Meet the experts:
Nov. 18 2019
In the latest of our Meet the Experts series, we speak with Julie-Anna Smith, head of the renowned Bureau Veritas Technical Centre, about her role, the positive impact that the Technical Centre has on our clients and the challenges she faces.
I am head of the Technical Centre which is our consulting and advisory division. The Technical Centre is a cluster of specialist engineers, mathematicians, and scientists who excel at solving problems and creating innovative solutions to support our customers manage risk.
We help our customers to improve the quality, health, safety and social responsibility of their operations, whilst safeguarding the environment. I get to work across a number of different sectors such as oil, gas & chemicals, power & utilities, banking & insurance, manufacturing, and public authorities. This variety means that we are able to easily transfer best practices across different sectors and are constantly exposed to new ways of working and problem-solving on an hourly and daily basis.
My personal technical specialty is in high risk industries, where it is important to understand the bigger picture on how things work, as well as the cause and effect of hazards and risk mitigation.
Regardless of the industry they are from, all of our clients want to ensure they are effectively managing their health, safety and environmental risks effectively and responsibly.
The challenges are constantly evolving, but I would say the three biggest challenges they currently face are:
Our customers trust us to help them act responsibly, solve problems and manage risk. There is an increasing expectation that we can provide a flexible and agile service which can quickly match their changing needs.
Typically, this means that when a client works with us they want it to be a smooth process, for us to be responsive and to provide advice and support on time when they need it. They also expect it to be accurate and up to date, drawing on best practice systems and standards, with strong communication and a relationship based upon trust.
This is linked to our approach on innovation, which combines not only listening to the immediate needs of our customers, but also evaluating macro-economic factors such as population growth, technology evolution, and political change on a longer-term horizon.
We continue to invest in our people and in technology to help drive our innovation. In the past few years we have also increased our professional partnerships and collaborations, recognising that this often can help us find a solution for our customers much faster than starting from scratch, and I expect that trend to continue.
I think it is important to be thoughtful and consider the assumptions you are making when scoping out a problem with a customer. It is important to ask questions, and ensure that you truly understand the issue, and the risk appetite of the customer.
Also, embrace differences as this can become the cornerstone of sparking new ideas or connections. Constantly be open to learning; the best solutions are never the brainchild of an individual – it requires team work, open dialogue and collaboration.
Our people and the culture our values create is the real difference that we have. We are willing to tell a customer that we don’t know the answer, but will work with them to find a solution together. This requires confidence in our technical abilities to find a solution, and we have a track record of doing it. It’s actually this collaborative spirit which has meant that we are able to convert ideas into practice and the reality of the real world faster.
We have a large team of technical experts across niche topics covering everything from chemical, suspended concentrations, breast milk substitutes and extruder processing, to energy management, soundscaping and building acoustics. There are too many to list so we encourage customers to come with their problems so we can find a solution for them.
Obviously the answer is a risk based approach – we are always striving to ensure that the effort we invest is proportionate to the value it will bring to our customers, which is complemented by strong project management skills.
Good is knowing that our work has made a positive impact in making the world a better place.