Assistant Editor, SHP & IFSEC Global

May 3, 2022

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‘I like being challenged, I use it as an opportunity to learn and share my knowledge with others,’ SHP meets Shari Bowen

SHP speaks to Shari Bowen, who was named SHP’s International Rising Star in December, about the challenges related to crafting a successful career in health and safety as a woman in Barbados, what motivates her on a daily basis, and what readers can expect from her in the future.

Shari began her journey in Occupational Safety and Health in 2016 as an OSH Intern with the Occupational Safety and Health as an OSH Intern with the Occupational Safety and Health section of the Labour Department of Barbados. She graduated from the University of the West Indies with a Master of Science in OESH in 2018.

Click here to listen to this interview in full…

Speaking on her entry into the sector, Shari says: “Health and safety is a male dominated field here in Barbados, the Caribbean, and probably all over the world. When I started, I immediately clung to my first manager, she’s also a female, and I admired the way she carried herself.”

Through her social media platform, Women in Safety Caribbean, Shari promotes women who are leading the charge of safety and health nationally and throughout the Caribbean.

She comments: “At the start of my career I was shadowing male and female officers, and immediately noticed that the experience for women was completely different. Whatever my manager’s male counterparts were saying would be received and accepted instantly, whereas she would have to provide evidence for whatever she was saying and really assert her dominance, it really isn’t easy for women – we do definitely have to stick together.

“My whole department right now is made up of females, my manager is female, and my colleague is female, so we are all females in the health and safety department.

Shari is currently the HSSE Officer at Massy Distribution, one of the largest distribution companies in the Caribbean basin and has been instrumental in developing and promoting safety and health at 13 locations.

She is also a Graduate Member of IOSH, of which she sits on the Executive Committee of the IOSH Caribbean Branch.

She talks fondly of her position at IOSH and the opportunities it has given her to network with other females in the sector, speaking on what motivates her on a daily basis, Shari says: “My days never look the same, which is good because I hate doing the same thing over and over again. I love being able to learn continuously as legislation is constantly changing.

“I’m surrounded by a wealth of knowledge, from both my colleagues and the contractors we interact with, and I love talking to people. I also, more recently, have discovered that I like being challenged, I’m realising, as my career progresses, that I can use it as an opportunity to learn and share my knowledge, I’m definitely less defensive than I was before.”

Shari Bowen

On 14 December, Shari was announced as SHP’s International Rising Star 2021, as part of the wider SHP Awards, after being selected from a list of three finalists by a panel of expert judges.

“I was so shocked when I heard the news, I immediately told family, friends and teammates, they were all so happy for me, it was like I’d won a Grammy. Coming from a little Island that not many people know about, it really means a lot.”

Shari’s journey in health and safety up until this point has been far from dull, with so much already achieved in the six years since accepting her first role in the field, and she’s keen to reassure readers that we can expect her achievements to continue to multiply in the years ahead.

“Right now, I’m doing my Initial Professional Development (IPD) for IOSH, trying to move from a graduate membership to a chartered membership.

“In the future, I see myself in a more high-risk environment, perhaps returning to the aviation sector, which is where I started my career, but I never want to put a limit on my goals.”

Watch: Here is Shari talking about workplace safety in Barbados, in an interview with Ally Safety in July 2021…

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