One year down the line: life as a HSES Graduate

Fiona looks back and shares her experience of the first year as a HSES graduate

Fiona Quinlan

With the arrival of the fresh-faced intake of 2014 graduates just a few weeks ago, I have to confess to having indulged in a spot of reminiscing of late…

This time last year I had just arrived at Centrica; a little nervous, but excited to see what my time on the graduate programme would hold. Twelve months down the line and (cliché alert) I cannot believe how far I have come in such a short space of time.

I will confess that, when I first applied for the HSES graduate programme, I had little real idea what this would entail. I had an interest in environmental issues from my degree background, and spotted a few profiles from previous grads who had followed a similar route, so decided that the stream could be a good fit for me. At that point, I somewhat brushed past the ‘H’, ‘S’ and second ‘S’ of the job title!

Once I was offered a place on the stream, the question of what it would be like in reality became more pressing. As I began to hear more about what the programme would entail (a four month induction period involving a mix of training courses and rotations around the business, followed by three eight month placements across the HSES disciplines) I started to wonder quite what I had gotten myself in for!

Although the HSES graduate stream might not be quite what I expected when I read a short blurb and started my application, in reality it has given me so much more. My previous experience of Health, Safety and Security had been very limited, and if I am honest I joined the stream with little intention to change this. However I soon came to appreciate that, in a high risk industry such as this, each element of HSES is of critical importance in its own right. Health, safety, environment and security are disciplines that must operate in collaboration, and a holistic approach, regardless of whether you have ‘environment’, ‘process safety’, or whatever else, in your job title, is key to our success. Although we come from a wide variety of backgrounds, the HSES job family are a strong community within Centrica, and considerable emphasis is put on developing skills across the board, regardless of what stage you may be at in your career.

From a somewhat bemused reaction at being told to ‘hold the hand rail’ in my early days, to proactively intervening to ensure the safety of myself and colleagues today; I have come a long way as a HSES professional. Whilst I still consider myself an environmentalist at heart, the breadth of knowledge I have gained across the HSES discipline in the past year is something I did not truly appreciate the value of before I joined Centrica, and will stand me in excellent stead wherever I ultimately end up in the business.