Karen Whicker

Quality Manager


“With EFFECT Photonics, the role you are initially hired for might evolve and develop quickly, which brings new and different challenges.”

What is the most interesting aspect of working at EFFECT Photonics? And what about your job specifically?

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is that there were less than a dozen employees in the UK and another dozen in Eindhoven when I started working for Effect Photonics in December 2016. We now have over 100 employees at each site. I have therefore witnessed significant change in the organisation and am privileged to have experienced such a journey. The other exciting aspect has been developing the role which I am responsible for. This role keeps evolving and helps me move into new areas of learning, which brings new and different challenges. Previously, I was involved in typical quality manager role activities which mainly focused on quality systems, product quality assurance and customer focus. However, in this role I have picked up additional responsibility for co-ordinating product regulatory and environmental requirements which has given me an opportunity to acquire new skills and learn new things.

As Quality Manager, I’m responsible for the quality management system and ensuring that the business processes are compliant. To be more specific, it’s about establishing controls and developing and monitoring processes to help assure our finished products are customer compliant. This involves a lot of auditing, KPI reporting, data analysis, corrective action and continual improvement. A third responsibility, which I have taken on recently, includes product-related regulatory and environmental requirements.

You can imagine that every day is different, and because I’m responsible for the QMS (Quality Management System) in both Brixham and Eindhoven, I am fortunate to be able to work with people throughout the Organisation. I really enjoy working with all the different teams and try to support and help my colleagues where I am able. I also enjoy sharing knowledge, experience and skills with some of the younger people within the organization to help mentor them as part of their training and development.

All in all, I am delighted with the work that I’ve done developing the Quality Management System and achieving our ISO 9001:2015 Certification. Although this sounds a bit mundane, I think a favourite aspect of my role is data analysis and problem solving. I enjoy taking raw data, doing data analysis to identify which problems are the most significant, determining the root causes and establishing how to fix them. I enjoy data analysis because you begin to see a picture develop as you gather and analyse the data and you gain satisfaction from seeing how the improvements implemented start to take effect.

What advice would you give to someone who is planning to apply at EFFECT Photonics?

My advice to anyone considering applying for a job at EFFECT Photonics, would be to prepare yourself to work in a company that differs somewhat from the norm. As a start-up, we experience constant change, and you are required to work at a fast pace.  In a more traditional company, you could work in the same role on the same tasks for several years, with opportunity for change only available when someone leaves the company or gets promoted. Within EFFECT Photonics, it is possible that the role you are initially hired for might evolve and develop quickly. You may get additional responsibilities which take you in new directions and provide you with new skill sets.

Some people who apply might even do so for brand new positions that don’t yet exist in our organization. They get the opportunity to develop a process structure for their future team, hire their team, and set up their Business Process. Now that is an inspiring opportunity!

In summary, I would say that working for EFFECT Photonics provides a fabulous opportunity in a stunning location for people who embrace change and want to work in a fast-moving, dynamic environment. If you have this mindset, you should apply for a job at EFFECT Photonics.

Describe in 3 words what your job is all about.

Quality systems, compliance, and product regulation.

Not exactly four words, but these terms describe my job well.

I see the quality system as a key building block for the organization. It’s a central aspect that links all business processes, Customer and product regulatory requirements together. In my role, it’s crucial I ensure a quality system is in place, in use, and compliant with the ISO 9001:2015 standard.

In April 21, we commenced our ISO 9001 QMS Certification process and successfully completed the Stage 2 assessment in September. Achieving this certification was a major milestone with respect to my goals and objectives for the Business.

What is your highlight about working here so far?

There have been lots of highlights; working with great people, experiencing exiting opportunities and challenges along the way.  Looking back to when I started with EFFECT Photonics, the quality management system was just a blank page.

To have worked with all the teams to define, develop and implement a successful QMS together, has been the biggest highlight for me so far.