My entire NEBOSH learning journey has been both engaging and rewarding

Case Study: Aparna Jayadevan

Aparna Jayadevan is Head of QHSE at Gulftainer Company Ltd.; one of the global pioneers in Port Operations and Supply Chain and Logistics management based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. In this interview she talks about her career to date; highlighting how NEBOSH qualifications have supported her career progression.

Aparna, you have work in health and safety since 2011. What attracted you to the profession and how did you get your first opportunity?

My interest in health and safety can be traced back to when I was working as a Training Coordinator for a prominent UK Multinational Corporation. It specialised in design, engineering and project management and operated across a range of industries including Oil and Gas, Aerospace, Signaling, and Building Architecture. During that tenure, I observed the pivotal emphasis the organisation placed on quality, safety, occupational health, and the environment and how this impacted on its work culture, operations, productivity, and profitability. This generated increased curiosity in me and sparked genuine interest to learn more. I began by reading and researching extensively to build my knowledge, which reinforced why QHSE is important and my conviction on how interesting it can be.

I embarked on my journey with Gulftainer Company Ltd in 2010 and was assigned an administration role within the law department. The following year, when the organisation established the QHSE department, I was given the opportunity to take up a Quality Coordinator role. The challenges and dynamic prospects inherent in QHSE really appealed and impressed me so, I enthusiastically embraced the given opportunity. I could gauge that QHSE serves as a guiding force for process formulation, enhancement, and evolution in an organisation, and therefore contributes immensely to achieving operational excellence. This reaffirmed my faith that a career in QHSE would be rewarding.

You completed your NEBOSH International General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety in 2017.

  • Why did you choose this qualification in particular?

I frequently participated in health and safety meetings as part of my job responsibilities. Many of my colleagues in attendance had already pursued their NEBOSH qualifications, and I observed a marked difference in their confidence and approach, which was clearly enriched with conceptual knowledge. This was particularly noticeable in discussions focused on hazard identification, risk assessments and accident investigations. Learning has always been a strong suit of mine, so I decided to look for the befitting qualification for myself. I was impressed by the comprehensive and varied syllabus and felt achieving the International General Certificate would support my professional development. After recognising the impact this qualification had had for others and reviewing its content, I signed up and went on to successfully complete the qualification. 


  • Did you enjoy your studies?

Absolutely! My NEBOSH studies have been a source of immense joy for me. From the start of my career, I have recognised the widespread acceptance of NEBOSH certifications across various industries, making it a crucial asset in a rapidly expanding career landscape. The structured syllabus was not only comprehensive but also meticulously designed to cover all essential areas. I relished every aspect of the process, often eagerly completing my lessons before reviewing content to produce a summary to reinforce the learning curve. Collaborating with fellow learners added a dynamic dimension to my studies, fostering a rich exchange of insights and perspectives. The entire learning journey was both engaging and rewarding.

  • How did securing this qualification help your career progression?

Securing this qualification proved instrumental in propelling my career forward. It directly contributed to my promotion to the role of Senior QHSE Coordinator, a significant milestone in my professional journey. I decided my next step should be completing the IMS Lead Auditor certification, which opened doors to further advancement leading me to excel as a QHSE Auditor. By mastering the fundamentals of occupational health and safety, I gained the expertise needed to both proactively and reactively identify safety exigencies, fulfilling a crucial requirement within my field.

In 2019 you went on to complete the NEBOSH HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation.

  • Why did this qualification appeal to you?

The NEBOSH HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation appealed because ensuring incidents are investigated properly is a cornerstone of effective health and safety management. I wanted to ensure I had the requisite skills and insights to conduct thorough investigations, so lessons are learnt, and risks are mitigated. This qualification provided a structured framework for analysing incidents and aligned perfectly with my personal drive to elevate safety standards within organisational settings.

  • How did its content help you?

The content enhanced my competency to conduct thorough incident investigations. By delving into topics such as root cause identification (RCI), analysis of contributing factors (ACF), and the implementation of corrective actions (ICA), it provided me with a robust framework for addressing workplace incidents effectively. Through immersive case studies and practical examples, I honed my ability to navigate complex scenarios, ensuring investigations are comprehensive as well as competent and the recommendations formulated are actionable. Armed with these invaluable skills, I became adept at objectively assessing incidents, prioritising corrective measures, which ultimately helped to foster a culture of safety within the workplace.

You have worked for Gulftainer Company Ltd in the United Arab Emirates since 2010. Can you tell us about the company please?

Gulftainer Company Ltd. is a premier, privately owned port management and 3PL logistics enterprise headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Established in 1976, it now has operations in UAE, Iraq, Saudia Arabia and the USA. Gulftainer has garnered acclaim for its unwavering commitment to delivering world-class performance and services to its clientele. It embraces a forward-thinking approach, actively fostering an open and collaborative platform to encourage innovation within the port and logistics sector. By engaging with startups, entrepreneurs, and diverse stakeholders, Gulftainer is at the forefront of shaping the future landscape of ports and logistics.

You were appointed Head of QHSE by Gulftainer in December 2022. Can you tell us a little bit about this role and your responsibilities?

After my appointment as Head of QHSE at Gulftainer, I assumed a pivotal role in navigating the organisation through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This period underscored the importance of team spirit and robust work ethics and honed my leadership skills.

My responsibilities encompass a spectrum of crucial tasks aimed at fostering a culture of safety and excellence within the organisation:

  • Ensuring the highest standard of training for employees and maintaining safety protocols at industry-leading levels, with the overarching goal of achieving zero injuries or losses.
  • Establishing, documenting, and implementing Quality, Health, Safety & Environment Management Systems across the group, laying the foundation for comprehensive safety measures.
  • Crafting and refining a strategic QHSE roadmap spanning five years, focused on preventing harm to individuals, minimising property loss, and mitigating environmental impact.
  • Sustaining continuous compliance with QHSE standards, including Quality Management Systems (QMS), Environmental Management Systems (EMS), and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS), while offering expert advice and recommendations for ongoing improvement.
  • Implementing proactive measures and corrective actions to pre-empt any potential HSE violations, ensuring adherence to or surpassing the expectations set by relevant HSE standards.
  • Providing guidance and support to business units and functional departments, ensuring the seamless integration of efficiency factors into new practices, thus optimising operational effectiveness.

What’s next for you in terms of your professional development?

In terms of my professional development, I am committed to furthering my expertise and credentials in the field of health, safety, and environmental management. I want to broaden my knowledge base, refine my skills, so I can ultimately contribute effectively to the advancement of health, safety, and environmental standards within my professional sphere. To this end, I plan to study:

  • NEBOSH HSE Certificate in Health and Safety Leadership Excellence: This course will enable me to enhance my leadership skills specifically in the context of health and safety, giving me with the knowledge and tools to effectively lead and inspire others to strive for a culture of safety excellence.
  • NEBOSH International Environmental Diploma: This will provide a comprehensive understanding of environmental management principles and practices, empowering me to address complex environmental challenges and drive sustainable initiatives within my organisation.

Additionally, I am committed to achieving the prestigious Chartered Member (CMIOSH) and Fellow (CFIOSH) levels under the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Holding these esteemed designations signify a high level of proficiency and leadership in the field of occupational health and safety and would reflect my dedication to continuous professional development and excellence.

What do you enjoy most about being a health and safety professional?

The opportunity to tackle the intricate challenges involved in designing and refining processes and procedures to align with international standards while staying true to the vision and mission of the organisation. This aspect of my role fuels my passion for continuous improvement and innovation.

Additionally, the dynamic nature of the job allows me to engage with various departments and stakeholders, fostering collaboration and synergy. These interactions not only energise me, but also inspire me to strive for excellence in everything I do.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The achievement that resonates most profoundly with me is reaching the current position, a milestone that underscores the paramount importance of health and safety. Central to my journey have been the acquiring valued qualifications and certifications, notably the NEBOSH International General Certificate alongside credentials such as CSP, ASP, CSSGB, CSSBB, CLMP, CRiSP, ASQ CQA, Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 & 50001 and Gulf SQAS Lead Assessor.

I take immense pride that through my work I ensure workplace accidents are prevented and risk factors are mitigated. I am committed to fostering a culture of safety and to have a personal impact through proactive leadership to help safeguard the well-being of all our employees.

By striking a well-balanced approach between safety management and quality assurance and control, I have been able to make significant contributions to enhance organisational performance and foster a culture of safety and excellence. This achievement underscores my commitment to continuous professional development and my passion for driving positive change within the workplace.

What would your advice be to anyone who aspires to make health and safety their career?

My advice to anyone aspiring to pursue a career in health and safety is to prioritise commitment, hard work, and continuous improvement. These qualities are indispensable and serve as integral ingredients for success.

As health and safety professionals we can deliver tangible and intangible benefits to organisations. We can ensure work practices are safe, promote process excellence and this can directly and proportionally positively impact productivity and profitability. Through our work we also help to protect and enhance the organisation’s brand image and reputation. Aspiring health and safety professionals should always remain vigilant and pay attention to the detail, striving to create a win-win synergy that fosters success for both themselves and the organisations they serve.