People of U Interview with Suzanne Austenfeld

September 28, 2022

Meet Suzanne Austenfeld, Total Quality Project Manager:


When Suzanne Austenfeld accepted her role as Total Quality Project Manager at Universal Instruments, she knew her goal was to immediately impact and help any department that needed her problem-solving skills. As a Total Quality Project Manager, Suzanne excels in cross-functional collaboration with multiple departments to help solve issues and ultimately deliver high Quality to the customer. Suzanne explained the relationship between the customer, Universal Instruments, and Quality,

“Everybody in every department affects the Quality the customer receives. My job is to ensure we are proactively addressing issues, improving the quality of products going to customers.”


Seem simple? Think again, problem-solving for every department requires a unique skill set and a broad range of knowledge.


So what made Suzanne gravitate toward the world of Quality – other than the fact that her favorite word is WHY? Suzanne graduated with a BS in Computer Science from Binghamton University and an MBA from Syracuse University. She went on to have a variety of roles across multiple different industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and utilities. She has been a Marketer, Strategic Planner, Data Analyst, Director of Operations, Customer Service Manager, and just about everything else under the sun. Suzanne talked about how her past experiences have set her up to succeed in her current role,

“My current role pulls all of my previous experiences together, process and product Quality.” Who better to solve problems across departments than someone with experience in multiple fields? In addition, Suzanne combines her extensive knowledge with her commitment to the customer, “I am always thinking about how my decision will satisfy the end consumer. Always think of the end user.”

With her skillset, Suzanne is instrumental in auditing processes to get to the root of a problem or issue that a department might have.

Suzanne mentoring her team member, Stefan.

She also drives process management to figure out how we can improve or add a process to eliminate the problem and then train the department on the new methods that have been implemented. As you can imagine, the electronics assembly industry can have some complex and rather specific issues that require people who are experts in their field to solve them. This is why Suzanne stresses the importance of teamwork on every project,

“We work together very closely. We have a variety of subject matter experts, and we need to pull from one another’s knowledge to solve issues –collaboration is critical.”

In addition, Suzanne helps ensure that communication is handled amongst the other departments because most processes don’t involve a single department.

“Most processes involve a lot of different departments working together, and my job is to make sure they seamlessly and efficiently function and communicate. Working together to optimize teamwork is crucial.”

Suzanne has facilitated many projects to help increase the efficiency of Universal’s processes.


When Universal had the opportunity to become a supplier for a large international company, Suzanne was instrumental in the Supplier Quality Audit, which required her to review our processes and update any gaps that were not up to standard. Suzanne spent a year leading the review and updating numerous procedures, using her refined process management skills to address the requirements of this specific customer. This included facilitating meetings, communicating changes with multiple departments, and developing training materials to introduce the process changes.

Once everything was updated, Universal officially became this company’s supplier!

Suzanne gets more than enough opportunities to work and collaborate with people all over the company. But Suzanne doesn’t stop there.


In addition to her role, Suzanne is also an ISO auditor, performing internal audits and interacting with all departments during this process. Suzanne is also a medical first responder who is crucial in helping employees with medical emergencies. She enjoys being involved in both of these positions,

Teaching a training class on Project Management skills

“I can meet new people and learn more about other departments from being an ISO auditor. As a medical first responder, I enjoy helping people and getting them the support they need.”

Suzanne took it upon herself to get to know the people at Universal and to build lasting connections that reach beyond her role here.


She enjoys staying active by walking her dogs, riding her bicycle, and going to the gym with her husband. Suzanne volunteers with the American Red Cross, helping in many areas, including sheltering and feeding people after major storms and disasters. She also recently coordinated a blood drive right here at Universal. She also volunteers as extra security for the Dick’s Open, the PGA tournament held in Binghamton, NY.

Thank you, Suzanne, for all of the many hats you wear so well.  And for all that you do to ensure Quality is at the forefront of what we do.


We are lucky to have someone of your caliber on our team!

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