Ep 20 Daniel Scott from $3.8B property giant Cushman Wakefield talks emergency management

Brendan: Welcome to Episode 20 of the Australian Health and Safety business podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, the host of the show. Today, I’m with Daniel Scott who is an emergency management advisor. Good morning, Daniel. How are you?

Daniel: Good morning, I’m very well. Thanks. As yourself?

Brendan: Fantastic today. Thank you for agreeing to come on the show. Tell me a little bit about what you’re currently doing in relation to health and safety.

Daniel: My current remit is actually very specialized which has been very interesting. I’m working purely in emergency management. I’ve been doing that for the last nine months. It’s been really interesting going into a very pointed area of health and safety something that I wasn’t really expecting to happen. I quite enjoyed the general nature of health and safety across the whole lot of different industries, across different groups of people generally not specializing in one particular area. It’s very broad and diverse but the emergency management side has been a very big eye opening aspect for me in this role.

Brendan: I think of emergency management as hopefully something that doesn’t happen too often but does that mean that there’s lots of sort of I don’t know time sitting around between emergencies or is it not like that?

Daniel: No, not at all. This is honestly where I thought it would end up. I actually thought there would be a lot of time between projects and between working on things. Honestly this has been one of the most intense positions I have held in the last it’s been nearly 10 years that I’ve been directly in health and safety in lesser capacities of being in health and safety for 12 years. This has well and truly been the most intense role that I’ve held.

Brendan: What put you down this trajectory? What was the lead up to you putting your hand up to say okay, I’m going to move into emergency management?

Daniel: That is interesting. I came into the service provider industry from chemical manufacturing. I spent a lot of my early career in sort of high risk industry. What actually brought me here was some experience I had with asbestos. We had quite a bit of construction going on in the place that I worked. We had to handle asbestos on a fairly sort of regular basis just because of the legacy of construction materials used in the time that this place was constructed. There was a gap in the business that I ultimately ended up being contracted to that necessitated us to have some experience with asbestos handling and asbestos registers and that sort of thing.

I came in and managed that aspect. I brought them to the common standard of up to best practice. Then from there I went into sort of more generalist health and safety role. This secondary gap opened up. They said, you did quite well with the asbestos side of things. Do you want to manage the emergency management for us? I went sure. That sounds like fun. Not really having a solid grasp of what of this is going to mean. It was very eye opening from the time I came into this role.

Brendan: Do you think that people in the health and safety role or with a health and safety background you get to a point in your career where you learn enough so if you don’t know how to do something all the other experience helps you work it out?

Daniel: Yes, definitely. A lot of my early experience in other industries that I have worked in that I can call on in every role that I’ve held. From communicating with people to finding new and interesting ways to do things there’s always experience that you can on from your early career, from other careers, from friends and family. My dad was a health and safety inspector. There’s a lot of experience to call on there as well. It’s a whole range of places that you can call experience from.

Brendan: Define what is considered to be an emergency in current role. It sounds like it’s ongoing so if an event happens that triggered an after flow of effects after that event or what exactly would be defined as an emergency?

Daniel: There’s lots of things that can be defined as an emergency. Because I work in the financial sector now there’s a whole range of regulatory governance that sits in the background that can impact what is considered an emergency. Where we might have for example a power failure that is considered an emergency because the business needs to be able to continue what is it designed to do. Then the emergency aspects kick in and we start shipping people around from one place to another to make sure that processes can continue. We start looking at making sure that any critical aspects of those jobs are being diverted to other places and that sort of thing. That is all considered an emergency.

That comes from a range of regulatory places in the financial industry but then on a more physical aspect we have say, a building fire for example, a flood, anything like that is also considered an emergency because we have a lot of, it is the financial sector and there’s a lot of folks on the financial sector at this point in time we’ve got to look at things like aggressive or angry customers. We’ve got to look at aspects of a potential for a lone shooter or something along those lines. We’re always looking at what potential emergencies crop up.

Brendan: It’s not just reactive. It’s also being proactive to make sure that if it hits the fan you’ve got all the systems in place to act pretty quickly.

Daniel: That is exactly right. That takes up the bulk of the job to be honest. There’s not a lot of reactive aspects to this role which is good.

Brendan: Give us a flavour for the size of the organization that you’re working for in terms of are they looking after properties or how many staff? What is the geographical footprint?

Daniel: The geographical footprint of the organization that I work for being Cushman and Wakefield is global. They have offices all over the world predominantly America, Europe but then we’ve got a growing footprint in the Asia Pacific region as well which is really good.

Brendan: I’m just having a quick look online. It’s listed on the New York Stock Exchange $8 billion of revenue per annum in 2018. It’s pretty big.

Daniel: They are quite big. The US stock exchange is a recent development as well. That only happened last year. It’s a big step forward for the organization which is great.

Brendan: They essentially manage big office blocks do they? Is that the main core of the business?

Daniel: There’s really two main cores of the business. One core of the business is real estate sales and the other side is property management we look after. We look at quite a few large office blocks around Australia and in Asia. We also contract out to other organizations to look at their real estate for them. It’s a full end to end service provision.

Brendan: I guess that would be interesting with as you were saying with some of those older buildings maintaining asbestos registers and even some of the technology in buildings now. It really varies depending on building ratings and all that sort of thing.

Daniel: It does very much so. With the way technology is running now there’s a much bigger focus on stay in touch with what is happening in that space and making sure that we’re keeping abreast and putting steps in place to make sure that these things are taken care of that our customers remain in the forefront of these things as well.

Brendan: Does your role go down to things as micro as office block we’re looking after in Melbourne, the air conditioning systems have malfunctioned and it’s either too hot or too cold?

Daniel: It goes right down into that detail. That then means that we’re dealing with building managers, property managers, owners and making sure that we’re keeping on audit that they are keeping on top of those things that those air conditioners are being properly maintained. Every aspect of the building is being maintained appropriately. We have a very strong connection with the landlords, with building managers and owners and then down into the employees as well. I deal very directly with employees in the emergency management front.

Brendan: How big was the emergency management team?

Daniel: There’s one of me. I look after the emergency management of the company that I’m contracted to. Then I’ve got at the moment around about a thousand wardens and then we’ve got first aid staff on top of that as well. It’s quite a big role.

Brendan: Even managing just the training must be massive with the different wardens and first aiders in different places.

Daniel: We have contracted that to a third party, the delivery of the training but then it’s also making sure that each location knows that the training is coming that they are able to take people away from their core job to sit through training say 45 minutes to an hour. There’s a lot that goes into that to organizing those aspects.

Brendan: It sounds like it would be really interesting. There would never be a dull moment with all those moving parts. I mean constantly putting out fires I’d imagine.

Daniel: That is very true. It is. It’s getting better the more that we’ve been focusing on these things and we’re getting a lot of, I’d have to say credit to the senior management of the group that I work for. They are extremely committed to making sure that this works properly. That in itself has been one of the best.

Brendan: If it is being led from the top then everyone knows how important it is.

Daniel: Yes, definitely. The support is fantastic for this which is really good.

Brendan: I guess for the listeners that maybe they’ve just finished their health and safety degree at uni or something like that. Would you have any advice on how they can start their career in health and safety because it seems like how did you get to where you are? What was your sort of pathway?

Daniel: My pathway is a little bit uncommon. When I started working for in chemical manufacturing I started out as a casual worker on the floor and I didn’t have any formal qualifications or anything at the time. I got really curious about how we made sure that the products that we were handling, the way that we were handling them that all the processes that were in place were adequate that they were in fact keeping you safe. That got me into looking at safety data sheets. Then from that it got really closely tied in with the safety officer at the time. It was his encouragement that led me down the path to studying a diploma and then from that I was given a role in health and safety, a minor role in health and safety. I was develop and maintain and monitor processes and make sure that what we were doing was genuinely safe.

From there I decided that I wanted my career trajectory to go down the route of health and safety and are committed to studying a degree. That was how I got to ultimately where I am now is down to just being just really curious about what was going on at the place that I was working and having that questioning mentality of is this genuinely safe not sort of saying this is not safe. It’s all about understanding that what you’re doing is safe and having the right processes in place to not deviate from what is the accepted process and what is the genuinely safe practice. That was what really got me down this particular pathway. From there I wanted to expand it to different industries and look at more senior and leadership roles in health and safety. That is what landed me where I am now.

Brendan: Do you think that if you look at sort of tertiary studies or some kind of a cert or a diploma of WHS versus just practical experience? Do you think is it both?

Daniel: Yes. You can have a lot of book knowledge but applying book knowledge in a practical world is very difficult. I think that is where some industries run into problems is that there’s a very strong focus on book knowledge rather than practical understanding of what is actually going on. That is to the detriment of the industries that go down those roads. I think one of the great things about safety is that it’s really been built on practical knowledge rather than book knowledge. Book knowledge is being sort of more and more well attributed to the industry but there’s still a big focus on practical.

Brendan: It sounds like you started doing practical stuff and then you went down and got the quals and study to back that up and practice up some theory.

Daniel: That’s it. I think that is where this industry really has been born from which is a big benefit to the success of the industry but also I think it’s been a detriment to the way that some people view the industry. That view I think is steadily changing which is really good.

Brendan: That is great Daniel. I’ve just got five short questions to ask you before we wrap up today. Can I ask how old you are?

Daniel: I’m 34.

Brendan: What do you like to do to keep active or fit?

Daniel: I run. That is my mainstay but I also get up early in the morning but I have a workout regime early in the morning. I do push ups, sit ups, chin ups. That is sort of daily workout routine.

Brendan: How many hours sleep are you getting each night?

Daniel: I don’t want to talk about that.

Brendan: I hope all these emergencies aren’t keeping you up.

Daniel: No. I’ve got other things to do that sometimes keep me up at night but I do attempt to get anywhere between, I have to be honest. I don’t get any more than six hours sleep at night. I try in between four and six but that is my sleep ratio. I do not recommend that for everyone. I would say that right out loud but I function quite well on that.

Brendan: I guess you have to know what your own limits are. If you could remembered for something over your career in health and safety what would you like to be more remembered for do you think? It could be something small as well so whatever comes to mind.

Daniel: I like to be remembered for making health and safety not scary, not a problematic issue for everybody. That is what I would like to be remembered for.

Brendan: If people want to connect up with you what is the best way of getting contact do you think?

Daniel: LinkedIn is a really good way.

Brendan: Search for Daniel Scott on LinkedIn.

Daniel: You’re more than welcome to throw my phone number up as well. I answer my phone all the time.

Brendan: If you’re happy to share that.

Daniel: I’m more than happy to share that. Part of the reason for that is since I’ve got into the emergency manage space I’ve realized it’s really been a part of the industry that hasn’t had a lot of focus but it really needs it. It’s something that can be a really strong factor in a well-balanced and well-functioning health and well-functioning health and safety system in the business.

Brendan: Do you want to share your number now or you can give it to me offline. I can put it in the show notes whatever you prefer.

Daniel: I’m happy to do both. My number is 0405029675.

Brendan: Thanks very much Daniel. Remember everyone if you’ve been enjoying the show don’t forget to subscribe and share the episodes with friends. See you next time.

Daniel: Thank you so much Brendan.

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