Home >A day in the life of James Mansbridge

A day in the life of James Mansbridge

10 March 2019

Each issue HSM puts the spotlight on a health and safety worker by speaking to a member of the British Safety Council about the challenges and rewards of working in this field. This time we talk to James Mansbridge.

What is your job, and where do you work?

I’m the head of digital learning at the British Safety Council. Digital Learning encompasses everything from more traditional e-learning to point of need digital resources and virtual and augmented reality training. And everything in between.

What motivates you to get out of bed on a work day?

I would describe myself as a lifelong learner and being able to share my passion for learning is a big motivator. There is huge variety in what I do meaning there really is never a dull moment. My job can be quite hectic and subject to last minute change, but I thrive in that sort of environment and love that there is always a sense of the unknown about what we are going to do and how we’re going to get there. I often say that I perform at my best when I feel as though I’m being chased by zombies. So, the zombies are a great motivator too.

Other than all that, it’s the people I work with. Even if I’m not in the best of moods, there’ll always be someone who can put a smile on my face.

What does a typical day entail for you?

There really is no such thing as a typical day. Of course, there are the repetitive parts of the job – checking and replying to emails, running reports on sales figures – but that’s not what makes the job unique. 

One day I may be out with the team doing a location shoot, for instance a recent trip to Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium to film Olympic athletes as part of our Resilience product. Another day I may be visiting a customer site taking photos, measuring, and drawing diagrams ready to create a virtual reality version of the place. I frequently work with our marketing and sales teams, sending out offers and trials of our products or tying our products into bigger pieces such as Mental Health Awareness Week. 

The constant variety is one of the most attractive aspects of the job.

What is the top priority on your work agenda at the moment?

There are currently two things vying for top spot. Firstly, there’s our suite of mental health resources which are constantly increasing and evolving. Through the use of digital resources, we have been able to engage with a much broader range of people and at a time and place that suits them. Initially, there was a battle to be won to convince people that mental health and wellbeing training could be delivered using digital tools. Our feedback tells us that it can, and it is.

The second priority is staying abreast of changes in technology that enable us to reach a wider audience and better engage with the people whom we reach. Technology is developing at such a rate that in the near future only a small minority of training will be done in bricks and mortar centres.

What skills are key to your role?

There are several, and I’m not saying I’m a master at them all. 

Communication is one of the most important, and that includes being able to listen as well as articulating thoughts and ideas. Other skills include being adaptable, open, flexible, calm, and able to take things in one’s stride. There is also the need to be strategic, tactical, and operational at the same time.

Being responsive to criticism is really important. Feedback is one of the most valuable tools that we have at our disposal and we need to listen to it all – even if it it’s hard to take or we disagree with it.

In terms of hard skills, these are themed around education and IT. A bit of coding, some video editing, photography and graphics work, as well as being able to write reasonably well.

What route did you take to working in the field of health and safety?

I took the “by chance” route. My background is in education and I worked as a classroom teacher overseas for more than ten years. During that time, I saw how digital resources and tools could make teaching more engaging and more inclusive.

Back in the UK, I decided to pursue a career in digital learning and that’s how I ended up at the British Safety Council. In the four years that I’ve been with them, I’ve soaked up a lot of health, safety and wellbeing knowledge, to the extent that is has changed the way I think and act in certain situations.

What advice would you give a person thinking of working in the health and safety industry?

Do your research, talk to people, ask lots of questions, and try to form an honest opinion about what it is you’re thinking of doing. Other than that, go for it. The more effort you put in, the more reward you’ll get out.

When did you last laugh in work? What made you laugh?

I’d worry if a day went and I didn’t laugh. I’m lucky to work with people who have a great sense of fun and who also enjoy what they do. As I mentioned previously, being able to have fun and share a joke with colleagues is one of the biggest motivators. It’s also good for my mental health.

The last thing that made me laugh out loud was getting distracted on my way to the toilet earlier today. I ended up walking into another office, forgetting why I had walked in there, and saying loudly, “Oh, this isn’t the toilet”. I then promptly left. I received some rather strange looks.

What is the best part of working in your field?

Getting great feedback, seeing those lightbulb moments, and knowing that you’ve helped people to learn, which in turn keeps people safe and, in some cases, alive.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to health and safety at work currently?

Dealing mental health and wellbeing issues. If the battle for health and safety is largely won in the UK, it’s only just beginning when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.

A lot or organisations simply aren’t joined up when it comes to wellbeing, despite the fact that more working days are now lost to mental ill-health than physical ill-health. 

James Mansbridge is head of digital learning at the British Safety Council. For more information, visit www.britsafe.org