Life Lessons: Getting into Safety

The first in the series of Life lessons with Professor Ike: Getting into Safety

I get asked all the time how I got into the Safety profession. I also get asked by many to mentor and coach them. So I have decided to share my story so people understand that getting into your dream profession whether it is safety or not is never easy. Maybe easy for some but generally isn’t easy. It requires lots of commitment and sacrifices. HUGE SACRIFICES!

I was supposed to study Medicine.

That was my original goal. I studied Biomedical Science with the hope of moving straight to medicine after graduation. In my 2nd year of Uni, I knew that was not to be. Glory! We would go on field trips to the hospitals. I couldn’t stand the sight of blood or being in a hospital environment. Hell no!

One day after graduating, I saw a job vacancy for Health and Safety Inspector. It looked interesting. Since taking that microbiology module at Uni, I have somehow developed into a clean and taking caution freak. To top it up, I watched Deliver us from Eva (the environmental safety Chick). My fate was sealed. It had to be Health and Safety and off I went and applied for a masters in it.

In 2009, I attended Brunel University for a year studying for my masters in Occupational Health and Safety Management. It was a tough hustling unforgettable year but I excelled even doing my own research with Migrant workers who worked at McDonald’s, interviewing them and trying to learn the risks they faced due to their status as immigrants. Were they more exposed to dangers? Was it as a result of their background, culture or failings from their UK employers? I shared my findings in this post.

And so my journey into Safety began.

Did you know I had to volunteer for 18 months just to get my feet in the door of Safety? I never got paid. I however got lunch and transport. How many youths can do that today? You have to do what you have to do my dear youth as long as it is legal and will get you what you want.

Getting into safety

One day I got the call that changed everything.

The company I volunteered with called and offered me paid work without an interview, without all the serenren (all the stress that comes with interviewing, recruitment, HR and starting the job). I started immediately.

Voluteering can actually give you the experience you need to go on that CV. Yes I volunteered for 18 months before I actually got a paid role in Safety. Is that somethng you wll consider? Today the story is different and alot sweeter.… Click To Tweet

This was in the UK where things are tough and nobody throws money around or will even dash you one tiny penny. (Truth be told, some uncles were super helpful). That year was a huge struggle since I was also doing my master’s and working in social care/housing at the same time.

I have always been one to do/go above and beyond. That’s how God created me. Can’t help myself

As a volunteer I only went in once a week as I also had to attend Uni for my masters and my other job working in social care. I thought once a week really wasn’t enough but they appreciated it. Working in social care combined with schooling and volunteering, one would expect me to slack in at least 1 or 2 of these roles. Right? Well I didn’t. As a hustler concern.

Schooling and working is one of the toughest things a young person can do. Without focus, you will suck at both. One day I will share my experience of schooling and working in a foreign land – the good, the bad and the ugly.

When I got the call offering me paid work, the lady Margaret said to me that they had just sacked 2 of the safety officers and they wanted me to take on their work. She said “you do more in 1 day than both of them do in a week”. Say what?! Who me?

Then I remembered how one of them would take me out to “clients”. I was always happy to go with him. I wanted to learn by fire by force. It was only when he asked me to do invoices that I realised the clients were his private ones. He was using office time to do his personal business. No wonder he sucked at his job and got the sack!

In 2013, we were made redundant.

Yes. Our funders were backing out so they couldn’t afford to keep all of us.

I went freelance and started blogging about safety. Wriing those articles for or magazines at work wasn’t a waste of time plus I improved on my writing a great deal! That simple act of managing my own workload, creating events and work for the company to keep me busy and learning, was the real force behind me going into consultancy. Somehow I was convinced I could do it.

While working at the London Hazards Centre (where I volunteered), I had total control of my work and only did a monthly report to the board. I would plan training events for the company, send out emails and get people to attend. That provided me with the ability to manage myself and my workload. It also helped me be independent and build my confidence. I knew then I could achieve whatever I wanted. I knew I had so much to offer.

How many of you can go all out for your employer? If you cannot give your best while under someones employ, you won’t build yourself and you wont be able to even give yourself the best because you didn’t work for it.

People ask how I am able to think the way I do and make such decisions.

I should say “thanks” to my mother for raising me right. Somehow her ways rubbed off on me. Not sure how since most of my early adult life was spent thousands of miles away but early pikin (child) upbringing probably did it. Never too early to start raising children right. Don’t wait till they have gone strong head.

Step into my or my mother’s office, you will struggle to tell who is boss. When you get that desired job, it is important to stay level headed. Many safety professionals are not. Safety is an important job and no safety professional is that special or indispensable.

If you can be faithful in small things (positions), you can be trusted with bigger things. Why should a new or bigger position make you change who you are or your values? Click To Tweet

My story – I have kept it short and to the point. Hope it has inspired you. Start small dear youth. I paid my dues in a tough uncomfortable undesirable-by-many way. It was my choice. Can you make that choice?

Live simple. Dream massive. Start small. Grow. Thrive.

P.S. You migt find this article I wrote on things to do if you are new in safety very helpful.

Peace out!

© Professor Ike