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HSEQ Leaders Gather Again to Digest the Effects Of AI, Human Essence and How to Futureproof The Profession.

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 year ago

‘The development of AI can easily be seen as a threat to the work we do, our expertise, and our profession. But it’s our emotional intelligence, critical judgement, communication skills and ability to positively influence the people around us that adds true value to what we do.’

Last week saw the second in the series of Beyond HSEQ. Co-created by Shirley Parsons and communication experts, The Speakers Gym, once again brought together leaders from the HSEQ industry who are invested in reflecting, rethinking and, inspired by a better future.

Hosted by SHP and the Safety & Health Expo at their Informa offices in London, the key themes this time focused on the juxtaposition of technological advances and human essence. 

As a follow up from the inaugural event on 29 November 2022, which explored ‘purpose’, that ‘concrete ceiling’ and the need for change in the industry, this time, the emphasis was on fears, threats and opportunities to the industry, such as AI, and how being human is our true value-add. 

Artificial Intelligence

To explore these key themes effectively, two technological experts were invited to take centre stage to discuss the work they do and the role artificial intelligence plays within it.

Andrew Brosnan, Principal Analyst in A.I. and Applied Intelligence at Omdia spoke about the speed at which chatbot AI is quickly increasing. He emphasised areas of AI are nothing new but are however a ‘reflection of reality and an indicator of a new era.’

He focused specifically on the language processing tool ChatGPT and said:

“There are plenty of benefits of using these systems and they are great for using as a starting point. But it would be a mistake to solely rely on them. There is always that concern about reliability.

“When it comes down to it it’s a software, so there will always be that security vulnerability and there’s the potential of rogue elements. However, long-term, it’s too difficult to say right now.

Andrew was also joined by guest speaker Dr Sam Meek, CTO at Helyx, sister company of mapping giants Esri UK, a professional services company working primarily in the defence sector. They’re experts in analysing and making sense of complicated data to enhance decision making in challenging environments. 

Sam, a geospatial technologist with a successful track record in the creation, implementation, and delivery of innovative technology strategies across the defence and space sectors explored the practical side of AI. He said:

“AI is a step change, but not necessarily a replacement for humans. It has many applications in the Defence sector including monitoring of infrastructure using satellite imagery, humanitarian concerns, and much more. A somewhat unique consideration for defence is the challenging environments and conditions in that decisions are made. AI has the potential to increase the speed and accuracy of decision making, which is critical to success.”

However, when asked about potential jobs that could be replaced because of AI in general, Sam said:

“There’s something about talking to people. It’s the human element that’s important.”

AI within HSEQ.

The Speakers Gym Co-Founder and Director Chris Wickenden opened the first workshop and asked leaders to discuss what they perceived as the threat / fear of AI.

Using the ‘hand to power tools’ analogy, Health Safety and Human Factors Consultant Bridget Leathley, spoke about the industry getting ‘left behind’ and the need to ‘encourage OSH professionals to skill up.’

James Hymers, National Discipline Director, Pick Everard also believes: ‘society needs to be more intelligent, and we need all need to get smarter.’

The discussion turned to becoming too reliant on the way things are currently done and the fear of getting things wrong.

Beyond HSEQ Steering Group Member and Freelance Safety and Risk Management consultant, coach and auditor Jerry Flechais addressed the room and shared his thoughts on discomfort and growth. He said:

“As a profession, we still dwell in fear. However, no growth will come out of position comfort. It’s all about a different level of complexity, a different mode of safety.

“It’s up to us to come up with the perimeters and educate using the best of us, not the worst. Influence is built on trust and understanding. Complexity is nothing to be afraid of, it’s power.”

Trust and intimacy.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”.Theodore Roosevelt.

Using the ‘Trust Equation’, thoughts were then brought back to human essence; trustworthiness is equal to the sum of credibility, reliability and intimacy divided by a person's self-orientation.

This section digested the ‘voice in your head’ and the concept of letting your guard down.

The penultimate workshop was delivered by Jonny de Mallet Morgan FRSA, Chief Vision Officer and Speakers’ Gym Co-Founder, who emphasised ‘intimacy is the gateway.’

This section explored ‘how you want your organisation to feel about you and what behaviours get you there?’

Sally Ford, Director Resilience and Risk at Arqiva said:

“I don’t want to be defined by my job title. I want us, our industry, to be the enabling department, help businesses be successful.”

This was reinforced by Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Quality at Yodel, Reece Cherry: “We should be perceived as normal. We shouldn’t be thought of as different. It’s all about connecting with your team and colleagues.”

Jay Vekaria, Director of HSE & Risk Management at Visa emphasised the need to be ‘authentic’ and that authenticity is the true and intimate substance of being professional; a leader, but also that critical friend.

The afternoon was concluded and summed up by Head of Health, Safety, Environment and Quality at Group Metropolitan, Branch Chair IOSH Chiltern Branch and Steering Group member Kevin Barr:

“It’s time to start doing more, being more challenging, and continuing to care about my profession and the people in it”.

Where Does Beyond HSEQ Go Next…

Shirley Parsons and The Speakers Gym are thrilled Beyond HSEQ will return for its third event later this year and have already confirmed the next ‘think tank’ between members of the Steering Group.

Before that, Jonny and Chris will be joined by panellists James Hymers, Louisa Mead, Sunit Atwal and David Richmond at this year’s Safety and Health Expo on Tuesday 16th May at 12pm in the Keynote Theatre; Transform your communication and break through the concrete ceiling

They’ll explore what’s needed to further elevate the profession and exert the right kind of influence at board level. A hands-on, practical workshop will then follow at the Shirley Parsons Networking Café – you can book your space here.

It’s about being clear on your intent, changing mindsets, and better understanding your audiences’ needs - ultimately building higher levels of trust to inspire deeper change.’

The Beyond HSEQ team are also thrilled with the brilliant feedback they have received so far. Although it’s still just the second event that’s been hosted, the feedback of steering members and those who have attended, (whether to both events or for the first time), help shape the movement and the future of Beyond and the industry.

Group SHEQ Director, Renew Holdings plc, Lawrence Ling:

“Just had an excellent afternoon curtesy of The Speakers’ Gym™ and Shirley Parsons at the very impressive offices of SHP Informa Safety & Health Expo. This was the second of these events, specifically designed for senior HSEQ leaders to meet, learn, reflect, rethink and inspire. All in all, an excellent, informative and thought-provoking afternoon with insights I can bring back to the business.  Thank you to the Beyond HSEQ team - looking forward to event number three already!”

Greg Duncan, Group Health & Safety, BGEN Ltd :

“I attended my first Beyond HSEQ event at the fantastic Informa building at Blackfriars London. A really well thought out and put together event with some fantastic speakers and topics, #ai being one of them.”

You can follow the Beyond HSEQ conversation and feedback on LinkedIn.

To find out more or to express your interest in attending the Safety & Health Expo workshop, contact us below.