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December 15, 2006

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A new Council member’s first thoughts

Newest Council recruit, Rakesh Maharaj, who is head of Hammonds SHE Consulting, enjoyed his first experience of representing IOSH members, and found it all a bit of an eye-opener.

As an IOSH member, I thought I knew all I needed to know about the Institution. I got my copy of SHP, made use of the services and the website. I’ve also been actively involved with the International Specialist Group at Committee level.

Having been elected to the Council of Management, I’ve found there’s much more. Just looking at the papers for my first Council meeting revealed the diverse range of issues facing IOSH and its members. Despite being a member since 2000, it was only seeing all this that made me realise how little I really knew about the inner workings of IOSH.

On the day of my first meeting, I was surprised when people came over and started introducing themselves and congratulating me on being elected. It dawned on me that many of these people weren’t strangers — they knew of me!

The meeting started promptly with the president, president-elect, chief executive, and director of financial services leading the meeting, and as I glanced around the room I recognised a number of well-known names comprising regular contributors to the IOSH discussion forums and SHP, and even authors of widely-read health and safety textbooks and academic papers. I actually did know many of these people!

I was impressed by the timely manner in which the meeting proceeded and the variability of the debates, and I realised that my initial perception of IOSH was perhaps not accurate. I was now looking at a highly effective organisation facing diverse challenges, and I realised that representing 30,000 members is no mean feat.

I learnt a lot from my first experience of Council. This is the forum that debates and agrees the vision and strategy of IOSH — a critical but often understated role, which allows the Board of Trustees and staff to translate the vision into action. I was also amazed, and no doubt many others will be too, to find out that all Council and Board members are unpaid volunteers with full-time jobs, just as demanding as my own at Hammonds.

One thing I’ve been left in no doubt of is that each Council member has a single-minded passion for IOSH and the development of its membership. They may have different views, make radical suggestions, but it’s all because they want the best for the IOSH membership — and they’re prepared to sacrifice many hours of their limited free time to ensure the Institution gives its members what they want and need.

By the end of my first day, my initial apprehension had begun to subside and I was feeling good about my decision to join Council. I hope that as I begin to understand IOSH better, Council members will see the same passion and commitment from me as I saw from them.

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