From 'wild child' to good fellow
Struggles with number and letter recognition saw Liz Hancock labelled as lazy at school.
That's a distant memory now though as a 'very proud' Liz recently became a Chartered Fellow at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CFIOSH).
Liz, who describes herself as being a 'wild child rebel' at school, always aims for the top in everything she does. This mindset meant her sights were set on achieving Chartered Fellowship, our highest level of membership.
It was during her degree studies that a tutor suggested getting tested for dyslexia.
The diagnosis was a 'game changer' and helped Wirral-born Liz make sense of her school experiences. She went on to earn a degree in occupational safety, health and environment (OSHE) after starting out alongside her dad at a shipbuilding firm.
A semi-retired merchant navy Captain, father and daughter enjoyed spending six months working together training Liz to become the company's quality, health, safety and environment officer.
Liz embraces technology to support with her dyslexia.
She said: "Part of my quality role (at the shipbuilding company) was to take serial numbers manually from the ship's inventory and I would often confuse 5 and F, 3 and E, which was quite problematic when creating a ship's user manual.
"My employer was really helpful and provided me with a camera to support the process. I've learnt to use simple technology to help me.
"Technology is advancing at a rate of knots and I've always leant into this to support my dyslexia in and out of work – audio books have been a god send."
Now living in Cheshire and working as head of health, safety, environment and facilities for Unipart Rail, Liz enjoys the different and evolving challenges of her role.
"I don't think the basics have changed since I started working in occupational safety and health (OSH) – we are here to prevent harm at work," she said. "I think what has changed is the understanding of the benefits of soft skills, moving away from lagging to leading reporting, and the whole digital landscape which has pushed the profession forward.
"I think Covid-19 put a spotlight on the profession in a positive manner. I've noticed with interest in recent years the expectation of the profession is growing to include sustainability, security and quality.
"I really enjoy the facilities element of my duties, seeing our workplaces develop and also supporting our net zero environmental commitments."
Tips to help you achieve CFIOSH
- Get yourself an IOSH mentor, preferably someone who has been through the same process.
- Tap into the experience of existing Chartered Fellows to review and provide feedback on your portfolio and to prepare for your interview.
- Take your time and don't rush.
Fellowship in three words
Collaborative, supported and beneficial.
Liz joined IOSH in 2003 and became a Chartered Member three years later.
"The IOSH community in general have been overwhelmingly helpful," she said. "I had seven Fellows review and provide genuine feedback on my portfolio, as well as several Chartered colleagues.
"There was also one-to-one support from existing Fellows on interview techniques and IOSH's Professional Development team were always a phone call away. Really outstanding support."
Liz is using her own experiences to support other IOSH members, the OSH profession and her local community. She volunteers on the executive committee of the Staffordshire Branch, is a mentor in our Mentoring Scheme and a school governor.
She added: "I really enjoy mentoring colleagues new to the profession and seeing people grow and develop.
"I am doing a lot more of that with my school governor role, and within my local education community. I'm hoping to volunteer with IOSH to support other colleagues through the Fellowship journey too."