Welcome to the Safeti Podcast
‘Hiring the Right People’ with Adel Lawson
How do you decide if someone will make a positive impact to the safety culture in your organisation?
In this episode, Adel Lawson takes us through some of the key focus areas that he uses during the hiring process. If you are on the opposite side of the table, how do you know what the employer is looking for? This podcast will also help you see from the employer’s perspective.
Adel shares his strategy for selecting the candidates that have the most chance to succeed. We talk about the role of behavioural safety, the need for cultural awareness and the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. The ‘Hiring the Right People’ podcast will be provide you actionable advice, whether your are the hirer or a prospective candidate.
You can read the full podcast just here ‘Hiring the right people’ with Adel Lawson
Original Article by Adel Lawson – read Adel’s full article on Linkedin
Follow Adel Lawson – follow Adel on Linkedin to see what he’s up to and get his latest publications
Safety Culture Study IOSH – interesting study carried out by IOSH into safety cutlure
- Demonstrate that you can strike a good balance between an authoritative approach and a behavioural change mindset.
- Understanding that sharing responsibility is key when trying to improve safety culture.
- It is important to appreciate any cultural barriers or challenges in the area of work. Applicants need to be in tune with the local working and cultural environment.
- Candidates should be able to demonstrate strong experience in training, communicating and coaching others.
- For candidates: Take yourself out of your comfort zone to learn more and progress more quickly.
Transcript – here’s a taster of the podcast
Hi there thanks for tuning in and welcome to the Safeti podcast where we energize and motivate you in the world of health safety and environment by putting you in touch with real people and their experiences across the HSE space. Our aim is to help you expand your knowledge, develop your career or just have greater impact in your business. Today on the podcast we’re going to go a little bit further afield than we have so far, actually to the Middle East. More specifically to Qatar where we’re going to chat to Adel Lawson who is the HSEQ manager for Hamad International Airport. But before we kick that off, I just like to thank all of you who have listened in so far. This is obviously a labor of love at the moment and I’ve been encouraged by many of you who have found value already in the Safeti podcast. That’s said I would love you to leave a review, constructive feedback or leave us a comment and let us know your opinion on some of the issues that are being covered. Much more importantly though I’d love to hear your suggestions as to what you would like to hear in future episodes of the Safeti podcast. So please reach out to us, leave a comment in the comments box or if you like you can send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cool so let’s crack on with today’s show. We’re going to be speaking to Adel as I said in Qatar. He’s a long-term HSE professional with lots of experience in corporate oil gas consulting manufacturing environments and he’s got to discuss with us his experiences and recommendations when it comes to how to hire the right people. So this conversation I know will be really useful for people who are both hiring or looking for an HSE position. So without further ado let’s get on the call. Adel thank you so much for coming on the safety podcast all the way from sunny Qatar, welcome to the show.
Cheers Richard thanks very much.
Obviously you have a very important Health and Safety Environmental Quality Management role in Qatar at Hamad International Airport. Which I’m sure keeps you busy.
I am very busy. It’s been a busy few months so far. So I mean I’m focusing quite a bit on the soft side of the facility management side. So I mean a lot of up sailing, a lot of work at height. So that’s really been the focus of the airport the last couple of months.
I was reading up a little bit on Hamad International Airport and I was just looking at you know the scale of it and just to let the audience appreciate sort of what you’re managing there. Some of the figures I’m not sure if you’re familiar with these figures. But I was reading there was about 40 million odd people in transit across a year in the airport.
That’s right yeah it’s something around that. I mean the whole scale of that the place is absolutely huge. I mean you’re talking about 600,000 meter squared off of property you know of area whether that’s obviously the land side to the air site and terminals, you know where the planes are. There’s quite a few sections to it and I mean the place is absolutely huge. So there’s a lot of areas to obviously manage.
Richard: Yeah I’m sure, I was reading there’s about two hundred and fifty thousand flights out of it every year as well and it’s a massive footfall and I’m sure you have your work cut out for you. It’s really…
Yeah a quite a lot.
Really good to have you on the show and I know you’ve contributed online in a number of articles that you’ve written recently and the one we’re on to talk about today is the importance of building a strong safety culture by hiring the right see if the officers onto your team. Before we get into that Adel, do you want to give the audience just a little quick bit about your own background and how you’ve built your career today.
I mean I really started off as an engineer quite probably more about what was that 17 years ago. So I’ve got an engineering background and then from then obviously I moved into health and safety. I was a pipeline engineer from there I obviously moved into the health and safety side. I was working in Health and Safety offshore here in the Middle East for quite a few years. I got into the training side of Health and Safety for quite a while with numerous companies and pretty much for the last year I’ve been in the facilities management industry. So I mean it’s a new industry for me. My background is oil and gas and construction. So it’s been an enjoyable change, a good change. Learned a lot of new things. I did want to obviously look into moving into the facility management industry and obviously this opportunity came by and I thought it was something I really needed to take and yeah enjoying it, learning quite a lot.
I think you might have jumped in at the deep end there maybe.
Yeah I did yes.
You definitely weren’t looking for a soft start with facility of that skill and that’s obviously interacting and that you have quite a varied background me.
I mean it started off when obviously when I was working in the oil and gas industry. I mean we used to a lot of turnarounds or shut down periods where the plant gets shut down and you know it was a situation where you get a lot of workers at the plant, you’d be hiring a lot of safety personnel as well to help support your operational teams and you know sometimes obviously those shutdowns would have somewhere around 4,000 employees. so you obviously needed a good strong health and safety team at the same time to support and it was obviously then when I started obviously coming across a lot of the health and safety officers or specialists or advisors for the various roles and it was pretty much then where I set a couple of rules normally for hiring of safety officers. I got them to do some practical assessments, I obviously have focused a lot on the Supervisory or the leadership side of things on their communication and that’s obviously one of the things I wrote about in my article as well. Where I highlighted some of the key areas where I started looking at when it came to hiring safety professionals.
I think it could be very valuable for people who are maybe non-safety orientated or maybe they work in HR and the recruitment side of things or someone you know who is a health and safety environment professional, who’s maybe hiring someone for the first time and it’s something new to them. This sort of insight could be good for them in terms of give them an idea of what they should be looking for.
That’s right yeah.
Yeah so moving on to that then we’ll take a little walk through some of the things you talked about. You mentioned strongly the importance of a person’s attitude towards the rule. Can you tell us a bit more about what that actually means to you?
I mean one of those things for me was I mean I always look for the candidate talks to be quite genuine when it comes to why they actually are in the health and safety business. The way I see it there’s a lot of people in the health and safety business for the wrong reasons and I always think the main reason that you are a health and safety professional is because you care about people and I always need to see that coming through. You’re in this business because you don’t want people to get hurt.
You always want people to go home back to their families, back to their wives or their kids safely and that’s really the priority of why you become a safety professional. It’s always something that I try to look for when I look for candidates and it’s that coming through, are they showing that duty of care that I need to see. It’s more about why did you get into the safety business. You know what I don’t want to hear is oh it’s that it makes a lot more money than working in the maintenance department or stuff like that. That’s not the answer I want to hear. I had a certain candidate once he struck me and he told me this very nice story about why he got into the safety business and he said he was an engineer before and that was his background and he happened to be the first aider when this incident actually happened.
Where somebody I think had a degloving incident and lost a finger and he was the first aider there. That was the first incident he ever actually dealt with and he saw how the person obviously, the affect that had on the person afterwards where he got to work and obviously he couldn’t use his hands for a certain period of time because of that and he was off for a certain period of time and then that basically kind of changed his mind into going into the safety field. Because he thought he could add stuff and he didn’t want to see incidents like that at work. So that for example stories like that kind of touch me, like yep this guy is obviously doing this for the right reasons and that’s the kind of thing I like to hear. You know something personal why got into the business. Another thing I generally look at as well is I like obviously safety professionals to have a holistic view of how health and safety should be managed.
A big question I always asked is who you think is normally responsible for health and safety in this company. I like to hear them say everybody’s responsible for health and safety. I need them to understand that their job there is really coaching other people into making sure safety is integrated into their day-to-day job. That’s really an important thing for me to hear or how they would go about doing that. They’re comfortable coaching people, training people and trying to change the culture into getting everybody to be responsible for safety.
The way that I see a lot of safety professionals, it’s a pendulum of two side’s right. One side you’ve got people who are more into the policing, the authorities side of things and then you’ve got the other side of the scale of people into behavioral change right and then your safety professionals are normally anywhere on that scale. They might have a more authoritarian type of view of things or more coaching people and behavioral change. Now I’m not saying one is better than the other. For different industries obviously different types of people are needed. But I mean for me I do always want to see that they lean towards changing behaviors within a company rather than I’m just going to be there and I’m going to tell people what to do. Because again having that whole behavioral change mindset actually adds value to the company long-term.