Home>Industry Update>Company News>Practitioner's viewpoint - March 21
Home>Industry Update>Recognition & Reward>Practitioner's viewpoint - March 21

Practitioner's viewpoint - March 21

25 January 2021

As the nationwide lockdown continues, Louise Ward takes this opportunity to talk about the charitable programme for health and safety professionals that she has become involved with that has provided a light at the end of the tunnel.

THROUGH THE dark days of the pandemic, the hard work, long hours, isolation, tragedy and helplessness, I’ve had a little nugget of positivity which has helped me to focus on the future beyond COVID. I’ve been supporting the development of a programme which will help to bring new ideas and fresh thinking to our profession, at a time when we have never been more important to business. 

One of the best things about a career in health and safety is the opportunity for ongoing learning. But the learning curve has been particularly steep over the last 12 months as COVID-19 has required health and safety professionals to develop new knowledge of virology, epidemiology and infection control in order to keep employees safe and businesses operating wherever possible. 

Never has our profession been more needed, or more respected. There’s light at the end of the tunnel now, with the vaccination programme underway, but I think it’s unlikely that the world of work will ever be the same. There is now much talk of the ‘new normal’. I’m confident that health and safety professionals will have a key role to play in supporting businesses and employees as they adjust to a new, more flexible, way of working, but that will require fresh thinking, new ideas and innovation, to support a more flexible, mobile and devolved approach to work. 

COVID lockdown provided an opportunity for reflection, and I decided that I would like to use my experience to support other professionals as we prepare to meet these challenges.

Early in 2020 I became aware of Safety4Good, a fantastic charitable programme coordinated by Principal People, which aims to promote the health and safety profession, attract and develop new talent and offer experienced professionals an opportunity to provide pro bono support to charity and third sector organisations. Over the last few months, I have been working with them on a new programme to support the development of future health and safety leaders.

I’ve never had a mentor myself, but I’m actively involved in mentoring both inside and outside my organisation, and have seen the tangible benefits that it can deliver for individuals. Personally, I really value my network of trusted peers. I believe that this becomes increasingly important as you transition to more senior roles, taking on a wider remit which stretches the boundaries of your expertise. I was really keen to explore opportunities to link mentoring with networking, and the S4G team shared my vision, pulling together a small working group to develop a pilot programme.

We rolled out the Safety4Good Future Leaders scheme in the autumn, selecting two groups of four future leaders from a large pool of applicants using an innovative video tool to match applicants with leaders and ensure a good mix of experience, styles and personalities in each group. It’s proved hugely successful and has expanded rapidly with many new groups now being supported by experienced health, safety and sustainability leaders. The programme blends mentoring with networking to help candidates prepare to move through their career from delivery to management and then leadership positions, and focusses particularly on the non-technical skills that are so key to this transition.

It’s been such a privilege to be involved. I’ve been working with four fantastic professionals, to explore and discuss the issues and challenges, ideas and opportunities that they are encountering, and to share my thoughts and experiences with them. The sessions are really relaxed and informal, we’ve formed a close bond as a group, supporting, encouraging, reassuring and challenging each other. I have gained as much from the sessions as I have contributed to them, and it has provided a much needed source of positivity through the dark months of lockdown.

It’s quite humbling to work with such bright, enthusiastic and innovative individuals, who are so committed to protecting people and promoting business success. They are the future of our profession and are keen to drive positive change which will enable and promote safety, wellbeing and sustainability as a core components of a new approach to work. 

I’m proud to be part of the Safety4Good Future Leaders programme. I believe that it will support our profession as we continue to develop and evolve to meet whatever challenges the future has in store for us. Each of us is amazing, unique and adaptable. By supporting each other in unlocking our potential we can make a real positive difference, and help the UK to recover from this dreadful pandemic.

If you would like to find out more about the Safety for Good Future Leaders programme, please contact info@principalpeople.co.uk.

Louise Ward is the health, safety and environment director at Siemens. For more information visit, www.siemens.com/mobility