Ever thought of benchmarking yourself?

Case Study: Brendan Montgomery - Cargilll

Benchmarking is a technique that will be familiar to most in the health and safety industry. It’s all about comparing your own position or performance to others, whether it is against an industry norm or what might be considered best practice. But how many of us use benchmarking to assess our own personal career development? It is something that Brendan Montgomery did right at the outset of his career, aged just 22 years.

Brendan is an environmentalist at heart and his passion for protecting the environment lead him to study Land Use and Environmental Management at Queen’s University in his native Belfast. Safety as a career didn’t occur to him until he was working in Berlin as part of a European graduate placement. He then saw an opportunity for a Safety, Health and Environment graduate on the Nestle Graduate scheme.

By coincidence Brendan’s uncle had just successfully passed the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. So he borrowed his study books in preparation for his interview which really sparked his interest in safety. His interview was successful and he moved to Girvan in Scotland for his first placement.

After completing placements in Girvan and Carlisle, Brendan was offered a permanent job at Nestlé’s site in Wisbech. After recognising that other managers at Nestle had more experience than him but didn’t necessarily have the qualifications, Brendan decided to take the NEBOSH National General Certificate in 2014 and then went straight into studying the National Diploma which he completed in 2016. “I think if I hadn’t done something like NEBOSH, I’d probably be a lot further down in my development.”

Brendan now works for Cargill at their food processing plant in Manchester. Employing 155,000 people in 70 different countries, Cargill is one of the world’s largest privately owned corporations. “We mill wheat, we separate it using different technology and chemical engineering and we make various forms of glucose, animal feed, and ethanol. As EHS coordinator, I get involved in risk assessments. If you come to my site as a contractor I’m probably the first person you will meet. I do inductions, I try and identify safety improvements or projects that we can do, I do a lot of training on different aspects of safety and I am heavily involved in accident and incident investigations.”

Cargill is certainly a good place for an ambitious young EHS professional to progress their career. In fact Brendan was drawn to the role because he saw it as a bigger challenge which offered plenty of progression. “I enjoy the role, it is good, it is challenging but rewarding and I have lots of opportunities that will support my development. I have been assigned a mentor from the European leadership team, they have put me on some management courses and extra training so I can go and audit other sites in Europe. It’s refreshing that they give young people like myself opportunities. So there is a chance for me to be an EHS Manager in the next two or three years.”

Now aged 27, Brendan has completed the NEBOSH National Fire Certificate and is hoping to study the National Construction Certificate in the near future due to the construction activities taking place across the site. His is also keen to develop his experience further: “Really I’ve only been doing this for four and a half years and NEBOSH has been a great start. In terms of competency in this role you need to have knowledge, understanding, experience and attitude. If you don’t have the full package you’re not going to go very far! For where I am at right now, NEBOSH has played a significant role in my development.” 

How has your NEBOSH qualification helped you? Email us with your story: marketing@nebosh.org.uk.