Beyond HSEQ Series Continues with Third Installment on September 18th
Route into HSE.
Jay Vekaria, who has worked in the industry for over 17 years, says he never originally intended to go into HSE. After completing a degree in Business Studies & Human Resource Management, he was then faced with the decision to enter full-time work or continue with further education.
He then came across a MSc in Risk Management. Assuming the course would centre around Business Risk, he enrolled himself. However, on the first day he discovered the course focused on public health and safety and was driven by health and safety and risk management frameworks.
“At the time I remember being lost and confused and wondering what I go myself into, but I thought I would give it a go. After a couple of months, I noticed there were a lot of mature students around me who were professionals in various industries, such as Railway, Construction and Nuclear.”
“I was learning a lot so decided to continue with it, and I’m thankful I did as it opened an amazing world.”
“Although health and safety doesn’t sound fun by textbook, because I was around a group of mature, professional students, they didn’t necessarily have the academic background, so I was able to spend my time in university libraries, understanding the Law and technicalities, and they would give me the experience to apply it, so we did it vice versa.”
Jay explains that he would then spend a couple days a week in construction and rail to get enough experience to produce good academic assignments and coursework, and work collaboratively with his fellow students.
“I’m really grateful. Thanks to that experience and doing the masters, I met some great people, and it opened up my network and helped get my first position. I still keep in contact with those people today.”
Importance of network.
Jay explains that when he first entered the industry, there weren’t many young professionals. Having early connections with Shirley Parsonsand the council, he says they would regularly meet and attend IOSH monthly meetings.
“At the beginning of any career, it’s critical to get fingers in different pies and understand, because you want to be able to draw from all that experience. As I went further into my career, my network started to change more towards mentors and councillors and colleges, so I started reaching out more to senior professionals.”
“The network I still value very much is the academics. During the early stages and further down the line, I would go back to university and deliver lectures to ensure students starting off in the profession had case studies and examples of what I’ve done and how I’ve applied it. So, the value of networks is really important.”
The future of the industry.
Acknowledging the profession attracts general talent, Jay says there’s the belief that it’s a safe route to go into and it doesn’t tend to go through volatile stages.
“Although not great at innovation, health and safety is deemed to be stable and required and for those that join it, it’s a great foundation for a career. The law is always there, and risk management is required.”
After meeting a lot of young professionals in the industry, Jay admits they bring plenty of value and play a part in ‘shaking it up.’
When asked what he thinks it will look like it ten years’ time, he believes it depends where you are in your career and those that are at different stages will have different perceptions.
“For me, I don’t think the title of ‘health and safety will exist.’ There will be more risk managers and more risk management frameworks. I’ve always been an ambassador of technology and I think it will drive the way. AI is playing a big role in this now and I’ve been fascinated by it. In the next 5-6 years, it will take over a lot of the administration and management.
“Whereas professionals in ten years’ time will be drawn more upon for their professional judgements on risk and culture.”
A first in the profession.
Following on from the previous two Beyond HSEQ events which were hosted by James Pomeroy at Arup, and the SHP News team at Informa, Beyond HSEQ: The Hackathon is the first official hackathon in the industry and those attending will be tasked with creating solutions to a real-life problem.
“The purpose of it is to bring your mind. Be completely open-minded and able to tap into the wealth of skills and experience we all have. There will be a problem with a theme, and our aim is to ‘hack away’ and come up with a solution.”
“The aim is to challenge, race, adapt and apply your learning and experience to come up with wonderful content we can talk about. By putting great minds together, we can come up with a great solution.”