Sara Blackmore has been Associate Director of RSK Asbestos for over a year, and describes the role as “extremely varied”. Here, she describes her work in a team that is growing more and more, and the challenges she faces day-to-day.
“After I graduated from university with a degree in environmental geology, I struggled to find a career opportunity,” says Sara.
“I stumbled across an advert for a trainee asbestos surveyor at a UKAS-accredited company in 2004 and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Now, 18 years later, I have been lucky enough to gain a wide range of experience through varied roles in the environmental and asbestos industries, working for various asbestos consultancies and international, multidisciplined environmental consultancies,” she explains.
Ironically, although this is a ‘day in the life’ story, Sara says that one of the main things she enjoys about her job, and working for RSK, is that no day is ever, or not often, the same as another!
“There are always new exciting projects and enquiries,” she says. “A main focus of my role is training, so I manage the training aspect of our business and I am often delivering training, either face to face or via Teams.
“I am quite excited about the new training module I am currently working on, called ‘Managing Asbestos in Soils’, which has given me the opportunity to collaborate with RSK Geosciences who we often work with on projects, and I have increased my understanding through their knowledge and experience.
“Another aspect I really enjoy is the opportunity to build professional relationships with our clients by being involved with quoting, setting up projects, client queries, project delivery, providing consultancy services such as development of management plans and safe systems of work, and helping clients develop their asbestos policies and procedures.
“It is always rewarding knowing you have helped a client improve their compliance and have provided the support they need,” she adds.
But are there any challenges in Sara’s job?
“Personally, I find the biggest challenge in my role, and probably the only downside to having such a varied and interesting role, is remembering everything! I have a lot of lists and spreadsheets,” she admits.
“But, without a doubt, I think probably the best part of my role is our team. Despite us all being located in various parts of the UK, video calls enable us to communicate daily in a personable way.
“From site staff, to project managers, to senior management, we all support each other, and I have felt included as part of the team since the first day I started.”
Sara adds, “The RSK Asbestos team is relatively small, but we are growing rapidly. We recruited several trainees who are now qualified and getting signed off for site work, which is exciting as we are increasing our capacity to meet our increase in project demand.”
And Sara has noticed that, since the pandemic, one of the main changes in her job is an increase, and change of attitude towards, using video for meetings, conferencing and, more notably, training.
“There are many advantages of this, such as reducing my carbon footprint and being much more economical with my time, but before the pandemic asbestos training was always face to face,” she recalls.
“However, due to the circumstances, much of the asbestos training has been adapted to be delivered virtually, which seems to benefit clients as it reduces fees owing to the reduction of time and mobilisation costs.
“Although I have to say I believe training is more beneficial for the delegates when face to face, and that has to be included for certain courses, nevertheless, the benefits and convenience of virtual training have meant that this form of delivery has remained a very popular part of my role,” Sara says.