA certified ISO 9001 Lead Auditor training course first time, earlier this month; but they all did so using English as their 2nd or 3rd languages. This is no mean feat, as anyone who has sat what is a very advanced-level external auditing theory examination will tell you!
Credit to our trainer, Karen MacKenzie, the Highland lass who used her very best Queen's English to make herself understood to the class which comprised of four Poles, four Czechs, and an Italian.
"I like a challenge!" Karen told me, on her return to Scotland, after an eventful journey which involved the passengers of her flight to Luton being removed from their plane while Police arrested a suspicious couple and searched the aircraft from top to bottom.
"Flying to the Polish city of Lublin to deliver an internationally certificated Lead Auditor course to a group of Czechs, Poles and an Italian in English certainly was a challenge," elaborates Karen, "however managing the group dynamic is the same challenge whatever the mix of the group."
"My jaw was sore form articulating the Queen’s English for several hours a day. I am a Scot after all, so of course I taught them what ‘glaikit’ meant!
"I kept the Czechs together as they helped each other with the language, particularly one who was extremely fluent, and they were comfortable together since they were visitors to Lublin the same as me. They did have one of the Poles in their group, so they benefitted from each other’s knowledge and perspective, but still had the security and support of each other. My other working group was the remaining 3 Poles and the Italian, whose English was so good he was asking me to explain the difference between 'requirement' and 'prerequisite', for example."
"I am a Scot after all, so of course I taught them what ‘glaikit’ meant!"
Stock Polska is Poland's leading manufacturer of clear vodka and vodka-based flavoured liquers, boasting brands such as Żołądkowa de Luxe, Żołądkowa Gorzka, Stock Prestige, Orkisz, Żubr and 1906 within their portfolio. While Stock's principal markets, geographically, are Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, their vision is to become Central and Eastern Europe's premier producer of spirits. They are working towards their goal via a seven-strand strategy, with one strand being closer integration with suppliers and logistics providers. This is where their SQMC-trained, IRCA-qualified supplier auditors come in, and a golden opportunity to utilise the tool of ISO 9001 to their valuable advantage.
"I was impressed with the Stock delegates' willingness to work hard, to ask questions," continued Karen, "and with their commitment to know and understand - to make the most of this opportunity. They worked without complaint through the inevitable constraints and distractions of being trained on-site. Each one was in demand, but they were all rewarded with successfully passing the final exam. I am very proud of them all!"
Senior trainer and course designer, Karen, really worked her socks off throughout her week in Lublin; and this typifies her dedicated approach to every group of students she receives at the Scottish Quality Management Centre, whether home or abroad. However, 'all work and no play makes Karen a dull girl', and she cherished her return to Poland having delivered training for another SQMC client, Hewitt Associates, in Krakow, three years ago.
"Any place looks good at first when you arrive and feel the heat, see the sun and the blue sky, and so it was when I arrived at Lublin airport." said Karen.
"The drive in from the airport took me past the Majdanek Memorial, and I had read about Majdanek(concentration camp) so I visited it the next day.
"Lublin is certainly not lacking in history. At first, apart from Majdanek, there is nothing particularly significant about Lublin until you walk to the old town, and then you are in an overload of history, culture, stunning architecture, and cobbled streets. The sights, sounds, scents of life continuing through the ages – it’s like coming round the corner into a different world, but a welcoming one.
"I have a few places on the planet where I feel enormously comfortable and at home, at ease with myself: home (Dingwall), Pluscarden Abbey, Budapest, are a few of them; and now Lublin old town."