Starting a New Role During COVID

We recently took some time out to talk with Monima Harrison, who took up the challenge of starting as HSQE Director at Arcus FM, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Starting a New Role During COVID

Here he discusses his big wins so far, and his experience of working with Shirley Parsons. 

What have been your key challenges since starting your new role? 

It goes without saying that starting a new job remotely during the pandemic has been the biggest challenge.  No one trains you for that!  Fortunately, the induction arrangements at Arcus FM have been excellent, simple things like having a laptop, phone and passwords a week before starting made a positive difference.  I also had the extra benefit of a thorough handover; this made my first four weeks much easier. 

At Arcus, I quickly realised that we have a mature safety culture with our distributed workforce of circa 4,500 colleagues across the UK.  A challenge is ensuring there is equal billing across Health, Safety, Quality and Environment.  That parity is a necessity, and I am working smart to overcome this challenge. 

My focus has been building and sustaining working relationships with internal and external stakeholders.  I assumed this would be difficult because most of it was done virtually.  I must admit that has not been the case and it’s evidently down to colleagues in the business and the Arcus community pulling together during these challenging times.  My team and peers have been welcoming and have quickly gotten used to my honest, consistent and adaptive communication approach.  External stakeholders like our clients have been understanding and I have been able to maintain my visibility and influence where appropriate.  

Being a leader is both a privilege and a responsibility I choose, so I need to have this type of communication with my team where I can be accessible, consistently addressing any concerns that may arise. 

What have you been able to achieve since you have joined? 

  • Several achievements and many more to come:
  • Significant efficiencies, profile enhancements and continuous improvements attained via adoption of Change Management SSCC model. 
  • Established solid trust relationships with peers. It’s essential that HSQE and Operations operate collaboratively.
  • Restructured my team to align and best support the overall business strategy –  recruiting and bolstering existing team with new people who have a wide range of behavioural safety experience.
  • Ongoing implementation of risk management software for process simplicity.
  • Supporting implementation of strategies on supporting our colleagues during these challenging times.
  • As a part of the Diversity and Inclusion working group, I’m supporting in developing effective strategies.

Engaging Arcus colleagues via Live Yammer events with our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Strategy Officer to discuss/answer all questions HSQE related.

All these achievements have not been singular and have required a collective joined up team effort.  As the expression goes, ’there is no ‘I’ in teamwork.’

How have your achievements helped Arcus FM to achieve its goals?  

I have been with Arcus for nine months now and in that space of time, progress has been made in the sphere of HSQE and beyond.

  • During these challenging times, there is a need to be efficient in our approach to delivering value in what I and my team do.  We have adopted a blended approach to our ways of working.  Furthermore, we continue to move beyond the traditional role of HSQE and adopting the proactive risk management mindset, thereby, ensuring we are a high performing function and be best in class internally and externally.
  • By leading, supporting, advising guiding our operations team, they continue to deliver an award-winning service to all our clients.
  • Implementing industry-leading software across the business which will ensure we align with one of our corporate values which is ‘Do it Simply’.  This singular software platform system will replace four existing systems to cover various modules including: tools/equipment accident/incident, audits & inspections, risk assessment & COSHH.
  • Recognising the long-term impact of the pandemic and having a series of engagement activities and tools to support all colleagues. Implementing, Wellness Action Plans, a series of planned wellbeing and engagement initiatives across the Arcus estate.
  • As part of the Diversity and Inclusion working group, we have finalised the initial learning and development programmes for colleagues and managers.  Our CEO has endorsed the strategy which will be rolled out alongside the programmes.

What was your experience of Shirley Parsons service as a candidate? 

Shirley Parsons’ service has been exceptional.  When I returned from Saudi Arabia in 2017, I had a contract role for several months and then received a call from the team for a Head of Health & Safety role.  The communication from the onset was superb and I was updated throughout the process.  A memorable moment was when the recruiter I was dealing with was not around and I received a personal call from Shirley herself explaining what the next steps would be.  

How does it compare to other recruitment businesses?  

From my point of view and based on personal experience, I would rate Shirley Parsons as best in class. With the personal touch and attention to detail, it’s a fully bespoke experience.  The team genuinely help you find the right role. I had 1-2-1 conversations, so they understood my requirements and expectations, then they tailored these to their clients. It’s all about quality rather than quantity. I found their constructive feedback after each interview very insightful.  All of this is what sets them apart and allows them to continue to thrive in this industry.

Have you any further comments and would you recommend Shirley Parsons to others?  

I would strongly recommend Shirley Parsons to my peers and those who are new to the HSQE industry. As an organisation that operates in a niche market, they certainly have the experience and would go the extra mile to ensure the candidate or a client secures the perfect role. 

About Arcus FM: Arcus is an award-winning facilities management company driven by over 4,500 people. With operations across the UK, we bring together industry-leading technology, unique skills, and a wealth of sector-specific experience that simplifies the complex for our clients

Arcus FM site 
Contact Liam Tiddy - liam.tiddy@shirleyparsons.com
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