Firmenich: Careers case study

Carol Guignard, Health, Safety and Environment Manager: "You work on a project basis so you never do the same things!"

Qualification:Master of Engineering in Risk Prevention, Heaalth, Safety and Environment - Engineering School at Polytech' Grenoble, France.

Q: What does a health, safety and environment manager do?

A: Working in health, safety and environment doesn't really lead to an average day. Apart from the administrative work, there is not a real routine. It's more about working on a project basis, such as those looking to improve the environment we work in, or that are responding to an incident or accident where we need to react to make the situation safe again.

Q: What was your career path to your job?

A: After my French Baccalaureate (A-levels equivalent), I went to university for two years to do an intensive program in mathematics and physics. After that, I wanted to do something more practical and more meaningful, so when I heard about health and safety I applied to do a masters specialising in this area.

I did a three-year master of engineering degree and after graduation I found a contract job with a food ingredient manufacture in the UK. I really enjoyed working in this environment and that's what led me to look for a permanent position within the food and drink industry, which I found at Firmenich.

Q: What is the best thing about your job?

A: You cannot get bored! There are so many different aspects to this job. Of course there is the administrative work, creating procedures and paperwork, but it is compensated for by all of the other challenges such as, amongst several others, delivering training, getting external certifications, implementing new processes and making sure they are safe before handing it to production. And you work a lot on a project basis, so you never do the same things!

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing this career?

A: We often hear that it is difficult to work abroad in health and safety because of the legislation but this is completely false. Health and safety is one of the most interesting fields to be curious about in terms of how it is handled in different countries, because safety is all about the culture. So my advice is go and see what is done elsewhere.

To do this job, you need to be open-minded and have excellent communication skills: what better way to acquire this than by working abroad!

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

A: I still see myself in health and safety, because I don't think I will have seen all of it in 5 years time.

Q: Who would be your ideal fantasy dinner date?

A: Jude Law.

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Last reviewed: 15 Mar 2011