Wade Needham

It’s been a while since SafetyAtWorkBlog offered a profile on one of its subscribers. Wade Needham was generous enough to answer some questions about himself. His responses are intriguing and he provides excellents links to other resources.

Wade Needham on the far right in 2018 with, from the left, Tim Allred, Andrew Barrett and Naomi Kemp

If you are a SafetyAtWorkBlog subscriber and would like to follow Wade’s lead, email your responses to the following questions:

  • How did you get into Health & Safety?
  • What drives you?
  • What helps you slow down?
  • Regrets?
  • Favourite fiction writer?
  • What is one trend you are watching keenly?
  • Person/s who you watch and take inspiration from in H&S that you think will have an increasing impact in the sector:
  • What are you most excited about in our sector?
  • What’s your favourite quote?
  • Biggest issue facing the H&S profession?
  • What do you wish you had understood sooner?
  • What would you like to see to improve collaboration in our sector?
  • What should you have been doing whilst you answered this?

How did you get into Health & Safety?

After three years of financial and managerial accounting, six months as a full time assist store manager in sport retail and one year of Management & HR at University I wasn’t really keen on wearing a tie for a while. I took over my father’s business doing reticulation maintenance and installation, yet after 10 months of digging in backyards for 10 hours a day and coming home to do invoicing and BAS statements at night I traded it in for a role in tailings, evaporation and refuse cell HDPE lining and welding with a mid-tier civil construction firm, Ertech. Whilst down at Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine (start of 7 years of FIFO) I got handed the Job Hazard Analysis to write every three days and it kind of stuck. Went in as a mature HR/HSE grad for Ertech for three months in head office then was posted to Port Hedland to enable the building of the Port Hedland Port Authorities’ Utah Point facility.

What drives you?

Rarely is there a shortage of actions to lower risk, create condition for employees to thrive or improve support / recovery at work. Yet it’s the winning of support and integrated execution across the whole employee lifecycle (and organisation) that’s lacking. I enjoy creating runways for others to take off on and do great work that benefits others.  Silos and one dimensional, single point in time thinking really fire me up, in addition to poorly utilised Risk Management Funding

What helps you slow down?

My wife, kids and trusted industry peers – they ground me and bring me back to the current context. Being present is something I find challenging as I am very future orientated. Yet conception is rubbish without execution.

Regrets?

Every day, it’s tough to reconcile some days what we justify to ourselves as practicable, on a personal and functional level. I think those that don’t feel this are fooling themselves. We all oscillate somewhere between the fear of failure, what is ‘enough’ and fear of success. 

Favourite nonfiction writer?

Neal Stephenson

What is one trend you are watching keenly?

The subtle shift of concepts from user or consumer experience to employee experience. Initially we are seeing a desire for improved ways of working, think Safety Differently, Decluttering and Safety 2 which all increase autonomy, mastery and purpose. Ultimately due to the law of diminishing returns, organisations will then be caught between organising from a bottom up perspective to enable the best experience to customers and employees, and top down for capital market and governance purposes.

Person/s who you watch and take inspiration from in H&S that you think will have an increasing impact in the sector:

What are you most excited about in our sector?

Economic, environmental and societal trends bringing insurance, healthcare, government, employers and community together to create shared value and creation of a true sickcare healthcare sector

What’s your favourite quote?

“It’s not the critic that counts…” from Citizen in a Republic by Theodore Roosevelt or “Blame is not for failure, blame is for failing to ask for, or offer help” by Jørgen Vig Knudstorp

Biggest issue facing the H&S profession?

Lack of knowledge and skillset to meet others on their terms, language and needs. If we cannot shift from loss prevention and mitigation of single, perceived linear events we will be relegated to continuing to record history, and not create the future

What do you wish you had understood sooner?

What would you like to see to improve collaboration in our sector?

LinkedIn or the AIHS should have a ‘What am I doing now?’ section so we can connect with those doing similar work to leverage effort, resources and learnings

What should you have been doing whilst you answered this?

2019 Q4 report, reading 2020-2030 National Return to Work Strategy or this

Categories communication, education, OHS, Professional standards, risk, safety, Uncategorized

3 thoughts on “Wade Needham”

  1. Another man spouting jargon! Save us. What has Wade Needham done and why do we need to know his answers to these questions?

    1. I’ve known of Wade for a few years now, and have had the opportunity to chat with him on a number of fronts, particularly around supporting Young and Emerging Safety Professionals through the AIHS. What I find refreshing (and also a challenge) from Wade is his breadth of knowledge and reading beyond the traditional Health and Safety space. While we might not need to know Wade’s answers to these questions, I am challenged to continue to ask more and better questions, beyond the my own bubble of knowledge. Wade is a good example of someone who bursts our bubble of understanding.

      1. Tim,
        Great summary and mirrors my own association with Wade. He is a breath of fresh air and comes to the profession with an eclectic mix of experiences.

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