Were safety and health part of your work responsibilities since the beginning of your career?
I began my career at an industrial compressor plant in Southeast Alabama, working in human resources (HR). In that instance, the safety function was within the HR department. My supervisor, the HR manager, excelled at safety. I was lucky enough that she noticed I took an interest in safety and mentored me. Equally important was the emphasis that our parent company, Enpro Industries, put on safety. I received much training and grew into a dual HR/safety role. I have continued on in this career path and again have found a dual role in Alaska.
What field of study did you start in as a student and if it was not in SH&E initially, what made you change career paths?
I majored in Criminal Justice with a minor in Public Administration at the University of West Florida. I initially wanted to be a conservation officer, but job opportunities were limited. After I found a love of safety through my first job right after college, I began to focus on developing my knowledge in the field. During a break in jobs, I decided to formally pursue a degree in safety. After much deliberation of the available programs, I chose the M.S. through Eastern Kentucky University. I completed the M.S. in Safety, Security and Emergency Management from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in 2011.
Were any previous jobs critical in bringing you to your current position?
Absolutely! My job at Quincy Compressor was critical in my career path. I was lucky enough to be involved with a program that pushed for safety and believed safety was as important as production. The knowledge and training I received while at Quincy really set the groundwork for everything I have done that is safety-related since.
What are some of your most valuable and memorable professional accomplishments?
Completing graduate school is a valuable accomplishment. Being able to work with frontline employees and to build a rapport is what makes my job valuable.
As a health and safety professional, is there anything that sets you apart from others in your approach and/or philosophy to safety and health management?
I do not know that it is unique to me, but a commonly held belief that I identify with is making employees accountable for their actions and “giving them the ball” to get involved with safety. I believe behavior-based training can be an immense step toward a successful safety program. Walking the talk is also essential. Someone is always watching, and they expect those pushing the importance of safety to practice what they preach.
What are the greatest challenges you find in your current position?
Currently, the biggest challenge has been getting employee buy-in. Also, working on reviving the safety program is a challenge. It is a continuous journey.
Throughout the rest of your career, what plans do you have to develop yourself professionally?
I would like to continue to work in a dual HR/safety role. Once I have enough experience, I plan to sit for the CSP. Depending on how HR continues to fit into the equation, I would also like to obtain a PHR designation as well.
How did you initially hear of and join ASSE?
I initially heard about ASSE through my first manager, who was a professional member. I joined at that time, but rejoined as a student last year once I started the program at EKU. ASSE is an excellent resource, both for networking and research. Now that I have become involved with Young Professionals in SH&E, it has made membership in ASSE that much more valuable.
Are you affiliated with any other SH&E organizations?
I am also a member of the National Safety Management Society and the Society for Human Resource Management.