An Interview with Former KMC Family Member Christine Long

KMC Family Member Christine Long Retires

KMC Systems retirement party for Christine LongAfter 10 years at KMC Systems, Senior Supplier Quality Engineer Christine Long retired on Friday, May 2, 2014. The team, or, as Christine describes them, her KMC family, gathered in the cafeteria at 10 a.m. on her final day to celebrate and bid her farewell in the next stage of her journey.

The KMC family will miss Christine professionally and personally.

KMC Systems Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Compliance Gail Wiegand said of her friend and former colleague, “Chris was very thorough and attentive to detail, which made her an excellent auditor. She was always flexible and willing to help out wherever she was asked to, making her a great team player. She genuinely cared about the people and the company, and made many friends while she was with us.”

Here, Christine discusses her time at KMC, imparts wisdom and shares her next steps.

How long did you work for KMC, and what was the progression of your career here?

I started at KMC as a contractor under a four-month contract the week of Thanksgiving in Nov. 2003 and was hired as a permanent employee on April 19, 2004, completing 10 years of service with KMC. 

I was hired as a Quality Engineer (QE) on the Tigger Program working for Cheryl Caron, and later moved to the Wahini Program. As a program QE I was responsible for collecting and maintaining the data required for each instrument’s Device History Record (DHR), as well as performing in-process, and final inspections of the finished instruments, sub-system components, and spares, prior to releasing them for shipment to our customers. 

Gail Wiegand and Christine Long at Christine's KMC retirement partyAfter learning that Cliff Hirtle was planning to retire (approximately six years ago), I asked to fill the position for Supplier Quality, since I'd had 15 years’ prior experience in that role. I enjoyed being a liaison for the suppliers of KMC and championed to improve the lines of communication, earning their respect for following through. Developing the key/critical supplier list, I believe, was my best accomplishment for identifying and managing the suppliers who had the greatest impact to KMC, and was a successful tool regularly used during customer and third-party audits.

What would you say was your biggest accomplishment while working at KMC?

I had been laid off from a DOD company I'd worked for in Wilmington, MA for over 21 years, and my first (and what would end up being the only job interview I would have to go on), was with Gail Wiegand for the QE position. She was willing to take a chance and hire me even though all my prior experience had been in ISO 9001 and not ISO 13485, and at the end of the interview she asked if I had any questions. I told her I only had one; that I wanted to know where she thought I'd be at the end of the four-month contract I was being hired on. Her response was "a permanent employee,” which instantly made me feel that the interview had been successful.

After being hired as a permanent employee, I was at an AAMI seminar with Gail, where we were both going to be taking an exam for certification at the completion of the seminar. I, of course, was a nervous wreck the night before the exam (not having any prior experience in ISO 13485, or the requirements for medical systems). When I shared my concern with Gail, she immediately replied "it's not as critical that you pass the exam, as it is the knowledge you take away for what you've learned.” I don't know if Gail was ever aware of how much that helped to ease my mind, and everything turned out fine the next day. She finished the exam before I did, but we both passed.

What’s your fondest memory of working for KMC?

The amazing support system that is shared (and why I refer to it as my KMC family), and I'm so happy I had the opportunity to be a part of it.

Christine Long wears flip flops on her last day at KMC Systems

What will you miss the most about working here?

The many friends I made (My KMC family)

What would you like to say to those still here?

Practice patience and empathy, and try to find something every single day to laugh about (even if it's yourself), because it helps to keep you sane, human and grounded.

What are you looking forward to the most about retirement?

Having the time to do what I want, when I want (even if it doesn't amount to much). I'm really looking forward to having more time cook, spending time with my pugs, relaxing at our seasonal campsite and gardening.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Yes, I'd like to once again say thank you to Gail Wiegand for believing that job skills are transferable and for giving me the chance to prove it.

I can't think of anything else at the moment, but I need to get busy now doing something (not sure yet what it's going to be, but it will be awesome because it will be what I want to do for me, and not something I have to do for someone else).

Gone from KMC but never forgotten

Here's a bonus tidbit about Christine; it's one of Gail's fondest memories of her. "Christine had one of the most outgoing personalities - at a Christmas party one year, she dressed up as Sonny, and one of our male program managers dressed up as Cher, and the two of them did a lip sync duet to "I Got You, Babe." She was short, and he was tall ... the memory will live on in KMC history for years to come!

Your KMC family misses you already, Christine, and we wish you all the best in your retirement. You’ve earned it!

If you'd like to join the KMC Systems team, check out our careers page.

Topics: KMC Systems, KMC