Brian Fleck has been involved in the field of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) for more than 25 years. For our latest “Faces of EHS” profile, we sat down with Brian to discuss how he got his start in the industry, his biggest influence, as well as his thoughts on trends and best practices for the EHS industry, including how company leaders can make safety a value within their organization. According to Fleck, it all starts with a having a service mindset.
“Company leaders must make servant leadership a daily goal,” Fleck recently shared with EHS Daily Advisor. “The “command and control” way of leading may work for a short time, and in times of crisis, but sustainable success only happens when leaders understand that they are charged with care of people and are not in charge of people. Trust and transparency are also vital for engagement and fostering a culture of care. My servant leadership values motivate me to not only help others learn and improve, but also partner for operational excellence.”
In our latest Faces of EHS profile, meet Brian Fleck, Americas BBS and Sr. HSSE Advisor at Shell Oil Company. Fleck collaborates with employees at all levels in the organization to help improve EHS and sustainability.
How did you get your start in the field?
I got my start in the field with a Co-op at ARCO Chemical Company in Newtown Square, Penn., while still in college. This helped pique my interest and provided me with experience before finishing my undergraduate degree. It also helped set me apart from others when I got my first job out of college with Ryder Truck Rental.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?
My biggest influence was a supervisor I had while at Ryder named Ed Corbally. Ed helped shape not just who I am professionally but personally as well. His model of faith, family and then work (in that order) is something that has stuck with me in my career and in life.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?
My favorite part about working in safety and health is helping people and striving for continuous improvement. We must constantly be looking for ways to learn and improve to help people go home to their families. My least favorite part is the administration part of the job. One way we are trying to improve this is by using technology to help reduce paperwork and digitalize safety efforts, either by doing pauses, reporting near misses or by doing inspections and hazard hunts.
Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or seeing any current trends?
There is obviously a trend towards technology and data to help identify and mitigate safety risks. We are also moving towards a “new view of safety” focusing more on building capacity, human performance, and resilience and less on lagging indicators and reactive safety.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of knowing that the work I do helps to make a difference in people’s lives not just at work but more importantly at home. It is hard to put a number on how many incidents have been prevented, but through instilling a culture of “Continuous Improvement” and “Care” we can know that things have been made that much better.
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
If you have opportunities to get experience (even while still in school) do it. There is no better learning than happens through experience. Always strive to be a continual learner – whether it is through books, podcasts, networking, or certainly experience.