Health and Safety was the right career choice for me!

Case Study: Rishi Chaturvedi - Empower Energy Solutions

Rishi Chaturvedi is a HSE Practitioner who works for Empower Energy Solutions in Dubai. In this interview, Rishi explains how he came to work in health and safety and shares his advice to those with similar aspirations.

When did you decide that Health and Safety was the career for you and how did you get your first opportunity in the profession?
I have my father to thank for encouraging me to enter the profession. He obviously knows me well and felt it was the perfect fit for me. My father knew I wanted to excel and succeed but that I wanted to do this in a profession that gave me the opportunity to help others and make a difference. He suggested that health and safety was a choice that would allow me to fulfil these aspirations. It was under his guidance that I signed up for the Diploma in Industrial Safety Management in India. Once I had passed this, I secured a safety supervisor role with the Essar Group Jamnagar Gujrat, India. That job laid the foundation for me as a safety professional and showed me the important role we can play in every organisation, in every industry.

I understand that the first NEBOSH qualification you took in 2013 was the International General Certificate. Can you tell us what motivated you to take the International General Certificate?
I first became aware of this NEBOSH International General Certificate when I was studying the Diploma in Industrial Safety Management. I kept hearing about its value and the impact achieving it could have. After speaking to my superiors and peers I was convinced it would open more opportunities for me, so I decided this should be the next qualification I signed up for.

In 2014, you secured a health and safety role in Dubai. Did your NEBOSH International General Certificate help you make this move?
I would say that NEBOSH International General Certificate was key to me securing employment in the Middle East. In countries like Qatar and the UAE, it is specified in adverts for most health and safety roles. Employers here value its content and structure, which provide students with what they need to excel as OHS professionals. I am a firm believer that completing the NEBOSH International General Certificate is a must for anyone who aspires to be a health and safety professional.

You have worked in health and safety in Dubai ever since. What have been your career highlights so far?
Along with health and safety, I started to look at ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), sustainability and other related disciplines. This opportunity to keep learning and expanding your knowledge is something I particularly enjoy about our profession. As my skills and knowledge have grown, I have been given new and interesting opportunities. I am fortunate to have been part of some esteemed projects, including the Mall of Emirates expansion project and Blue Water residential construction projects. Another career highlight was when I was asked to work with Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

In 2021 you completed the NEBOSH International Diploma. How did you find the qualification?
For me this is the most comprehensive qualification for a health and safety professional. It gives you knowledge of all aspects of occupational health and safety and the confidence to apply it. I am thankful to my tutors who helped me achieve this amazing qualification. Every ounce of knowledge I acquired during my learning experience has provided real value to me professionally. It has ensured I truly understand the nuances of safety, and this has helped me build the competency and confidence to believe I can weather any storm or challenge that comes my way.

Can you tell us a little about your current role with Empower Energy Solutions please?
Empower Energy Solutions is the world’s largest district cooling provider, serving over 110,000 corporate and individual customers in over 1,400 buildings in Dubai. Its operating model is focused on transforming traditional processes of cooling into one which is energy efficient and supports the UAE’s efforts to achieve it carbon neutrality goals.

I am employed as a safety practitioner and officer and am responsible for the safe operation of several permanent, semi-permanent and temporary plants located around the Emirate of Dubai. I find myself blessed to have this job, as I get the opportunity to work with amazing entities such as Dubai Airports, Dubai Civil Defence, and innumerable prestigious contractors from across the land.

I have been impressed by Empower’s safety culture since joining the organisation over two years ago. I am in a client facing role, so I strive to have a positive impact and raise safety awareness through a range of health and safety motivational programmes, webinars, seminars and stakeholder training for our teams, consultants, and contractors. I also make sure I keep up to date with the latest health and safety developments so our operations reflect the latest technical advancements.

What do you enjoy most about your HSE career?
Since I embarked on my health and safety career, I have never doubted that it was the right choice for me. I enjoy the fact that I can stop accidents and injuries before they happen. To be able to make a tangible difference in the life and health of people is so rewarding. People respect you because of it too.
I like that our profession offers great variety. You won’t work on the same things with the same people every day. As a HSE professional my work is a mix of engineering, management, operations, first-aid, firefighting, investigating, influencing, and training. There are lots of things in my toolkit and I must find the right mix to keep our people safe and well in every situation, which I enjoy.

This is more than a job for me. I can say with absolute certainty that the knowledge and experiences I have gained through my chosen profession have made me the person I am today.

You are an active member of the NEBOSH Alumni community in Dubai. What are the main benefits for you?
The Dubai Alumni is a group of like-minded people who are striving to improve the safety culture of their own organisations and, through that, the safety culture of the entire region. The network provides an opportunity to help and support each other to achieve this collective goal. I am fortunate to have found such peers, who share the same values and dreams as me.

I have also met NEBOSH representatives at the Alumni networking events and have cherished the conversations we have had. These meetings allow me to keep up to date with NEBOSH news including qualification updates, which helps me provide peers and aspirants with the right answers to their questions on career guidance, when they approach me. It is great that NEBOSH has provided us with this forum to exchange information and new ideas.

What are you planning to do next, in terms of your professional development?
My current goal is to acquire the NEBOSH Environmental Management Diploma, which I believe will enable me to fulfil my environmental responsibilities to a higher standard. I also plan to complete a sustainability management course, as this is a real focus here in the UAE currently.

From a membership body perspective, I am working to upgrade my IOSH membership from Certified to Chartered.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of their H&S career?
It is summed up by one word - Patience. Being a health and safety professional is a lot of responsibility, and it is important to allow yourself time to build the competency and gain the experience necessary to be proficient.

Always keep learning and adding new knowledge by taking relevant qualifications, speaking to your peers, and keeping up to date with the latest developments. Seek every opportunity available to get experience in as many industries as possible.

If you come across obstacles, look for the silver lining or learning opportunity, rather than feeling dejected. There is whole world of opportunities out there and as the motto of my alma mater states we: Succeed though Excellence.