A Culture of Quality

Science was always in her DNA. From the tender age of 5, she was mixing powder and water, flour, cream, soap. Whatever compounds she could find, she would mix. It was no surprise that she chose Biology, Physics and Chemistry at secondary school. Laura graduated from St. Joseph’s Convent in 2002 with 8 CXC O’levels. She attained 7 Grade Ones with distinctions in 4 subjects.  Laura went on to Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) where she did Math (Pure and Mechanics), Chemistry and Physics.

On graduating from SALCC, Laura worked as a teacher before pursuing her passion. From 2008 – 2010 she taught at her Alma Mater, St. Joseph’s Convent. She taught Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Human and Social Biology and Physics to Forms 3 and 4. She left to pursue a degree in Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad.

Since her return home in 2010, Laura has practiced her skills in St Lucia’s bottled water and fruit juice industry.

Like many other professionals in the manufacturing sector on the island, Laura benefitted from training opportunities provided by the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards. She told us: “I personally have a very good relationship with SLBS. When I started in the industry almost 10 years ago, they trained me. They taught me a lot of what I know. They offered a lot of training in quality auditing. SLBS trained me to be a trainer and taught me about the auditing process”.

At 34, Laura Jordan is the Quality Assurance Supervisor for one of the largest bottling water companies in St. Lucia. Speaking on her foray into a profession that has traditionally been male dominated, Laura said: “As with everything in life, there are challenges. For me, it is sometimes the ability to effectively communicate with persons. What may appear simple or logical to me from a science perspective may not always be understood by others. Likewise,  I may  not easily misunderstand them, since  we do not share the same background.”

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As a Quality Assurance Supervisor, Laura emphasized that Standards govern the manufacturing industry. They form the framework of any organization’s Quality Management System, and lay the foundation for a company’s Quality and Safety System. “Standards shed light or guidance in what needs to be done to help achieve quality products. This begins with Pre-requisite programs and then goes deeper into HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) systems. As an example, the Labelling Standard tells a potential producer of a juice product what information must be made available to the consumer. The label must state: the product’s brand, address, information in the languages where the product is being sold, volume of the product, and nutritional facts. The information must be accurate and must never mislead the customer. It should give the consumer the assurance that the product is safe and wholesome.”

She went on to add that standards guide but do not dictate exactly how certain things are to be done. She says the responsibility is on the individuals handling the Quality Management System to develop their own SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to follow the necessary requirements.

The plant for which Laura is responsible is HACCP Compliant. Her company also adheres to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and follows SLBS’ National Standards for Packaged Water Production as well as the National Standards for Packaging and Labelling.

The St. Lucia Standard Mark is very important. I don’t think the public appreciates the mark because they don’t know what it represents. We would like the mark and what it represents to be promoted to the consuming public. Some of SLBS’ requirements to attain the St. Lucia Standard Mark are more stringent than the requirements for some international standards, and most of our consumers don’t know that. Those of us in the industry understand the value of standards, but the general public needs to be made aware of the standards used by local manufacturers.”

In her job, Laura knows that tasks involved in Quality Assurance need to be performed by someone who has a passion for science and learning because “everything rests on the shoulders of the Quality Assurance staff in a company.” From the raw materials chosen, to the testing of the product, manufacturing of the product, and the overall integrity of the product.

Her advice to young persons wishing to enter the profession is: “If you don’t have a strong will to determine what is safe or unsafe, this is not the job for you. However, if you care about making the world a safer place, and want to contribute to safe and wholesome production of goods, then go for it! The satisfaction of seeing your product on the supermarket shelf and observing a customer deliberately choosing it, is worth all the extra effort it takes to put that product on the shelf.”

Laura at work

With a smile she said: “I love what I do.”

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