"I believe this community can really shape the future of health and safety”
Advice and knowledge from our Future Leaders
Our Future Leaders bring you new and interesting insights on a regular basis including news, opinion pieces and guidance.
"Recently I have been going through my own professional development journey and have become much more self-aware of what is right for me and what I want from the company I am working for and the role I am doing."
Alpa Aghera, IOSH Future Leader
Read Alpa's full story and other Future Leaders stories below.
My career plan was simple – I joined the Army when I was 19 and wanted to stay for as long as I could. Unfortunately, I suffered an injury to my elbow, which resulted in me being medically discharged in 2017.
There had been lots of conversations around accident investigations and incident reports, which sparked my interest in occupational safety and health (OSH). But how viable was an OSH career? I did a course, which initially put me off because it was quite hard. Then I was offered an opportunity as an assistant CDM Manager.
I didn’t realise how hard I’d find being away from home in this first role, and there would be days when I couldn’t fully understand or process what was happening. I hadn’t quite built up the skills of how to deal with different things. Now, those issues have made me better. I didn’t see it is a failure but a learning opportunity.
If you’re new to OSH and there’s a point you’re not so sure on, you can maybe reach out to people you know and trust either in your workplace or the Future Leaders Community. But even if you don’t have someone who can offer advice, you can look at previous guidance offered by your company or on the IOSH website.
After about a year I moved back home, as the work-life balance didn’t suit my situation at the time. I thought I’d find something else easily, but that wasn’t the case. A couple of non-OSH jobs later and I applied for (paid) work experience with the principal contractor on a big project.
For anyone in a similar position, I’d also suggest volunteering to shadow an OSH professional or seeking out a mentor to boost your knowledge and skills.
The work experience was fantastic. If I pictured my perfect scenario when I didn’t have a job, this was above it. After a month, I was offered a permanent role and am now an assistant health and safety adviser. It’s gone from strength to strength. Every day there’s something different going on.
My manager suggested joining IOSH. I’d been building up my CPD on my own and became a Technical Member in 2019. I wanted to achieve Chartered status to make myself the best I could be in terms of qualification and status and was proud to do so in January. To me, it wasn’t a case of how quickly I could get there but about working hard to fill out the boxes correctly, so when I got there I’d be respected by my peers.
With IOSH, you can use your motivation to push on and improve yourself and your knowledge. If you can do this, you can also improve the site and the people around you. That’s really, really important.
My advice to anyone changing career is that your background doesn’t matter as long as you have communication skills. People will engage with you if you engage with them.
For the past two-and-a-half years, I have worked as a health and safety advisor in the energy industry and, on a regular basis, I feel like an imposter.
I suffer from what is known as imposter syndrome. This is when you feel like you don’t have the knowledge, skills or experience to do your job, and often you feel an ‘imposter’ when comparing yourself to colleagues. Sound familiar?
That’s because, without doubt, we have all felt this at some point, be it on day one of our occupational safety and health (OSH) professional journeys or as you progress and take on more responsibility in your career. What is important is to recognise the self-doubt and discomfort imposter syndrome makes us feel and then act upon this.
When I’m suffering from imposter syndrome, all I want to do is take a step back and let someone else manage it. However, it often means I’m just out of my comfort zone and this is when I can learn and grow the most. So, instead of taking a step back we must step forward.
When we step forward, we can be inquisitive and use the opportunity to learn from others. Ask what you think might be the ‘stupid questions’… Why? How? Explain to me?
These simple open questions generate a dialogue of learning, allowing you to develop, but also to share your knowledge and experience, which you might not have thought relevant at first. This open environment of learning, which you create by asking questions, allows for diversity of thought to be aired – this can then give rise to an environment of new thinking and idea generation leading to improved health and safety. Not only are you likely to gain from this interaction but those around you will as well.
Imposter syndrome gives us the opportunity to really concentrate on our competency and career development. Because when I feel like an imposter, it gives me clarity on the specific areas I need to focus my learning and development. This opportunity to prioritise means time taken to do training and-on-the job learning can be more valuable to you and the business.
Just know that you don’t always have to be right and know everything. Often, the best OSH professionals are the ones who ask all the questions. Therefore, embrace your imposter syndrome and see where it takes you.
Learn more about imposter syndrome, including why we experience it and ways we can deal with it, at the IOSH Career Hub. Sign up to take advantage of this free member benefit. Not a member yet? Join now!
Culture and values – when we hear these words, we automatically think about companies, the recruitment process and appraisals.
I’ve been working for more than 20 years and have changed careers to specialise in occupational safety and health. Looking back, when I researched previous roles, I looked on culture and values as a one-way street from the company and rarely took a step back to think about my own.
It doesn’t matter whether a company is big or small, private, limited or a worldwide corporation, they all have their own culture and values, even if they are not stated anywhere. In addition, I have found that the ethos of individual departments and teams can differ from the overall company.
Recently I have been going through my own professional development journey and have become much more self-aware of what is right for me and what I want from the company I am working for and the role I am doing. I have taken time to evaluate the different roles I have had and the companies I have worked for to identify why I excelled in some but, in others, felt like I was fighting a non-ending battle.
It occurred to me that the culture and values of where I was at the time played an important factor in these varying experiences. Roles I shone in and companies I excelled at shared the values I consider important and the culture matched what I am comfortable with. In contrast, the roles and companies where I felt deflated or frustrated did not exhibit the values to which I aspire, and the culture was not one I wanted to be associated with.
If a company’s culture and values do not align with your own, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, or the company is bad – just different. For anyone starting their career, making a change or moving into a new role, my advice would be to stay true to yourself. Take time out to identify your own values and write down a list of your top three. At the interview for my current role I disclosed my values and asked the interviewer to do the same.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on a topic you feel strongly about or effective initiatives that you’ve been part of, so why not write your own feature for us to share with the OSH profession? Email email@example.com with your name, job title, organisation, maximum 500-word submission and any supporting photos.
Future Leaders talk about their experiences
We’ve asked our members to share their thoughts on the Future Leaders Community. Our Future Leaders come from a wide range of backgrounds and have experienced varying routes into the OSH industry and IOSH Membership. Check out the stories below.
The Future Leaders Community provides me with the opportunity to network with other like-minded Future Leaders and to involve directly in the shaping of the community.
As a Future Leaders Steering Group member, I was encouraged to share my views in the shaping of the community which helps IOSH to establish contents that are relevant and invaluable for Future Leader members’ personal and professional developments.By attending the conference, you are supporting young members’ involvements in Health and Safety.
The Future Leaders Conference in November 2019 provided myself and other members the opportunity to gain information on the key skills required in becoming the Future Leader. The conference provides the opportunity for members to learn from the speakers, exchange ideas / experiences with other members as well as to seek advice from other senior members.
The Conference is an amazing opportunity to meet and network with other members from various industry. Above all, you will be able to meet the IOSH team who work relentlessly in making the community a big success as it is right now.
Cindy Bell | SHE Advisor (North Region)
If you’re thinking of joining the Community, don’t hesitate! And don’t have any nagging doubts.
There is a forum where we can introduce ourselves and from there the world can be our oyster.
IOSH has provided us with a platform to meet like-minded and passionate people who can work together to become the future face of health and safety,” she explained. “The more people who engage with the Future Leaders Community, the more of a powerful position we’ll be in to make a real difference to the future of the profession.
I would recommend the Future Leaders Community to any new professional out there. The community is an incredible platform for new and aspiring health and safety professionals.
Together, over the years, I believe this community can really shape the future of health and safety and this is such a perfect platform, one which I am so thankful to be part of. Thank you IOSH!
Joanne Lund | Interim Site Health and Safety Projects Coordinator with Allied Bakeries Stockport
IOSH has been a crucial support throughout my journey right from the start. There is so much support available: from regular news, magazines and information updates; local and national events; competency assessments; and mentoring opportunities, you couldn't really ask for a better support network within an industry community.
I think IOSH's Future Leaders Community is a fantastic initiative to promote, influence and support fellow OSH professionals emerging into the industry.
Health and safety can feel quite intimidating when you are just starting your career, but this fantastic community helps you to develop and build life-long support networks and enhance your skills and knowledge.
Dominic Jackson | Health and Safety Advisor at Dyson
Want to share your story? We’d love to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, job title, organisation, maximum 500-word case study and any supporting photos.
Please note, IOSH will have editorial input before any features or stories are published. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee every submission will be published as a Future Leaders feature or story. If you’d like to discuss your story idea prior to submission, please use the email address above.