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September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - September 2014

2014- ASSE President Patricia M. Ennis, CSP, ARM

Lifelong Learning

Ever since I was young, I have loved to learn. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed the excitement of discovering the next new bit of information. Even today, each time I learn something new I discover 10 other things I want to know more about.

When I think about my career in safety, I can definitely see the influence of this love for learning—whether it was earning the CSP and ARM designations, completing a master’s degree in organizational leadership or attending a wide range of ASSE professional development events over the years. Each of these experiences has helped me understand current trends and develop new areas of competence. Collectively, these activities have helped me improve my personal effectiveness and increase my organizational influence.

From Technical Advisor to Influencer

Technical competence will always be the cornerstone of the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession, but being able to influence an organization’s direction and performance has become essential to our success. For our profession to thrive, we must be viewed as trusted business partners who can effectively manage a wide range of risks.

To achieve this, we must continuously add new skill sets related to business, communication and leadership. These skills can help us understand the internal and external business climate and business needs, and will enable us to more effectively communicate a vision for the future. Applying these skills will also help us change how our profession is perceived by business leaders, decision makers and the general public.

Well-known management expert Ken Blanchard once said, "The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority." High-performing OSH professionals understand the importance of learning and applying effective techniques and strategies to influence key constituencies.

There is a wealth of research on the science of influencing others. One great source is Robert Cialdini, the author of the best-selling book, Influence, who has spoken at several ASSE events. Another is author Daniel Pink, who says in his latest book, To Sell Is Human, "People are now spending about 40% of their time at work engaged in nonsales selling—persuading, influencing and convincing others" (p. 34). To successfully engage with our leadership team and become influential members of our organizations, we must have strong business fundamentals and effective interpersonal skills.

ASSE: Your Continuing Education Partner

So where do we go to learn and develop these skills? ASSE offers several programs designed specifically to meet this need. These include seminars such as "Becoming a Great Leader" and "Realizing Your Leadership Potential." In addition, the Executive Program in Safety Management and the Global Safety Management Certificate Program provide an opportunity for OSH professionals to sharpen their business acumen and develop a global vision that is a must in today’s world.

ASSE also delivers skill-building courses that teach us how to influence leaders and key decision makers. Seminars such as "Establishing Your Place in the C-Suite" and the upcoming symposium, "Energizing Your Safety Management Program," contain content that aims to help OSH professionals increase interaction with and gain greater recognition from senior leaders. Beyond these in-person courses, ASSE offers a selection of virtual learning options as well. Please take some time to explore ASSE’s many educational options (you can learn more at and consider expanding your education outlook beyond your normal area of practice.

Continuous learning and education propel us, in our lives and in our careers. There simply is no better path to take on our journey to becoming effective leaders and organizational influencers.

Patricia M. Ennis, CSP, ARM


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2014 - ASSE President Patricia M. Ennis, CSP, ARM

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