It turns out I’m not crazy!
This week I was invited to attend the inaugural OHS Strategy Summit, hosted by SE-Corp at the Sheraton Mirage, Gold Coast. The event was a gathering of senior OHS leaders and thinkers from around the country where the nations top burning safety issues could be identified, discussed and plans made for the future.
On arrival at the Mirage I was greeted by the terrific SE-Corp staff, provided with my personal itinerary and given a run down on how the next three days would work. The first night was a short cocktail gathering in the lounge followed by the gala dinner. As I made my way around the lounge and began meeting the other attendees it began to sink in where I was, I started to feel a little out of my depth after meeting safety managers who had 30,000+ staff in their organizations, managers who had teams of 50+ safety personnel, and people who didn’t really have much of a ‘home’ as they we’re continually in countries like India, Afghanistan and Peru.
At first I thought ‘I probably shouldn’t be here’, but then I though about it, ‘I’m a safety manager looking after 1800+ people, 51 sites, for a national retailer and whilst that doesnt seem like much amongst all of these senior people, I have been considered a leader in my particular specialty to be invited to previous events to talk about my views, maybe I do belong here’.
We moved into the ballroom for dinner, I was seated with some very interesting people and soon began to realize I’m not as strange as I thought I was! These people also had quirky interests in things like premium calculations, using harmonization to influence and enjoying the thrill of developing a critical risk mitigation strategy. I belonged.
Over the three days I heard some fantastic speakers discussing some very thought provoking ideas. The main keynote that made a lot of sense to me was delivered by Elizabeth Tosti of LendLease. Elizabeth spoke about her journey, the challenges she had faced and how she overcame them, with her key message being ‘it’s time to put the EGO’s aside’. Whilst Elizabeth talked I found I understood her very well, the challenges she had faced were much like my own and the way I had approached the challenges was very similar, it felt great to be able to say to myself, I’m doing that too, and knowing I was at least on a tried and tested path of potential success.
The format of the three days was very well thought out, the SE-Corp team absolutely know how to engage attendees and they did just that with a range of panel discussions, key notes, speaker sessions and think tanks.
Mike Walsh of Asciano (if you don’t know who they are click here, I didn’t either until Mike explained) delivered a session on going ‘back to the future’ and focussing on critical risk. Mike had previously been the GM of Safety at Leighton, who had experienced some catastrophic incidents but Mike’s approach to these incidents helped add value not just to the business but the the safety of every individual, and Mike certainly wasn’t about to let a fatality go in vain. I have to admit I was in awe listening to Mikes presentation, the way he approached the issues at Leighton was so simple but ingenious in they way it was devised, developed and delivered. Watching a speaker like Mike was amazing, his approach and his way of thinking was so easy to understand and follow along. I am sure without a doubt that Mike would be an amazing leader to work with.
Over the three days I met some incredible people and had some very insitful discussions. Just to be able to see how everyone else is doing things and get their take on my own situation put things into perspective. Of the people I met over the course of the summit two made a real impression on me.
Keith Hoskins – GM Safety at Metcash. This man has a huge job and incredible responsibilities but is so easy going, relaxed and knowledgable, qualities of a true leader. And Tracey Browne of the Australian Industry Group, a very warm and cheerful lady with an incredible mind. Tracy had been a part of the ‘industry representation’ through the development of the harmonized laws and knew a lot about so many things. I can see she would be a great fit in her role, offering advice and guidance to businesses.
By the end of the three days I left with a lot of new contacts, some interesting ideas, lots of knowledge and a new outlook. On my return back to Harris Scarfe I know I need to change how I am approaching senior management one last time, I need to get the entire business leadership on board, to this point I haven’t been entirely successful and I need to step it up. Harmonization is the key and is so important they understand what it means for each of them, ego’s aside, it’s not about me self promoting, it’s about helping protect each and everyone of my leaders, after all that’s what good soldiers are for!