Young Hygienist Snapshot: Mabely Wise [International Edition]

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I meet Mabely Wise back in 2013 at AIHA’s CIH preparation course in Ann Arbour, Michigan where we quickly bonded, grumbling over calculations.  Lucky for me we have stayed in touch and even got the chance to catch up at AIHce in San Antonio last year.

Mabely was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and for over five years has provided Occupational Health and Safety consulting services to employers in North and South America. Since 2013 Mabely has been working in the role of Product Stewardship Specialist with Materion Brush Inc, a role that she very much enjoys, captivating her interest to continue learning and growing in this discipline complementary to industrial hygiene.

So some of the things that Mabely loves: Travelling, meeting people, dancing (she is Columbian after all!), playing play spy games (and winning!), being connected with awesomeness (God) and watching and cheering Colombian soccer games (Yes, the team of James Rodriguez, the World Cups Golden Boot! amongst many other Columbian Soccer Stars 🙂 …. “Proud Smile”

So here’s 5 mins with Mabely:

1. Best location I have worked: This is difficult to respond without being biased and unfair…of course that I would say due to my ties to my native city that Cali, Colombia is the best location that I have ever worked in! (just think about it…awesome weather, people, food, lots of fun that without mentioning the endless opportunities to make a difference right there in the spot on workers’ health protection), but I’d most say that being in the USA and having the opportunities to work in St Louis, Missouri and currently in Cleveland, Ohio have given me the opportunity to expand and grow my professional experience exponentially in IH while fulfilling with my mission of protecting workers health, for which I am very grateful.

2. The best thing about my job is: Helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to protect the health of their workers. I work as a Product Stewardship Specialist, and thanks to the all-encompassing Product Stewardship Program at Materion Brush Inc., I have had the opportunity to support the EHS Programs of SME in the USA and that fulfils my heart! We do so by visiting our customers, vendors and fabricators (who at several occasions are SME’s) to educate them on how to safely use and handle our materials and to provide them as needed with related EHS services, including; air monitoring and exposure control reports at no cost…and for me, that rocks!

3.Career Highlight: Again, supporting SME’s to develop their EHS programs and protect their workers’ health. In my opinion, SME’s are in great need of our services but unfortunately due to either a lack of resources or resourcefulness, employers at these enterprises struggle to keep up with health and safety standards, consequently the health and well-being of their employees are jeopardized.

4. If you want to be an Occupational Hygienist, you’d better get used to: Being flexible and to temporarily giving up access to some commodities (bathroom, water, tea or whatever you drink). Also, you better get used to being surrounded by a circle of passionate and “science nuts” professionals, thus you must be willing to keep up with the professions scientific developments and be eager to continue learning and updating yourself in matter related to your career.

5. People normally think my job involves: Cleaning teeth or cleaning facilities.

6. The best thing I’ve been asked to do was: To participate in the American Industrial Hygiene Association 2014 Future Leaders Institute Program, that was an honor!

7. The worst thing I’ve been asked to do was: Hasn’t happened quite yet…still waiting for that “crazy” challenge.


AIHA FLI Reflections….Pinky Bhatt

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Part of the application process for the AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute involved submitting a “Statement of Interest”. A one-page document was really all you got to sell yourself to the judging panel that you were serious about attending the Future Leaders Institute (FLI).

Pinky Bhatt is a fellow FLI graduate, and she was commended for her submission. She was generous enough to share it with me, and when I read it, I started to realize that for some of us, that commitment to learning and leadership has been a process in the making for a very long time. It certainly put my application to shame!

Pinky is an Industrial Hygienist based in India. Although she had a degree in Chemical Engineering, after she married, she was left with no choice but to stay at home. She volunteered her time to a local school, which was over 10km’s away (which in India, is probably as difficult as me travelling 50kms in Sydney!), and began teaching children. From there she volunteered to the development of an effluent treatment plant, and went back to University shortly after the birth of her first child. She received a gold medal from the University for her efforts and ended up working in Industrial Hygiene shortly after. You can start to realize the level of dedication when the University she went to required her to travel over 450 km’s away!

Pinky doesn’t seem like the type of person who is satisfied with only a little bit of knowledge. She went back to University to study science in parallel to completing six intermediate modules from the BOHS at the same time. Serious dedication.

Pinky now has global responsibilities as an Industrial Hygienist across South East Asia and manages a large team as a Project Manager. Pinky credits the leaders that she has been lucky enough to work with for part of her success in her career. But given everything she has achieved in a relatively difficult part of the world, it’s clear to me that this lady has put in the hard yards and demonstrated her commitment to learning.

Congratulations Pinky and great to meet you!

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AIHA FLI Class of 2015. Pinky Bhatt pictured in the front row, third from the left.

FLI Graduate Insights – Brandon Reese

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A total of 35 people went through the AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute FLI this past month. That’s 35 opportunities to tell the story on what it’s about, and how valuable developing those leadership “soft skills” are to an otherwise very technical profession.

Brandon Reese was one of those people. Brandon is somewhat of an honorary Australian, given that he worked in Perth servicing remote mines in WA and beyond for some time, and he has graciously offered his insights on what it was like for him:

“An important part of the work of an Occupational Hygienist is to be a leader in their own way.  This facilitates the ultimate goal of protecting worker health by having the skills and tools to influence other leaders to make the right decisions”

Attending FLI was a great opportunity to meet with a diverse group of individuals from different, industries, cultures, and backgrounds.  One might wonder how you can teach everyone to be a leader given that they are so different.  But we have one thing in common, we all work toward protecting worker health and elimination workplace illness.

People who attend FLI are more likely interested if not somewhat pre-disposed to being a leader, so it’s a great time to network and learn from other professionals who could be contributors to the profession one day.

In order to help us on our quests to be leaders, we were provided tools, concepts, and theory which we can take back to our workplaces and develop. 

The AIHA for me has been the backbone and support for my professional quest.  Because they have a learning focus, I continue to learn long after graduation. None of this is possible without the generous contribution of individuals and organization who share a common value of protecting worker health. As such a special thank you goes to the sponsors.

AIHA Future Leaders Institute (FLI) Impressions

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I was fortunate enough to attend the FLI program this past weekend hosted by the AIHA. It brought together a great bunch of people from diverse backgrounds, roles, and cultures, but we all had one thing in common which was a drive and a passion for our profession as industrial hygienists….which therefore made it one of the best weekends of my professional career!

I will admit that if I hear the term, “group exercise” or “group assignment”, I normally go into a state of depression and frustration. But there were many group exercises as part of FLI, and they were actually pretty awesome. They seemed to centre on the fact that we all needed to know each other better and by continuously changing up the mix of who was in the group, and the number of people in the group, it became very engaging and actually pretty interesting.

The program was facilitated by Jeffrey Cufaude who was absolutely fantastic, made even more amazing with his heavy awesome accent which I adored. Jeffrey went to great lengths to help us along our “leadership journey”, and although he couldn’t promise that we’d be leaders in 30 days (must sign up for that course!), he definitely steered us on to the right path. I especially loved the “conversation cafe” which was on the morning of the last day – a great idea!

I was  inspired to take on new challenges and to engage others on that journey. I learnt how to be a better listener and how to go about a better way of doing things by having a greater appreciation of how others may view the situation at hand. I was motivated to continue to do my best to promote our profession given the many people who came up to personally thank me for getting this blog started and for offering their feedback and suggestions, and assistance in the future (thanks for the support!).

I was also in a tad state of #hygieneshock (yes, new term) as we were treated to an afternoon session with some AIHA luminaries (aka #hygienegods). After conversing with a lovely man next to me for a bit, I almost fell over when I realised it was Billy Bullock (from “Ignacio & Bullock” fame). You will probably really only know what I am talking about if you are an IH, so to put it into perspective, it’s kind of like meeting Einstein, if Einstein was clever enough to be an industrial hygienist. Yes I did ask for an autograph. Yes I had to convince him I was serious. Multiple times.

I was also very excited to find out that out of a group of around 35 people, that another Aussie was also lucky enough to be part of it. Amazingly we have both worked in the profession for a long time, know many of the same people, and have been to the same AIOH Conference many times. It was a bit sad that we both had to fly over 22-hours away to meet each other, but we got there in the end! Here is Andrew Bennett and I in front of the White House, which was part of the Washington D.C. night tour held on the second night which was amazeballs.

I personally took away a great deal from the program and am very grateful to the AIHA, the FLI Advisory Panel, and to the numerous sponsors who supported the program to make it a reality. Now one of the challenges for me is to figure out how to channel this great experience to help other hygienists along their leadership journey…so stay tuned!

Getting ready to meet some #hygienegods at #AIHAFLI

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On Sunday I’m making the treck from Pennsylvania down to Virginia for the AIHA’s Future Leaders Institute (FLI) program.

I honestly don’t know too much about it, other than if Perry Logan (#hygienegod) is involved, I know it’s going to be good. Perry presented at the AIOH Conference in Sydney last year about FLI. He spoke about leadership, and the fact that occupational hygienists need to be able to communicate and interact with a wide spectrum of people effectively.

You see, occupational hygiene is both an art and a science. You could be the best in the world at measuring and assessing exposure to a certain chemical, but if you can’t change a bad situation, or “positively influence and effect change” then, all of your good work will go to waste, and ultimately there was no point to it.

The FLI (as I understand it) focusses on individual and organisational leadership which includes things like: personality assessments (which I assume will just tell me how awesome I am, surely!); understanding different styles, building leadership foundation elements; the fundamentals of teamwork; strengthening professional organisations; leadership in technology; and creating a compelling future together.

It all sounds great to me! But apart from looking forward to being a part of FLI, I’m also secretly looking forward to sitting in a room full of occupational hygienists and not having to explain what I do for a living!