Occupational Safety

I didn't see much value in health and safety

How a marketing manager became passionate about health and safety

5 minutes03/17/2021

Written by Karri Takki

In Fall 2015, I wasn’t very well-versed in health and safety topics. I saw them as more of compliance matter, which just had to be done. I suppose you could say that I didn't value health and safety much.

That was when Fredrik, one of the founders of NordSafety (nowadays part of Quentic) contacted me. He asked if I would be interested in joining their team. I did some research and wasn't sure if companies would really spend money on a mobile app for health and safety reporting. Also, NordSafety was a small company with only few customers at the time.

After few discussions with the founders and careful consideration I decided to go for it, despite knowing nothing about health and safety. It was a decision which I probably might not have made again today, now that I have a daughter to feed and a mortgage to pay.

Do I need to understand the customer's work?

So, there I was: Responsible for sales and marketing at small startup at its early years, knowing nothing about safety. Is it necessary for a sales/marketing person to understand a customer’s work or is product knowledge enough?

Timo Kronlöf, one of the founders, gave me a crash course in safety management during my first days. I attended several health and safety seminars and conferences to meet potential customers and learn more about the industry.

That time the Nordsafety mobile solution was quite simple. Our development team was pushing hard to implement new features. The growing complexity of our product moved sales towards high-touch model, where an increasingly consultative approach was needed in sales and marketing. As our sales/marketing guy, this meant I had to learn more and more about health and safety.

  • If you really want to identify the customer’s challenge and help to solve it, you need to understand their work. | © iStock: sykono

Why did I spend time learning about health and safety? Wouldn't just knowing your product be enough? In my opinion, it is not. If you really want to identify the customer’s challenge and help to solve it, you need to understand their work. Also, understanding your customers’ field  enables your Sales and Marketing teams to collect better on what is really needed in the product  and pass that on to product development. A good example of this process in action is the new Quentic launched this year. We took learnings from our customers and industry and redesigned our whole incidents and observations tool to better meet the requirements of the modern world.

Impostor syndrome

After a year I was invited to speak at a health and safety event. My first reaction was: What?! Me? Just a little while ago I didn't know anything about health and safety and honestly, I didn't value work of health and safety people to be too important for business.

Topic was about incidents and observations and their significance. Audience was safety professionals and site/project managers. On the morning when I went to the event, I was having serious impostor syndrome. What am I doing talking about safety at a safety event? I'm not a health and safety expert.

I went through the day and after my talk several people told me that it was very good and eye opening, they now saw more value in reporting incidents and observations, beyond fulfilling a submissions quota. It was not anymore just because they had a target to reach in observations submissions. Which raised a thought: “Maybe I'm not an impostor after all?”

Work in health and safety is valuable

Now, I deeply value health and safety professionals and their work. I have really learned to respect the effort that EHSQ people put in every day to ensure that everyone goes home safely, as well as the benefits they bring to businesses. I'm constantly following the discussion among the experts globally and I'm really interested on the topics such as Safety-I & Safety-II, Behavior Based Safety, and Psychological Safety. I have also gotten to know many leading experts in the field from around the world and I have met hundreds of safety professionals over the years. I have really learned to respect the effort that EHSQ people put in every day to ensure that everyone goes home safely.

My new passion for modern safety management

For the past 5 years, I have worked together with my colleagues to compile a safety management trend report, which includes interviews with industry experts on the most important trends in the safety management. This year we have introduced a new section in the report and give a voice to hundreds of frontline safety professionals in the form of a professional survey. It gives us a vital insight into how safety management is seen on the frontline.

Personally, I also find that the report is a great way to see what the hottest topics and trends in the industry to follow at the moment are. The new Safety Management Trend Report 2021 has just been published and you can download it here.