Founding Chairman of Hong Kong Society for Quality
Warner S.Y. YEH
1909 - 2000
Warner S.Y. YEH is the Founding Chairman of the Society. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he dedicated himself to the mission of promoting quality, giving talks and presentations to trade organizations and educational institutions to spread the gospel of quality. In early 1980, he delivered a lecture on Quality Circle activities, which was the first of its kind in Hong Kong. In a paper he presented at a Quality Conference held in Hong Kong in 1983, he pointed out with vision that the major problem with our industry at that time was management's inadequate awareness of the importance of quality assurance. Promotion and education to foster better understanding and eventually secure management commitment, he believed, would be essential to enhance sustainable competitiveness of our industry.
Warner YEH was the representative of American Society for Quality (ASQ) in Hong Kong. He spearheaded the founding of the Hong Kong Group of American Society for Quality Control International Division back in 1986, and was elected the first Chairman of the Group. The Group was subsequently renamed Hong Kong Society for Quality (HKSQ). Under his leadership in the formative period and his continual involvement over the years, HKSQ has flourished and established itself as a key player in developing the human capital of local organizations in pursuit of performance excellence.
Warner YEH's initial encounter with the importance of quality occurred during World War II when he joined RCA (Radio Corporation of America) in 1943 after completing his Master's degree at Stanford University. He was engaged as a senior engineer in the Electron Tube Department responsible for the production development of electron tubes, their redesign, and subsequent production engineering, mainly for the armed forces of the Allies. The remarkable contribution he made at the turning point of the last War was captured in an article entitled "YEH led team to crucial World War II breakthrough" published by IEEE in their December 1994 issue of 'Institute' to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Victory of the Allies at Normandy. The article gave an account of how YEH and his team were sweating day and night redesigning the 6G6/G tube only weeks before the operation at Normandy to enable the "King George" radio equipment, which used the 6G6/G, to function reliably in time to join the operation. Without YEH's improvement, several thousand planes equipped with King George radio equipment had been grounded because on test flight the radio equipment, which was used for coordinating planes with tanks, ceased to function 15 minutes after switching on.
In retrospect, the success of Normandy was due mainly to the supremacy of air power of the Allies. Had YEH's project failed and the Allies' planes continued to be grounded, the flow of history could have been very different. In his usual modesty, Warner, our mentor, said all the honor should go to his team.
To show our deep appreciation of his contributions to quality in Hong Kong, Warner was elected Fellow of the Society in 2000.