Peter McGettrick: “Good health and safety leaders challenge themselves”
Peter McGettrick recently joined Turner & Townsend as the national SHEQ director, having worked at Capita for 15 years. In an interview with SHP’s editor, Peter discusses international development, his priorities for the first year and what makes a good health and safety leader.
Congratulations on the new role at Turner & Townsend. Tell me a bit about your new position.
My new position is director of safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ), leading a division which provides a consultancy service across the UK and Ireland. Turner & Townsend has a great reputation as a quality driven organisation providing excellent outcomes for clients and this was the motivating factor in me joining the organisation.
My role leading the SHEQ division ensures that we are the provider of choice for SHEQ consultancy by delivering a high quality service, offering clients tangible value and expanding our offering to ensure it will always be relevant in an ever changing market.
Before you joined Turner & Townsend you worked for Capita for about 15 years – what do you think your biggest successes were with the company?
Having worked at Capita for 15 years, it was always going to take a really special opportunity to entice me to leave. Looking back, it’s obvious to think of the major sales wins or the business growth as the biggest successes, however the aspect which gave me the most satisfaction was around people and clients; creating great teams and giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential whilst being able to work alongside major clients to understand their challenges and create unique solutions which exceeded their expectations.
Turner & Townsend has a very big international presence – what are the biggest challenges in the world of health and safety in both a UK and a global setting?
Turner & Townsend is a truly global business with 97 offices in 41 countries across the world, and I expect this to continue to grow further.
The challenges across the world of health and safety can vary significantly from managing cultural diversity on health and safety standards with local and transient workers to effective monitoring and communication.
The UK’s health and safety record is impressive compared to the rest of the world, however last year 144 people were killed at work and many more injured so there is much to be done to improve this.
Positive health and safety performance generally comes from an organisational culture where health and safety is embedded at the heart of an organisation and every employee plays a role.
Earlier this year the HSE started the Helping Great Britain Work Well campaign, encouraging companies and organisations to use the strategy that sets out priority themes over the next five years. Are you involved in promoting this strategy and how?
I was recently talking to Martin Temple, the Chair of the HSE on this subject and he is passionate about this campaign and the importance of raising awareness of the hidden costs of poor standards of wellbeing in the workplace.
Turner & Townsend launched a Health and Safety Week in October, which allowed us to focus our efforts raising awareness on important health and safety issues, particularly the ’acting together’ theme of the Helping Great Britain Work well campaign.
It was a successful event and the feedback from staff was very positive, so we are already planning ahead for next year! With over 23 million working days lost each year due to workplace ill health, we are also helping our clients create proactive wellbeing strategies which can improve overall business performance.
As the new SHEQ director at Turner & Townsend, what are your priorities in your first year?
Working in a consultancy, the most important aspects of a leadership role are people and clients. As with any national role, our people and clients are based all around the country so my priority is getting to know my staff and make sure they are in roles with match their skill sets so that they can reach their potential.
Turner & Townsend has some industry leading expertise in a range of subject matters such as fire, data assurance, telecoms and health and safety management systems so the opportunities are rich.
I also want to get close to our clients to understand their challenges and make sure that our services are always aligned to their business needs so we can offer them tangible value which improve business performance.
What do you think makes a good health and safety leader?
It’s well known that leadership and good health and safety management go hand in hand, however I believe a good health and safety leader challenges themselves and their organisations to reach their full potential, working to the benefit of their organisation ahead of themselves as individuals. I also believe that a good health and safety leader has to have really strong communication skills and be able to positively influence others to improve performance.