Faces of EHS

Faces of EHS: Brittany Luster on Conquering Self-Doubt

Brittany Luster has been a dedicated Tyson Foods team member since 2013 when she began her career as an Operations Associate at a local poultry facility in Northwest Arkansas. Within her first year, she was promoted to a 2nd Processing Production Supervisor. To advance her career, she transitioned into the role of Enterprise Inventory Management (EIM) Coordinator. This position allowed her to travel the country, learn about different facets of the company. Her responsibilities included training team members on how to effectively navigate and execute numerous SAP transactions.

Currently, Brittany works in the We Care department as an Exposure Reduction Coach. She is responsible for providing leadership direction, coaching, and facilitation of the We Care process to multiple locations including a poultry complex in Southeastern Pennsylvania, a distribution center in Northeastern Kansas, and a distribution center in Eastern Pennsylvania.

For our latest Faces of EHS profile, we sat down with Brittany to discuss how she got her start in the field, the importance of networking, and overcoming self-doubt.

Q: How did you get your start in the field?

I was looking to make a career change just as a close friend had notified me of multiple openings in the field. Having no prior certifications or true experience in EHS, I really questioned whether I’d be a good fit for the position. Here I am, 20 months into this journey and I can say without a doubt, that this has been the best job I’ve held thus far. Stepping outside of my comfort zone has allowed me to find a field that I have become so passionate about. 

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in the industry?

It would honestly be unfair just to name one singular person, so instead I would like to shine light on my women-led department. Safety historically has presented itself as such a male-dominated profession, so to see multiple ladies who have rightfully earned their titles and lead those they manage to be successful professionally, is truly inspiring. Their ability to make me feel valued throughout this transition as a Safety Professional, reinforces that I have made the right transition.

Q: What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?

Honestly, I’d have to say doubting myself and the reason why I say that is because previously I mentioned not knowing if I was qualified for this position. Self-doubt can really sabotage your potential capabilities and lead you down a road of mental destruction. What I’ve since learned is that taking the leap of faith has provided me with the opportunities to become adequately trained in my area of expertise and meet others along the way who are willing to help me succeed on my journey.  

Q: What’s your favorite and least favorite part about working in the industry? Would you change anything

My favorite part by far is collaborating in the field with those industrial athletes who I like to refer to as “subject matter experts” and leaders alike to figure out what’s really going on at the frontline. It’s channeling that passion I have to help educate leaders on ways to reduce exposures for their team while building trusting relationships. My least favorite part about working in the industry, is trying to then get those leaders to recognize when action needs to be taken to prevent an injury or illness from occurring. Sometimes we as humans have become complacent and as the motto goes: “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” which unfortunately can lead to stagnation until an event occurs.

Q: How can company leaders make safety a value within their organization?

Practice what’s being preached. Those closest to the line of work; industrial athletes want to see senior leaders adhering to processes being implemented. Continue to incorporate ideas and successes from those across the enterprise and highlight what has worked well to keep people safe. Most importantly, don’t’ forget to lead with safety. Leaders set the tone for the culture, and it has to be communicated up front as a non-negotiable.

Q: How will safety culture look in the future?

The culture of safety in the future I believe will trend even more towards the installation of technology (robots, AI, digital platforms, etc.) and will require all parties to work harmoniously even more so than they are currently. We are already seeing it take off across many industries, so it would be very naïve of us to think that this isn’t here to stay. We as humans will have to challenge ourselves and mindset to steer clear of “this is always how we’ve done things” in order to navigate towards a culturally safe future.

Q: What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being able to empower those individuals whom I support to look at safety through a different lens. Not just the lens of, “Oh, I have to follow this because it’s a rule,” but instead, “I’m doing this to prevent myself and others from harm!” When people are seeing results, they believe, and when they believe, they want more of what brought them to those positive results.

Here’s a specific example:

After a workshop that I recently facilitated, a tenured supervisor approached me and said how he appreciated the new materials I covered and my enthusiasm during the class because it changed his perspective on how he will interact moving forward with his team regarding safety.

Q: Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Network, network, network! The right connections can get you into doors that sometimes degrees cannot. This includes utilizing social media: LinkedIn is a great start. Outside of that, I’d say attend conferences, connect with EHS professionals in your company and last but certainly not least, find a mentor or coach that will take you under their wing. Nothing can compare to the valuable time, advice and insight passed along during your quest to become a safety professional.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

This is my personal safety vision:

“By leading with safety and living the principles I facilitate at work, I am committed to educating the community on making safe and sound judgments that will not only protect them, but also others around them. I’ll be impactful with my intentions and ensure others are navigating exposures by reducing and/or eliminating them from their daily activities.”