This month we introduce you to Dirk Berard, Director of EHS at Givaudan SA, one of the members who helps make our network so unique.
Why did you join NAEM?
I joined NAEM primarily because of the solid professional engagement in both EHS Management Systems and in Sustainability. While NAEM has long been the premier professional association for those in the environmental field, the organization clearly embraces the important interrelationship of the three disciplines: environmental, health, and safety. Candidly, I should have joined many years ago.
What are you currently working on?
I've been working to strengthen and improve two aspects of EHS management systems. Most recently, I have been improving the processes and tools used to validate the effective closure of corrective and preventive actions (along with their performance sustainability) within the auditing element of EHS management systems. A longer-term system improvement that I've been working on is the incorporation of EHS behavioral competencies into the structure and responsibility element of EHS management systems.
What do you like about your job?
My passion is delivering real business value by building and continually improving EHS management systems, integrating them into how individuals perform their tasks every day. This is a great profession in which to be engaged.
Has your environmental program received any awards or recognition? If so, what?
Certainly the compliance improvements achieved by the EHS management systems I've utilized have been very favorably recognized (internally) by regulatory agencies. The rewards I have most enjoyed have been the achievement of clear business value in terms of reduced risk, resource use efficiency improvements, smaller environmental footprint, sustained compliance performance improvements, etc.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
One of the biggest challenges I've faced is driving the cultural changes necessary to deeply integrate the management of EHS aspects and risks into how individuals do their jobs each and every day — effectively, consistently and sustainably.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
I'm proud to have successfully implemented (with excellent teams) performance-based EHS management systems at two companies. I'm especially proud of the highly successful outcome achieved by using one of those EHS management systems as the foundation to resolve a decade-long enforcement action, while at the same time rebuilding trust and credibility with the regulators.
What advice would you have for someone entering the field today?
I encourage everyone just entering our profession to recognize and embrace early that we are not employed simply to "enjoy being EHS professionals" (although that is certainly important). Rather, we are an essential part of something much bigger - we are here to help make our businesses successful and to help ensure the sustainability of the world environment in which we all live. This requires every one of us individually and collectively to be actively engaged with one another. Our individual and collective success requires comprehensive, integrated, culture-based solutions — not simply clever programs and gimmicks.
What are the three words your spouse/colleagues/best friends would use to describe you?
Driven, passionate, reliable.
What aspect of the natural world/environment impresses you the most? Why?
I am awed by the grandeur of trees, mountains, and clouds; thus, my favorite (environmental) quote: "Thank God they cannot cut down the clouds." - Henry David Thoreau