Amy McNaughton: Building Safety Culture, Keeping Communication Open

March 11, 2020

The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is: #EachforEqual. Women are encouraged to “actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”

Amy McNaughton was chosen to be profiled for Intelex Technologies International Women’s Day 2020 coverage because she spent 10 years at the start of her career working on the front lines of occupational safety and health and she brings that knowledge and expertise to her work at Intelex Technologies.

Amy McNaughton has worked at Intelex for just over four years and is a Senior Product Consultant. She not only assists clients but also trains and coaches internal employees on working in the industry.  Amy came to work at Intelex following years of working the field for consulting firms and exploration and operational mining companies. She spent 10 years at the start of her career working on the front line of health and safety for operations as diverse as underground mines, oil and gas facilities, manufacturing plants, and retail facilities. She then transitioned to the technology side of things at Intelex, where she uses those years in the field to aid clients and staff in ensuring the products fit the needs of customers. Her focus always has been around safety culture and building behaviour focused training and open communication environments. Amy has worked on three continents, lived in the most remote parts of the world, and has been responsible for the safety and culture of the projects she manages.  

How did you end up in a career as an EHSQ or Tech professional? Was that always your goal or did it evolve over time?

I started my career in HSE working for operational and exploration mines.  I took Environmental Studies in university and honestly went through most of my degree not too sure what I would do when I got out of school. Once I got into HSE, I knew I was in a role that I was going to enjoy. I evolved into tech after 10 years working in the field and I wanted to be in a safer work environment.

Were you mentored, either in school or in your first jobs? If so, can you explain how that helped you in your career?

I was not mentored in university or in my first role in the traditional sense.  It was a matter of jumping in and learning as I went and being very open to asking questions to learn as I went through new experiences. My very first job in HSE, I was sent to a remote project in northern British Columbia and due to flight changes and schedules, I was given a plane ticket, told to arrive at the airport, find my pickup truck in the parking lot that would have keys in the gas tank area, and then drive three hours to our site location.  No one to pick me up [or] walk me through any details… I literally hit the ground running and figured it out as I went along by asking questions. 

What are some of the challenges facing female EHSQ or Tech professionals? Did you experience those challenges and how did they impact you?

In the start of my career and throughout my field work years, I was – in a lot of cases – the only female on site and had to make sure my voice was heard. I had to deal with [some] sexist comments. A tough skin was needed [until] I built up my reputation and my presence on a site. 

What do you love about your job?

What I love about my old position was the different people I got to meet and the interesting and remote parts of the world I got to see. In my current role, I love my immediate team that I work with, the support and camaraderie that we have as a group. We all have our own targets and goals, but we work as a team and help each other whenever someone needs assistance.

What are keys to your success?

Being flexible, being adaptive to different situations, and having thick skin. Don’t ever stop asking questions; if you do not know something, you ask. 

What is the most valuable lesson you can share from your career in EHSQ or Tech?

You are your biggest advocate and you need to have tough skin and stand up for yourself. And again, ask questions.

Knowing what you now know, if you had the opportunity to give advice to women just starting out in their careers, what would you say?

Find something you enjoy doing and find a team that you really enjoy working with. Office politics can make for stressful work environments at times and having a team you truly enjoy working with to lean on can make those long days that much brighter. Do not work in environments that are toxic and negative, because you will bring that home with you and it will impact your life in so many ways.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

International Women’s Day 2020: #EachforEqual In Tech and EHS
Ratna Morjaria: Managing EHSQ Proactively Is Essential to Business
Charlotte Oickle: Standing Firm and Taking Charge While Demonstrating Kindness & Empathy
Margery Moore: Starting My Own Company Was the Only Way To Truly Honor My Dreams and Achieve My Goals
Jonna Pedersen-Killeen: My Goal Was to Always Be Involved in Work that Brought Good to the World
Kristen Duda: It Is Critical to Align Your Personal Values to Those of the Company You Work For