Although her job is about health and safety, Ni­cole Rosie has taken bold moves in her ca­reer to date

NZ Life & Leisure - - On The Cover - WORDS ALICE NEVILLE

An ad­vo­cate of bet­ter work­place health and safety says com­pas­sion is crit­i­cal

1985-1989 Gis­borne Girls’ High School Born into a fifth- gen­er­a­tion Gis­borne fam­ily, Ni­cole spent her school hol­i­days work­ing at Rosies, a hab­er­dash­ery store that her fam­ily had run since the 19th cen­tury. “We had an idyl­lic life on the beach and I loved Gis­borne Girls, which was very mul­ti­cul­tural.” She was a clas­sic high achiever – a pre­fect and board of trustees stu­dent rep who played sports at re­gional level, was aca­dem­i­cally suc­cess­ful and in­volved in speech and drama to boot. “I was into ev­ery­thing.”

1990-1994 Bach­e­lor of Laws and Bach­e­lor of Arts, Hons, Univer­sity of Otago Ni­cole was ac­cepted into both law and phys­io­ther­apy, pur­su­ing the for­mer be­cause she saw it as a greater op­por­tu­nity to help peo­ple. Dur­ing her fi nal year, a ten­nis in­jury pro­gressed into a chronic pain prob­lem, which ac­cel­er­ated her in­ter­est in the cross­over be­tween law and medicine. “Par­tic­u­larly in the pain clinic at the hospi­tal, see­ing how of­ten the sys­tem was the cre­ator of dis­abil­ity was very con­cern­ing.”

1995-1998 Law clerk, Bud­dle Find­lay; case and claims man­ager, and re­view man­ager, ACC After Otago, Ni­cole worked at law firm Bud­dle Find­lay but left due to her in­jury and be­cause she “wanted to change the world, and I re­al­ized the sys­tem wasn’t work­ing well for peo­ple”. She be­gan work­ing at ACC in West Auck­land, re­view­ing com­plex claims. A month after Ni­cole left, her col­league Janet Pike was mur­dered by a claimant fol­low­ing a pay­ment dis­pute. “That re­ally brought home how com­mit­ted peo­ple were – Janet would do any­thing to help – but also how com­plex the chal­lenges were for peo­ple ac­cess­ing ACC.” 1996-2001 Mas­ter of Laws, Law and Medicine, Univer­sity of Auck­land; health and in­jury preven­tion man­ager, Fletcher Chal­lenge Forests; dam­ages claims man­ager, Work­Safe Queens­land Ni­cole’s Mas­ter of Laws, jointly su­per­vised by the univer­sity’s law and med­i­cal fac­ul­ties, fo­cused on man­age­ment of overuse con­di­tions, for­merly known as RSI. “There was ev­i­dence that things were di­ag­nosed as overuse con­di­tions when they weren’t,” she ex­plains. She set up the ACC self- in­surance pro­gramme at Fletcher Chal­lenge Forests and man­aged health and safety at the com­pany’s sawmill in Waipa, where she took the team through a Toastmasters pro­gramme. It went from the com­pany’s worst- per­form­ing site in health and safety to the best. “We had a whole group of lead­ers, pre­dom­i­nantly Maori men, who ended up lead­ing health and safety change.” Ni­cole then moved to Queens­land with her now- hus­band and worked for the statu­tory body that pro­vided work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion in­surance in the state.

2002-2003 Masters of Pub­lic Health, Har­vard Univer­sity Ni­cole was awarded a Ful­bright schol­ar­ship for Har­vard, where 98 per cent of fel­low stu­dents were doc­tors and health pro­fes­sion­als. “I could im­merse my­self in the med­i­cal side of the equa­tion and look into why doc­tors were in­cen­tivized to di­ag­nose peo­ple even when it was wrong.” 2002-2010 GM risk and strat­egy, Toll NZ; GM safety and pol­icy, Ki­wiRail Ni­cole be­gan work­ing for TranzRail six months be­fore it was bought by Toll. “There had been a po­lit­i­cal spot­light on rail and I was in the hot seat in terms of man­ag­ing reg­u­la­tors and try­ing to keep the busi­ness run­ning while man­ag­ing sig­nif­i­cant un­der- in­vest­ment, and then the sale back to the govern­ment. In be­tween that I had three of my four chil­dren – it was a re­ally busy time.”

2010-2016 Man­ager of strate­gic re­la­tion­ships, Vec­tor; di­rec­tor of health and safety and other roles, Fon­terra After a year in se­nior man­age­ment with power provider Vec­tor, Ni­cole moved to Fon­terra. “They con­firmed the job the day [ her youngest son] Fletcher was born. That showed real pro­gres­sive lead­er­ship – em­ploy­ing some­one who had four chil­dren and had lit­er­ally just had a baby.” Dur­ing her fi ve-and-a- half years with Fon­terra, Ni­cole led ma­jor pro­grammes in­clud­ing Farm Source, aimed at re­con­nect­ing the com­pany with farm­ers.

2016- present chief ex­ec­u­tive, Work­Safe Mov­ing from the pri­vate to pub­lic sec­tor was driven by be­ing “an ab­so­lutely pas­sion­ate New Zealan­der”. “I think we’re start­ing to see a sub­stan­tial change in mind­set – more peo­ple are talk­ing about risk man­age­ment as the right thing to do, not just cost and com­pli­ance.” Fewer ac­ci­dents in high- risk ar­eas is “great news – that’s fam­i­lies see­ing their loved ones who oth­er­wise wouldn’t be”.

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