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Interview with Founding Chair of ASSE’s Kuwait Chapter

Ashok Garlapati, IPS assistant administrator, recently interviewed Fadhel Al-Ali, the founding chair or ASSE’s Kuwait Chapter, to learn more about the Chapter’s successes.

AG: ASSE’s Kuwait Chapter has achieved tremendous growth since its inception in 2000. What are your thoughts regarding its growth over the past eight years?

(FAA): I am very much satisfied. I feel like my child (ASSE) has attained her growth of eight years with many success feathers in her crown. I am proud to state that the Kuwait Chapter is the largest ASSE Chapter outside of the U.S. As such, I am happy that our activities are increasing rapidly, which helps us meet the objectives of the Chapter and the Society.

AG: What are some of the Kuwait Chapter’s most significant achievements?

FAA: As mentioned, the Kuwait Chapter is the largest active Chapter outside of the U.S. with a strong membership base of more than 475. Our Chapter has achieved Chapter Star status consecutively in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Our Chapter members also entered in the President’s Court of Membership Honor Roll by sponsoring more than 100 members.

We have successfully conducted four professional developmental conferences with the support of our voluntary members. We follow the concept of “think globally, act locally.”With this concept, we conduct many technical meetings for our members, subsidized training programs, professional development conferences as well as Society outreach programs. Meeting our members’ needs is our primary motto, and this helps increase our membership strength.

Further, the recent initiative of ASSE’s Global Taskforce to implement staggered membership fees is one of the main reasons for an increase in the Kuwait Chapter’s membership strength.

AG: What are the Kuwait Chapter’s secrets to these successes?

FAA: I feel the success of any voluntary society depends on its members. I know for sure that it is not a one-man show. I strongly believe that the secret behind the success of our Chapter is our vision, objectives, key performance system and teamwork. In addition to this, I would like to emphasize the professionalism shown by our executive committees and their dedicated members in addressing any issue, whether it is a conference or a technical matter.

AG: The Chapter has organized training programs and technical meetings on many key issues. Do you involve corporate companies and/or governmental and private-sector companies in and around Kuwait?

FAA: Yes, we involve them during our major symposia and conferences. In fact, most of our Chapter programs are sponsored by local companies. Ultimately, corporate companies in the oil and gas sector meet their social objectives through our Chapter by sponsoring many programs. Further, to enhance the involvement of professionals from senior management, we invite them as keynote speakers during the technical meetings and ask them to present on SH&E topics, where they feel comfortable. Still, we must do more to involve private-sector companies in our Chapter activities.

AG: What are your expectations from Kuwait’s private-sector companies relative to meeting the Chapter’s objectives?
FAA: ASSE’s objective is to organize activities in the SH&E field, which can benefit not only the members, but also the Kuwaiti community as a whole. I feel all private-sector companies in and around Kuwait should join together with ASSE and make use of the expertise available in our Chapter for protecting people, property and the environment. We also have an excellence award exclusively for the private sector to reward better-performing companies in the area of SH&E. I am certain this will help increase private-sector companies’ involvement.

AG: You have been associated with ASSE’s Kuwait Chapter for some time. Do you feel that your association with ASSE helps you in your job as manager, health and safety, for Kuwait Petroleum Corporation?

FAA: Without a doubt.  I am confident that my association with ASSE helps me in my job in terms of updates in the SH&E field, networking with other SH&E professionals and reputation with governmental bodies. Together, all of these and more help me directly and indirectly meet my job challenges.

AG: Are you aware that ASSE’s practice specialties provide the specific requirements of members working in these disciplines?

FAA: Most of our Chapter members are not aware of all ASSE resources. We need more cooperation and regular updates on ongoing programs by ASSE. We have recently seen some good communication after our Chapter was brought under Region VI, and this is improving our communication channel. This also helped us participate in NAOSH poster competitions and the Safety Professional of the Year, Diversity and Chapter Star awards. Ashok, your participation in the Global Taskforce has really brought the Kuwait Chapter into the international focus, and I am sure your association with IPS will further avail more resources to our members.
 
AG: Thank you. What issues is the Kuwait Chapter focusing on to meet local regulatory requirements?

FAA: I believe we are doing fine. As far as the scope for improvement is concerned, it is an ongoing process. As you know, we are determined to carry out more and more programs. Most importantly, we want to establish a regular contact with ASSE’s headquarters and avail resources to Kuwait Chapter members. We will progress well in the years to come.

AG: What major obstacles and challenges does the Kuwait Chapter face?

FAA: The major challenges we face today are fewer Kuwaiti nationalities in the Chapter membership base and our Chapter’s financial strength. We try to attract Kuwaiti engineers, but their response is not what we expected. Regarding financial support, we depend primarily on the professional development conferences.
 
AG: The Kuwait Chapter will hold its 5th International Professional Development Conference in March 2009 in the State of Kuwait. What are your expectations from ASSE members in general and from IPS in particular?

FAA: We invite all ASSE members from around the globe to participate in our conference by submitting papers, circulating information among their companies/contacts and providing wider publicity for our conference. Conference information is available at www.assekuwait.org and www.assekuwaitconference.com. We would also like IPS members to attend and speak at our conference.

In summary, I would like to thank you and Jack Fearing, IPS Administrator, for giving me the opportunity to share the Kuwait Chapter’s success with IPS members. I would also like to request that you assist us in our effort to publicize our 2009 conference among ASSE members.

Fadhel Al- Ali

Fadhel Al-Ali is the founding chair of ASSE’s Kuwait Chapter and manager, health and safety, for Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. He has more than 30 years of experience in health, environment, safety, fire and industrial security, mainly in the petroleum sector.

The Kuwait Chapter began in 2000 with ten members and presently has 475 members. It is the largest ASSE Chapter outside the U.S.

Al-Ali was instrumental in obtaining the affiliation and patronage of the Kuwait Society of Engineers in establishing the Kuwait Chapter. He is the channel between the Kuwait Chapter and the Kuwait Society of Engineers and other governmental agencies in the State of Kuwait. He successfully led the Kuwait Chapter in conducting four professional developmental conferences, and preparations are underway for the 5th Professional Development Conference in March 2009. He continues to provide leadership and acts as an advisory function to the executive committee.

Al-Ali is a professional member of ASSE, a member of the Royal Society for Accident Prevention and a member of the International Fire Supervisors Association. He holds a bachelor of science degree in fire and safety engineering from Eastern Kentucky University and a diploma in occupational health and hygiene from Texas State Technical Institute.