#Authority – Patricia Nortje


authority Patricia 3What is your role within Barloworld? We have your designation; can we stick to SHEQ Officer?How else would you describe yourself, besides the formal title?
Well my designation explains it quite accurately. Just using the last week as an example: I am currently crisis managing a situation on site that has the potential of having a significant financial impact on the business. I have conducted forensic investigations and compiled paper work for prosecution. I am running with 3 projects at the moment that have the potential to save the company time, money and ensure that we are legally compliant from a safety and health perspective. I conduct formal BBC (Behaviour Based Care) and training for employees and management. I also consult in the tender process, current processes and procedures. I write and review procedures. I manage the OHS 18001 document control system. Most of the time I operate from a management point of view and have the respect and trust of my senior executives.

So if you would ask me what I would like to do – My thinking is very operations based and I have experience in all aspects of operations. So I would definitely like to expand – although I have been in the mining industry, I have had extensive experience in the rental of machines. This entailed dealing with any one from single person businesses wanting to do paving, to site establishment for large mining contract companies. I have managed accounts and implemented cost saving procedures in the business. I can coordinate any situation, from planning for strike action, to providing construction sites with machines, dealing with customer complaints, budgeting and project planning. An element that I don’t particularly enjoy would be tele-sales

Who would you credit as a major influence over your career and how has this individual impacted your career journey thus far? Is there anyone close to you that stands out?
This is an easy one for me – A lady by the name of Sharon Anderson Kin Gabrielides. I attended a course with her called “Bettering Yourself” with EQ. It spanned over 6 months with workshops that had to be attended every month. At one of these workshops she opened by saying, “If you do the same thing every day, do you expect different results?” and this resonated with me. She also has the slogan, “be the difference that makes the difference”. Coming from a very traditional Afrikaans family I always knew I thought differently. However, I always maintained my humbleness to management and never challenged anything in life. After the time I spent with her we’ve managed to maintain contact. She helped me realise that I am special and I have a special skill that I needed to capitalise on. So I have the ability to create productive teams, productive environments by managing conflict effectively and optimizing project results with the lowest cost.

As a SHEQ Officer, many people may not be well aware of the ins and outs of your role, more especially in a company like Barloworld. Can you tell us about some of the more interesting elements of your job? What do you enjoy about your role?
My job currently consists of 35 % crisis management/legal compliance, 20 % behavior counselling, 25% management consultation and guidance and 20% training.

quote reduced Patricia

What would you say has been your greatest achievement throughout your career and would you say this has instilled the passion you have for what you do today?
When I started in safety I was given the huge task of ensuring that our Isando campus obtained its OHS 18001 certification. This wasn’t an easy task. I was told on more than one occasion that I may not be able to achieve this. The doubt everyone expressed only motivated me more than anything and we obtained our certification in 2013. We also recently passed our 3rd year running and the system is still going with a high level of compliance. My core contribution to this was designing an online approval system that ensured that documentation was reviewed quicker while optimizing the system into an environmentally friendly, paperless solution. This definitely instilled the passion to achieve more and find innovative ways to move forward in the safety field. I’ve recently proposed 2 additional cost saving initiatives that have been accepted and are in the process of being rolled out in November 2016

Did you always dream of becoming a SHEQ Officer when you first started out in your career or did you have alternative plans? What did you want to become when you left high school?
I only found my niche about 6 years ago when I was given the task of making sure the CAT Rental Store was complying to the relevant aspects of the Marsh (safety audit). I realized that I wanted to know more and that I am very good at applying processes and procedures to ensure compliance. I initially wanted to become a crime scene forensic specialist.

What do you consider to be the most common misconceptions placed against people operating within the Health and Safety realm?Can you provide clarity on what elements people may have confused when they hear about your role?
We are most commonly seen as the “bad guys” or the people to be very scared of. People think that we are traffic officers and inflexible. There are some aspects where one cannot see the grey area but most of the time we are there to ensure everyone goes home in the same condition they arrived in.

There may be graduates that are eagerly looking to follow your career path in the SHEQ sphere. What would your advice be to these individuals in pursuing a strong career within your role?
If you attempt something and you fail, never stop trying and never do the same thing twice and expect a different result. Keep strong and you’ll see that each “challenge “as an opportunity to grow and learn further.

Where are you from originally? Where did you grow up and what school did you go to?
So, I am originally from a small town called Middelburg in Mpumalanga and attended Middleburg High School. I grew up there and spent my entire school life there. I only moved to Johannesburg in 2003.