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Season 3

Episode 6 with Joy Kuhns: Extraordinary Leaders New Zealand, Leadership Developer and Facilitator, Experienced Executive Leader Silicon Valley and NASA.

Health and Safety Leadership

"Invest in soft skills; there's a report from the World Economic Forum of the 10 top skills needed today and in the future, seven of them are soft. So, investing in those, being able to communicate and influence, and finding the right support, that's what I'd recommend." Joy Kuhns

A seasoned professional originally from New Zealand, who has spent a significant part of her adult life working in Silicon Valley. Her career began in the dynamic world of startups, where she played an integral role in operational development, including hiring staff and establishing policies and procedures. This experience granted her a deep understanding of the nuances involved in running a business, from its inception to its growth phases.

Joy's professional journey took a remarkable turn when she joined a company at NASA’s Research Center. Her tenure at NASA coincided with the tragic Columbia shuttle disaster, an event that profoundly influenced her approach to health and safety. At NASA, she was closely involved with the scientists who developed thermal protection systems and coatings for the space shuttle, providing her with unique insights into safety protocols and risk management in complex and high-stakes environments.

Here are our top takeaways:

Importance of Detail in Health & Safety:
Joy emphasises the critical role of attention to detail in health and safety management, citing examples like ensuring safety in diverse workforces, including the importance of language and cultural considerations in safety practices, and the impact of stress on workplace accidents.

Practical Safety Interventions:
She shares practical insights, like the importance of safety interventions in high-pressure environments and learning from incidents, such as the necessity of proper electrical wiring to prevent accidents, highlighting the complexity of safety management.

Aligning Strategy with Safety:
The conversation shifts to aligning organizational strategy with health and safety, stressing the importance of diversity in teams, developing emotional and leadership skills, and the value of mentorship and training for both emerging and senior leaders.

Comprehensive Approach to Safety:
Joy advocates for a comprehensive approach to safety, including emotional intelligence and communication skills, learning from past incidents like her experience with the Columbia shuttle disaster, and the necessity of a balanced mix of technical knowledge and soft skills for effective health and safety management.

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