Meet the 2024 Quality Professional of the Year: Dr. Milton Krivokuca

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Meet the 2024 Quality Professional of the Year: Dr. Milton Krivokuca

Meet the 2024 Quality Professional of the Year: Dr. Milton Krivokuca

If you're looking to learn more about management, auditing, engineering, Six Sigma, supply chains, or calibration, there's someone I'd like you to meet.

March 20, 2024
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QTY Professional of the Year

Once during a lecture at a private university in Kingston, Jamaica, the power surged and went out. The students and staff were prepared for it. The dean came onstage with a bullhorn and Dr. Milton Krivokuca continued his lesson.

Though his career began in manufacturing, Krivokuca eventually found his way into education, a lucky break for many quality professionals. In his role as adviser and program coordinator, he’s helped students get their degrees—he helped speed up the graduation rate from 3.8 to 2.9 years—and advance their careers.

“We’re very fortunate to have him at the university,” said Kim McNutt - Dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Education, at California State University, Dominguez Hills. “At quality assurance conferences, he’ll work the table, set up the booth, and stay until closing, promoting the program. He will do anything that he’s asked to do. He’s never said I don’t want to do that, that’s not my job. We get a lot of leads from his events. Milt is very involved, rolls up his sleeve, whatever we need to do.”

He’s taught in places around the world, including Vietnam, Ghana, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia—which lead to career highlights like visiting sand dunes at night and having coffee with a Bedouin group.

Despite his long career, he keeps up with trends and has been doing research on Quality 4.0. “I think that a lot of my students are kind of surprised too when I meet and advise them,” Krivokuca says. “They try to challenge me, think I’m behind the times, I’m not up to date with what’s taking place. And then they’re surprised that yes, I am on top of what they’re experiencing and I do know what their issues are.”

With his vast knowledge of quality and willingness to share it, Dr. Milton Krivokuca is our 2024 Quality Professional of the Year.

Dr. Milton Krivokuca at the MSC Booth posing with colleagues
Image Source: Milton Krivokuca and Snappr

Early Years

His career started at a manufacturing company in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He assisted quality engineers and inspectors in the manufacturing areas. He was getting a degree in the evenings. Eventually their sales area dwindled and the company said they would close the office. They said, “Well, we’re closing the office, here’s your pink slip, nothing is based on your performance. Or … we’re opening a satellite plant in Chicago, they want it to be ISO certified. They need a quality manager, the person taking over knows you. He doesn’t even want to interview you. The job is yours if you want.”

So he found himself in Chicago implementing ISO. “It was a great learning experience and really hooked me,” he said. He went back to school to earn his MBA. From there he became involved in ASQ and chaired the quality management division chair for two years. After that, he ended up in education.

This was a natural fit. During the last class of one of his MBA courses at DePaul University, the instructor asked Krivokuca where he taught. At the time, he was a quality manager. The instructor said Krivokuca was always so polished and prepared during his presentations he assumed he was also a teacher.

Through a contact, he ended up with an interview to teach an ASQ refresher course.

“He was testing me. He wanted to retire and the dean wanted him to find a replacement.” He told Krivokuca to come in at nine the next morning. “And by 10 a.m. I was sitting in his chair. I like teaching, getting involved and doing research.”

For others in the field, Krivokuca has some suggestions.

“Get yourself involved with a network of quality professionals. Quality professionals are not in the headlines, we’re not looking for the glory. We’re here because we’re very dedicated to the cause.”

Many people don’t plan a career in quality and he is no exception. “I fell into it by accident,” Krivokuca says. “One of the best falls I ever had.”

Dr. Milton Krivokuca posing with Vietnamese Interpreters at California State University Dominguez Hills.
Image Source: Milton Krivokuca and Snappr

Higher Education

The California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) Master of Science in Quality Assurance (MSQA) was accredited as a campus-based program in 1988. In 1996, the MSQA became the first accredited distance learning program at CSUDH.

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How a Career in Quality Can Bring You Places

Deb IafrateDr. Milton Krivokuca, our 2024 Quality Professional of the Year, shares stories of his round-the-world quality lectures, how he got interested in Quality 4.0, and how a quality career might lead to bringing ANOVA tests to your doctor. He also offers advice for his fellow quality professionals – such as get out there and meet others in the industry.

Listen to more Quality podcasts.

Krivokuca helped reduce the time to graduation as well as the graduation rate. And these improvements didn’t come at the expense of staff morale.

Chhanubhai (C.G.) Mistry says he’s a great guy to work with.

Mistry was a student in the MSQA program when Krivokuca first became the program coordinator. He was struggling to complete his thesis so Krivokuca worked closely with him to finalize his thesis and graduate. In addition, they have been close professional ASQ colleagues for the past 12 years. About four years ago Krivokuca hired him as an adjunct MSQA instructor. At the same time, they also worked together for a local conference.

“He’s a very great guy to be friends with,” Mistry says. “I’m very happy. He is a very helpful person for anybody who goes to him, he just helps them, outgoing, helping, whoever comes to him gets an answer, we talk and take care of the issue for the student, very helpful, very friendly, great person.”

“He does not get angry, and neither do I,” Mistry says. “He is very good at understanding personality.”

His direct supervisor also thinks Krivokuca is a great person to have around.

“He’s awesome,” McNutt says. “He fits the mold of what we do. We really cater to the adult professional and working professional. He has embraced that, he came from industry, industry practitioners understand what working professionals need.”

McNutt also notes that sometimes students had completed all of the coursework but were struggling with the thesis portion of the degree. The dean met with Krivokuca and said they needed to create a comprehensive exam option for students.

This was a long process, involving approval from the university. It was implemented in about 18 months.

“It was a Herculean effort to develop the program, with academic rigor, he didn’t hesitate,” McNutt says. “He knocked out the exam program, help our students get through the program faster so they can go on and get a promotion or a raise.”

McNutt says Krivokuca is not one to talk about the weather or football games. “He’s very serious and professional, no nonsense. He’ll cut to the chase, typically solve any challenges.”

But alongside this professional demeanor he is also very caring and helpful. “He’s very caring, very empathetic to students, very focused to providing excellent student/customer service.”

In addition, he describes him as “very process oriented.” When McNutt came onboard on 2014, he wanted to examine registration and administrative barriers.

They formed a process improvement group to look at registration, marketing, scheduling, leadership, program management, and met weekly. “We were able to streamline it immediately,” McNutt says. They began using less paper and more electronic signatures. The group came up with processes to become more efficient and responsive, with fewer errors.

Barry Craner also loved working with Krivokuca at CSUDH and through ASQ. “He’s persuasive in a gentle and encouraging way,” Craner says. “He makes it easy to bring people on to whatever he’s doing. He was so good at getting people to contribute and mentor. He drops the opportunity in front of you, and describes it so well, you think, ‘why wouldn’t I do it?’”

“He’s earnest, humble and very encouraging. He really never expects people to applaud. He just does his work because that’s who is. He’s almost an understated hero,” Craner says. “I don’t know of anybody who doesn’t respect him,”

Dr. Milton Krivokuca Instructing Quality Management Class in Riyahd and posing with his class.
Image Source: Milton Krivokuca and Snappr

Applying Quality

Krivokuca doesn’t leave his work at work either—he says he blurs quality and reality—but this doesn’t seem to be a bad thing. Once after a Saudi Arabia trip he came home with a sinus infection. When he went to the doctor, the doctor found his blood pressure was slightly elevated and prescribed medication. This medication didn’t seem to help his symptoms—and caused more troublesome side effects such as a dry mouth, which wasn’t good for a teacher who needed to speak all day.

The doctor asked him if he knew anything about data collection. He asked him to chart his blood pressure in the morning and at night. Krivokuca followed the assignment—and then some.

After charting his blood pressure, he created a few more charts to show the doctor. There was no statistical difference on the medication or off.

He showed him his ANOVA chart, an F-test, and a statistical analysis of the variants.

He stopped taking the medication.

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