Originally from Scotland, Richard and his family moved to Cambridge in 2007, looking for a change. He’d worked in the hotel industry after leaving school and then spent about 25 years in various roles with British Airways, from flight attendant to all areas on the ground (except engineering), mostly based at airports in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
“This is where my commitment to health and safety was drilled into me. Health and safety regulations were stricter than they are here, and in the aviation industry they’re even stronger so I think it became ingrained in me – it’s become part of my DNA.”
After arriving in New Zealand, Richard worked as a travel tutor at the New Zealand School of Tourism (NZST) in Hamilton for 11 years, teaching many tourism related subjects, including health and safety in the tourism industry.
“I found, while I was teaching health and safety, that I had a real passion for it. I was encouraged by NZST to further my learning, and that’s how I found myself undertaking SITLRN’s Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety qualification.”
He graduated in late 2018 and decided he wanted to find a role that used the varied skills he’d developed while studying with SIT2LRN.
“I learnt a lot about the current regulations in health and safety and have found a lot of the subject is extremely valuable in the job I do. I have also learnt that, with my adult teaching experience, I have a real knack for conveying the importance of health and safety to other members of staff,” Richard said.
“At the age of 58, I thought it might be difficult to change careers, but I soon found my skills were in demand and I now work as the Health and Safety Advisor for Cobb New Zealand, a subsidiary of Cobb-Vantress, Inc, which is a broiler breeding company based in the United States with a distribution network in more than 120 countries.
“I didn’t know a thing about chickens… but when the role came up, I went for it. And if I hadn’t done the course and had the qualification, I wouldn’t have got the job,” he said.
“They started building the farm about two years ago and my role has been to put health and safety in place on site. It’s very exciting to be there right from the beginning, implementing things I learnt while studying.”
He’s quick to highlight the value of SIT2LRN, from both the facilitator and also subject matter perspectives.
“I found the facilitators first class – always helpful and they replied to any queries and marked our papers very quick."
While studying from home could be tough with other distractions, the positive side was “you can do it in your own time, at your own pace in your own environment”, Richard said.
“The two and a half years of study soon flew by and as a result I have found my dream job.”