by Peter Holtmann
The RABQSA International Inc. brand has become a part of the professional landscape for many auditors; although some still recognize its roots and refer to it as RAB, QSA, or some other variant. For those working within its walls the name symbolizes the past but doesn’t point to the future.
A recent decision by RABQSA’s board of directors to rebrand it has created a small fracas, with news or tidbits leaked from time to time on its social media pages. The real activity has been undertaken by me and a small team of consultants to try and pinpoint what and who RABQSA International is.
Consider, if you will, a duck paddling across a still lake. To the untrained eye you would comment, “Look, a duck on a lake.” Someone with a keener eye might comment, “It hardly makes any ripples on the water.” This is exactly the process we are undertaking with our rebranding, to make the “duck” glide smoothly and create a minimum of ripples during our rebranding process. Underneath the surface there’s a whole lot of energy in keeping that duck moving.
RABQSA is changing its brand (our “duck”) to grow our strategy as a certification business. Back in 2004 before its merger, the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) and the Quality Society of Australasia (QSA) offered membership and certification and only to auditors. This was a quite narrow scope of operations. Seven years later, RABQSA has much broader scope of business and a much larger focus on the future. Let me elaborate.
RABQSA has a strong and vibrant customer base in the auditing profession; let’s call it the conformity assessment (CA) industry. This continues to be our business staple as we develop new personnel certification products against emerging International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards.
We also have a burgeoning training certification business in which training organizations can have their courses certified to existing ISO or CA-related products or they can have their design, development, and delivery practices certified against global benchmarks. This service is set to expand into new realms this year with the incorporation of examination center certification and psychometrically certified exams. Governments form a key sector of our business. Many new schemes have been initiated by government regulators who want to outsource or deregulate the approval and oversight of contractors for government tenders.
Our competency model and its modular approach to assessments and examinations have also gained interest in the trades sector. Crane operators, mechanics, truck drivers, and propane installers have found a place in our ranks with their various industry associations building recognition and competency assurance programs with us.
Last but not least is a growing interaction with communities such as the United Nations and developing countries, which requires an independent approach to the establishment and regulation of standards. It’s these areas that RABQSA’s experience in developing various frameworks for education, assessment, and surveillance programs has earned interest from reformists.
So, what is in a name? Because RABQSA has such diverse businesses around the world and the capacity to offer such a dynamic range of outcomes, our name is the anchor of our business. Saying RABQSA specializes in certification, personnel, or—even more esoterically—auditors just doesn’t do it justice. So what’s the best way to describe us? The answer lies in the output of the activities we perform and how they can affect the course of a professional’s employment, a training provider’s course attendance, or a government’s ability to regulate against international standards.
Brand longevity is another consideration. Many icon brands have started with humble roots and names and evolved into their organizational “shoe size.” Many brands linger long after their companies have gone.
Mergers, acquisitions, and strategic alliances often present opportunities for significant growth and name changes. Exxon-Mobil formed a joint brand name after merging; Daimler-Chrysler, Citicorp, and Travellers became Citigroup; and Glaxowellcome and SmithKline Beecham became GlaxoSmithKline after their merger.
RABQSA International Inc.’s affiliation with iNARTE Inc. could spawn some very interesting names indeed. A model might be in found in the example of the International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA) is now a brand of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI); although both brands retained separate identities after their merger, they enjoy a shared increase in recognition and traffic from each organization’s customer bases.
What’s next for RABQSA? We are continuing to work with focus groups from around the world, our peers and colleagues, and our staff and directors to find a brand and a name that depicts our vision going forward. Whatever the name or brand we decide on must encapsulate the essence of these words: “To be the world’s most desired organization for competent professionals.”
About the author
Peter Holtmann is president and CEO of RABQSA International Inc. and has more than 10 years of experience in the service and manufacturing industries. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Western Sydney in Australia and has worked in industrial chemicals, surface products, environmental testing, pharmaceutical, and nutritional products. Holtmann has served on various international committees for the National Food Processors Association in the United States and on the Safe Quality Foods auditor certification review board.