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Future Leaders: building a support network that will be with you for life

After being diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease, Dominic Jackson (pictured below), IOSH Future Leader and a Health and Safety Advisor at Dyson, found his way working in occupational safety and health.

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14 years ago, I was a couple of months away from finishing secondary school with no plan or idea of what I wanted to do next. I had spent most of my school years being a class clown with little to no interest in studying – and, with a careers advice report saying I should become a plumber, that is what I pursued.

I spent the next two years in full-time study before securing a job at a nuclear power station for the next five years as a plumber. At the age of 23 I decided to go travelling for five months and on my return to the UK I changed career and got a job working as a groundsman, qualifying as a tree surgeon over the next year.

A year into my new career I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease – a condition that affects blood circulation with almost the same symptoms as hand-arm vibration. Due to the nature of the job it meant that once again I needed to look for a different career.

I applied for a maintenance role within an office and during the interview I remember there being a lot of safety-related questions. I received a call later in the day to say that unfortunately I was unsuccessful with the interview, although one of the interviewers was keen for me to apply for a Health and Safety Advisor role which if successful, I would be mentored into.

Five and a half years later, I have completed several qualifications and have worked in social housing, construction and engineering. Next month I will be undertaking my exams with IOSH to become a Chartered Member.

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 look back on my experiences and achievements within the health and safety industry so far and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to start a career as part of it.

It can be a real challenge and completely overwhelming at times, but regardless of what stage you are in your health and safety career, you can really make a difference in people’s lives.

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.

If you can demonstrate a willingness to learn and passion and respect for people and their opinions, the sky is the limit for the career ahead of you. Like many, I came into this industry by accident but I believe it takes a certain type of person do the job that we do.

It’s not an easy climb, and the journey isn’t always smooth, but knowing that the decisions you make and the effort you put in is making a positive difference all around the world makes it all worth it.

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