Willmott Dixon's ex detective turned health and safety manager
After years working for the Met Police as a detective, Kay Ortatepe sought out a new challenge and found being a safety professional delivered.
Moving from the police force to construction is an enormous career change. What prompted that and is there any overlap in skills? What training have you had to do?
Having investigated fatalities on construction sites as a detective I knew I could help make a difference. I enjoy being proactive, getting out of the office and talking to people, so finding the ideal job was a challenge in itself.
“My most valuable skill is being able to relate to people from all walks of life, understanding how our environment affects our behaviour and how our mindset affects our decision-making processes.”
Assessing risks is second nature to me now, albeit in a slightly different format, so I am completing formal training in order to become a competent health and safety professional – but those principles are very similar.
I would say that my most valuable skill is being able to relate to people from all walks of life, understanding how our environment affects our behaviour and how our mindset affects our decision-making processes.
In your blog you say you want to change perceptions about safety professionals. Can you elaborate on this?
When people ask me what I do for a living I get the few raised eyebrows or a look of shock. On the other hand, some responses are: “That is perfect for ex-police as you’re used to enforcing rules and telling people what they should be doing.”
It is not the best received job in the world, but I really enjoy discussions with people to explain how diverse the role can be. I’ve had several already say they have changed their perceptions after having a chat over coffee.
What are you finding most challenging?
Landing into this role without the relevant construction background was a little daunting. Trying to learn about the different processes, plant and terminology can be overwhelming – but I am definitely making progress.
I attended a two week trade awareness course which was great for having an appreciation of the expectations of our workforce. I am trying to wear several different hats to understand the pressures of different areas.
Whether operators, site managers, safety managers or operations directors – every role in the organisation has a responsibility for building the right culture – along with the structures that come out of the ground.
If you are looking for a new challenge you will find hundreds of jobs at constructionmanagerjobs.co.uk