SHE (Safety, Health and Environment) & Risk Specialist for Orica
Who do you work for?
I work for Orica Limited in the Risk and Assurance team at one of the Continuous Manufacturing plants. My role is Safety, Health & Environment and Risk Specialist. Orica is the world’s largest provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems to the mining, quarrying, oil and gas and construction markets, a leading supplier of sodium cyanide for gold extraction, and a specialist provider of ground support services in mining and tunnelling.
Where is your job based?
I am based out of Orica’s Deer Park site in western Melbourne.
What does your job involve?
I’m focused on process safety, risk management, culture improvement and engineering solutions. My job involves a range of activities such as conducting risk studies, leading incident investigations, managing and minimising risk and reviewing case studies. My job also involves project management, where I get to rollout interesting initiatives. My role is dynamic and can sometimes be very hands-on. It can involve issuing work permits for serious jobs on the site or managing emergency responses if there is an incident on-site.
My role almost always involves working with the site leadership and technical teams to fix engineering or software issues. The fun part of my role is that I get to interact with a lot of team members, as I work to improve the safety culture on the site.
Why did you choose to work in this sector?
Being a chemical engineer, I always wanted to work in the chemical or manufacturing industry. I have always been impressed by big vessels, furnaces and prill towers – how they work within the overall manufacturing process. So, joining the mining services company which is manufacturing its own chemicals was like a dream come true.
I studied Health, Safety and Environmental during my engineering degree. I always wanted to make a difference within HSE by improving culture and mindset within Chemical Manufacturing. I worked in an Operations role in the past, but I moved to this specialist role, which aligns better with my preferences and career goals. In my role I actively work with the site leadership as well as operations and maintenance teams.
What is the most rewarding part of your current job?
Being a SHE & Risk Specialist, I get an opportunity to influence and bring about positive cultural and SHES improvements on site.
Also, because of my role, I network and participate in professional events, interact with interesting and diverse professionals, but what I enjoy most is interacting with the community and industry groups, because this really makes you feel like you have a sense of purpose.
What has been one of your recent achievements?
This year, I developed a Behaviour Based Safety Observation program for my organisation and got it approved to be designed into a cloud-based application so that quality of the behaviour-based leadership interactions can be evaluated by an algorithm. This helps my organisation to improve the safety culture by evaluating the quality of safety interactions automatically. We had tried machine learning in the past, but it did not work, and this this initiative will be able to deliver the required results.
I am proud of this initiative as once the application is complete it will have a larger and sustained impact across the organisation to improve the overall behaviour-based safety program within the business.
What is the most challenging part of your current job?
Sometimes, creating a change involves a lot of influencing and working with the team members and obtaining everyone’s consent, and getting them on board. This can sometimes be quite challenging.
What do you hope to do in the future?
In the future, I hope to lead a team for a larger plant site or be in a global role and helping multiple sites with risk and assurance processes.
What are some of the benefits of your job?
The benefits of my job are flexible work hours, independence to manage my tasks, empowerment to execute changes and manage my budget for the site. Personal training and development is provided and being in a senior leadership role are benefits. I work in a smaller site team which means that I get to learn and develop a range of skills.
What training did you have for this job?
I have studied advanced mathematics, physics and chemistry during my Secondary Schooling in Abu Dhabi. My family then lived in Pakistan and I studied same subjects during my Senior Secondary at high school in Lahore. I completed a Chemical Engineering degree at University of the Punjab, and then did an internship at PARCO Refinery Complex in Multan and then worked at Engro, which is an Ammonia-Urea Fertiliser Manufacturing complex at Daharki as a Graduate Trainee Engineer within the operations team.
I then got the opportunity to work within the Process Safety and Risk Management team with a company called DuPont in the USA. There I received training in several safety and risk management processes. I also obtained Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics Qualification from the US, a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Safety and Environment Management. At this point, a few of my friends had already moved to the Australia for better opportunities and I decided settle in Australia rather than US and ended obtaining a Diploma in Work Health and Safety in Australia.
I then progressed my career by becoming Associate Safety Professional (ASP® credentials from Board of Certified Safety Professionals, USA).
Through my career, I have been fortunate to have mentors who have taught me a variety of soft skills, such as humility, communication, problem solving and leadership which are really important in any role.
Who were your role models, inspiration to choose this career?
Did you always want to be a Chemical Engineer?
I did not have a career-based role model. My role models were people who inspired me in the way they led their lives and excelled in their fields. So, during different phases of my life, I had different role models.
During my early years, Leonardo da Vinci had an influence on me. I was really inspired by his works. Given that he was a polymath, he did remarkable works in many different fields, but I was particularly inspired by his works in architecture, drawing, painting, science, mathematics, engineering and the most important of all invention.
I then was inspired by Ville Valo’s works during my late teens and early 20’s. He was the lead singer of a Finnish band and is a painter as well as a music producer. I was impressed with his career and have followed him over a period of years. The way he broke barriers and the stereotypes of Western Europe, established a new genre in music, his business acumen, engagement strategies as well as becoming an international act after years of hard work is something I get inspired from.
During my professional years, I had a mentor as a role model from whom I learned analytical and communication skills as well as societal awareness. Now a days, I have Elon Musk as my role-model.
Essentially, I always had role models who nurtured my needs and at the same time inspired me to become better at certain skills, be it creativity, hard-work or being multi-skilled. Having said this, I always wanted to be an engineer as I was very intrigued to see and learn how things work. I was always more interested in dismantling and understanding the mechanics of things rather than using them.
Why is mathematics important in your job?
I found that mathematics has been really important for me since the beginning. Whenever I had an action plan for my studies I would always start with mathematics as I believed that it is one of the fundamental subjects for a lot of career paths.
I use a lot of basic mathematic techniques during my job. I also use the principles of probability, statistics and finance amongst numerous other techniques on an on-going basis.
How do you use digital technologies in your job?
I use various software packages on day-to day-basis and then some specialised ones for design and analysis. It is very important to learn digital technologies as the future really is about digitisation and being online. In today’s world, things get a load easier if one is technologically savvy.
What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?
My advice is that students should get exposure to various career paths to start off with. Look at different aspect of how professions work and interact or overlap with other professions. One of the best pathways available is engineering as it broadens your mind, it always remains interesting once you are in your career and you understand different aspects of life in a better way. Having the right knowledge is very important so you can make the right choices.
Also, engage in projects and activities outside your curriculum during your schooling so you can gain skills and traits which you would be picking later in life. Having interests other than academics is very important.
My advice would also be for students who move across borders or migrate between countries. I have experienced 4 relocations including 2 cross country in my life. One of the challenges I faced while relocating was about norms and perceptions, what you have learnt at one location sometimes is completely different to what you get exposed to at another, be it societal norms, local slang or beliefs. When I relocated from UAE to Pakistan, it was a cultural shock because Pakistan was culturally so diverse and different. I had to adapt to the completely new world and somehow gel-in. When I moved to Australia, it was like unlearning and re-learning everything altogether. Relocation always comes with challenges. Sometimes it is difficult initially, but you do get adjusted ultimately. You have to make sure you are resilient and develop skills to be able to adapt to new environments. Don’t let language be a barrier for you and don’t ever feel intimidated. Be vocal about how you feel and always share so you are understood.
Be curious, be a little naughty but most importantly define core values and give importance to the societal values as well.
What are some of your interests outside work?
Now a days I am trying to develop an online tool to put together and execute travel itineraries. I am also trying to link this to a 3D maps platform.