An Interview with new BCRSP Governor Mark Fernandes, CRSP

When did you decide you wanted a career in occupational health and safety?
At a very early stage in my career, I decided to participate in the health and safety programs of my company. I quickly realised that this could be a full time job and started the journey towards becoming a safety professional.

What was your first occupational health and safety position?
My first occupational health and safety position was an HSE Representative at a manufacturing shop.

Tell me about your current job. What are your main areas of responsibility?
I am currently the General Manager of Intertek Canada. We work globally with our clients in the Energy, Mining, Transportation and Manufacturing industries to improve the social, ethical, safety, and environmental impacts of their services.

What do you love about your job?
I love to facilitate the process of behavioural change by winning the hearts and minds of all people that I work with through open communication and consensus building.

What are the challenges you experience in your job?
I feel uncomfortable dealing with people who are upset or angry, and I stick to traditional approaches to problem solving.

What skills are important for success in the OHS field?
I believe being a good communicator but more importantly a good listener coupled with having a strong desire to care for others by winning their hearts and minds, is a key ingredient for success in the OHS field.

What tips do you have for new grads or those in entry level OHS positions who want to move up the ladder?
The journey of an OHS professional is not easy and at times the road seems long and the climb steep. Through the challenges, I would urge all new grads to first obtain operational experience in their respective industry and apply the experience gained to make sustainable and practical policy and procedure decisions.

The OHS field has been evolving. What changes excite you most?
I believe the advances in technology are improving work place safety and are increasing the level of awareness with all people.

What’s the future of the OHS profession?
I believe the future is bright. There will always be a demand for an OHS professional as companies have a strong desire to improve the social, ethical, safety, and environmental impacts of their services, supply chains and products that are used by their customers every day.

What do you do when you are not working?
Besides being a devoted husband and father to my family, I relax by watching the Discovery and History channels coupled with reading books and articles on space and history.