Simon Burrows TechIOSH has spent his entire career developing people, helping them to become the very best they can be in life, health and work.
From his first job as a gym instructor through to a health and safety advisor for a global energy operator, Simon has been focused on developing – and continually evolving - high standards.
Now he finds himself with an altogether different improvement project – supporting Mintra as it not only meets, but exceeds, the expectations of its customers and people.
As our Quality Manager, Simon has the responsibility of ensuring that Mintra is performing at the highest level across all its operations and continually striving towards standards that demonstrate excellence.
It is a role that has always been of fundamental importance to our organisation but, as Mintra moves into the next phase of its evolution, the function of the Quality Manager is even more critical.
“Mintra gains accreditations for the benefit of its customers. As a supplier, the more accreditations we have, the easier the tendering process becomes. It shows our commitment to quality, to health and safety and to the accuracy of the information we provide.
“My job as Quality Manager is to look at the standards of those awards to ensure the course content, marketing, sales processes and course development and corrections follow consistent processes. I carry out audits of each department to check that we are doing what we say we do and are continuously making improvements,” he explained.
Simon, who is based in the Aberdeen office and is part of the operations team, started his career as a fitness instructor. He took the view that, if he was to be a model of the behaviours that he wanted his clients to demonstrate, then he needed to continually improve himself. He placed a huge emphasis on attaining perfection in terms of technique so that his clients could learn and develop with his support.
Simon eventually left the four walls of the gym for a career in outdoor education, teaching young people sports activities and personal development. That involved organising expeditions where the participants would be expected to take part in everything from climbing to water sports.
Again, he would focus on developing his own technique so that he could demonstrate it to the young people in his care, ensuring that they were safe and competent in the activities they were being asked to join in.
He said: “A friend of mine then joined Maersk. I really liked the sound of what he was doing and felt that it could be something that would suit my skills. I was lucky enough to land a role there and stayed for nine years.
“There were so many elements of the job that I enjoyed, from giving people confidence underwater in the helicopter during BOSIET training to teaching the MIST course. I’d been at Maersk for about three years when I found myself in front of an OPITO auditor who had arrived for an unannounced audit.
“There was no one else around to deal with it, so it was a real rabbit caught in the headlights moment for me. However, it was an experience that I really enjoyed and from there I landed up in a quality, health and safety role improving course content, ensuring that there was consistency, and everything was standardised.”
He eventually joined Maersk Drilling in 2018 and although based onshore, Simon would regularly visit installations to get a feel for how health and safety was being implemented and where there was scope for improvement. He integrated himself with the crew, getting a much greater understanding of their day-to-day challenges and issues.
Simon explained: “Normally the health and safety guy is someone they would see on a video link, but I felt it was really important to spend time on the rig whenever possible. I was based onshore but, to me, getting feedback from the crew and giving them a voice, getting them engaged in the process, was incredibly important.
“Not only did it let me see and understand things from a different perspective, I also think it helped deal with some of the negative perceptions of health and safety or auditors being the bad guys. A lot of that experience will certainly be really helpful in my new role.”
As Mintra moves forward with the next phase of its growth strategy – an ambitious programme of M&A that will develop an enhanced and expanded product offering – Simon believes it will become even more important to demonstrate excellence to the outside world.
He has set his sights on achieving additional ISO standards that will prove effective assurance in areas such as information security and health and safety, and which highlight our commitment to the environmental agenda.
“The health and safety standard is an important one for us. If we are delivering products that are designed to improve health and safety, then we must be operating to the highest standards ourselves.” he said.
“I also believe ISO 14001 environmental standard is achievable for Mintra. We need to ensure that we as a company are constantly striving to reduce our environmental impact. These have been strange times, but one positive to come out of COVID-19 is the increased use of platforms like Skype and Teams – it’s shown us that we can move away from a culture where we take flights to attend meetings.
“One of the great things about ISO standards is they encourage employee input to making company-wide improvements. So far, I haven’t met anyone in Mintra who is shy to share their thoughts, but I will certainly be looking to ensure all employees get the opportunity to have their say, whether through the Action Management System, audits or projects.”
As a TechIOSH Simon has demonstrated his own commitment to self-improvement, and to keeping his skills, knowledge and experience up to date. It’s his intention to move up the IOSH qualification ladder: he has his sights set on Graduate and, ultimately, Chartered status.
Now he looks forward to applying the skills and experience he has developed over the years to his role with Mintra.
“It’s going to be a very busy time for me, but it is exciting to add value and help develop the company. In the past, I’ve often felt like a cog in the wheel, delivering work that someone else has created. But here in Mintra I feel I have the influence and knowledge where, at the right time in the company’s growth, I can make positive change,” he said.
Mintra provides free ECDIS training to City University of Applied Sciences Bremen students