This Q&A is from Rodney Canada's tenure as Vice President, Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability at CP Kelco U.S. Inc.
Why did you join NAEM?
First, the quality of the organization and the people involved. Second, as an EHS professional, you never want to stop learning and NAEM offers excellent opportunities to meet experts in EHS areas, network with peers, share best practices and to learn from others via conferences, the annual forum and through resources available from their website. Also, it is fun to mix the learning's of events with social time with peers.
What are currently working on?
I am currently working on two significant efforts within CP Kelco. First, we have been making a strong cultural transition away from a "recordable injury" mentality and have turned our focus to risk and exposure reduction. We started this journey several years ago and it has taken a strong root now in the organization. Secondly, as we look to other areas to improve, we are focusing on developing transformational leadership skills at all levels of our organization.
What do you like about your job?
I like EHS because of the mix of technical and people issues it entails. It is never boring. There is always a new challenge as we continually look to improve the physical design while at the same time working with the human side. There is also the personal satisfaction of knowing that what I do translates to less people in our company being hurt or a reduced environmental footprint for our organization.
Has your environmental program received any awards or recognition? If so, which ones?
Around the world, many of our sites have been recognized by local or national government organizations for excellence in their safety or environmental programs. In the last year, our sites in Denmark, Finland, China and the Philippines have been recognized for their EHS efforts and accomplishments.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
Time and resources! As with many organizations, my company operates with a lean management structure and our plants are constantly hit with needs and requests (operational, financial, quality, HR etc). Planning, prioritizing and executing EHS programs for maximum impact and efficiency is a critical part of my role.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
I have been involved in many interesting projects over the years from permitting a Greenfield chemical plant in Hungary to the acquisition and integration of new facilities in Brazil and Korea to major training and cultural change initiatives on a global basis. However, what I am most proud of is seeing people that I coached or mentored in my career progressing and becoming successful senior EHS leaders.
What advice would you have for someone entering the field today?
EHS is a field with excellent and diverse career opportunities. In my more than 30 years in the field, EHS has moved from the "we have to do it" to a strategic aspect of most leading companies today so my advice to someone entering the field today is not to overlook education and training on general leadership, strategic thinking and business skills as these skills will become very valuable as they progress throughout their career. Look for and take on opportunities outside the pure EHS role when they present themselves to broaden and improve your skills.
What aspect to the natural world/environment impresses you the most? Why?
The aspect of the natural world that most impresses me is the diversity of the undersea environment. Being a scuba diver, seeing the ecosystem of a coral reef up close with the varieties of animal and plant life and how they interact is always amazing. (And I am one of those guys who if I see a shark, I swim toward it, not away — but then again, I have never came across one bigger than me in the water, so that might make me change my mind!)