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Michael Mason

Age: 35, director of personnel & safety, Van Elle, UK

Route to the job
I started as a site foreman for Van Elle in 1995. Van Elle prides itself on encouraging development and promotion from within and with this in mind I approached my divisional director Alan German at the end of my first year to discuss personal development and career opportunities. As a result our chairman Mike Ellis rang and offered me the position of safety and training officer for the Van Elle Group. This required me to attend college on day release to gain NEBOSH and NVQ assessor qualifications. In 2000 I was made safety and training manager and last year I was appointed to the main board of directors, responsible for safety, training and personnel.

Typical day
The combination of geotechnical engineering and people means I start everyday open minded as to where I will be and what I will be dealing with - but like all jobs there are routine tasks that have to be done so time must be allocated to making progress and improvements. Some days I feel I have achieved a great deal, other days I work very hard and feel as if I have achieved very little, probably much like everyone else in the industry.

Highs and lows
Van Elle has achieved a great deal in safety and training related areas - and I am proud of our safety record and the opportunities we provide to our employees through training. We were the first company in the UK to be accredited as a CITB/City & Guilds NVQ assessment centre for underpinning operations and one of our employees was the first in the UK to gain a Level 2 NVQ in underpinning. Any accident resulting in injury to people is a low.

Ambitions
To integrate health, safety and training fully into the business. Personally I never imagined I would be sitting on the main board of directors back in 1995, If I continue progressing at a similar rate who knows where I might be in 2011!

Advice
Knowledge, experience, communication and hard work are key to doing any job well. Communication is the key in personnel and safety as you have to deal with all kinds of people, in all sorts of circumstances.