Building a better life to help her family, friends and colleagues has been at the heart of everything Vijayalakshmi Subramani – known as VJ – has done.
It’s a journey that has taken her from India to the UK, student to manager and back to student, when she joined the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to help with her master’s course.
Now a health and safety consultant in Sunderland, VJ has progressed to Graduate Membership to aid her professional development.
She said: “As a Student Member, IOSH helped by conducting academic poster competitions, providing resources and inviting us to conferences, where we had opportunities to meet successful practitioners.
“I would recommend students join IOSH and use the resources to learn more and then grow as a Graduate Member to be an exceptional candidate for jobs.”
Webinars, news and articles are among the member benefits VJ draws on to update her industry knowledge and develop her network.
“The pandemic has made occupational safety and health (OSH) an even stronger career choice,” said the 34-year-old, whose job as a consultant involves advising companies on Covid-19 awareness training.
In addition, VJ is a director of Kerckhoffs Ltd, which aims to solve social and industrial challenges through emerging technologies, and she also volunteers within her local community – thousands of miles away from where she was born in Tamilnadu,
Motivated to study by her father, VJ wanted to enrol on an engineering degree but her family couldn’t afford university. After securing a scholarship, she did a BSc in Catering Science and Hotel Management and started work as a management trainee.
In 2009, consultancy work brought her to the UK where she later managed a school meals unit for Sunderland City Council. This sparked her interest in developing as an occupational safety and health professional.
VJ took the “risky decision” to give up a permanent job to study for an IOSH-accredited MSc in Environment, Health and Safety at the University of Sunderland.
Despite having to balance her studies with the needs of her family – husband Selva, a writer, is a paraplegic, and their young son James has health conditions – VJ also made time to support her peers. Her kindness saw her voted Student of the Year 2019 through the Rate Your Mate campaign.
“I was extremely happy to be recognised. I felt justified returning to my studies,” she said.
VJ attributes good time management as key to her success and has this advice for anyone studying an OSH qualification: “Planning ahead, organising your work and maintaining good relationships with your peer groups and lecturers make university life much easier.”