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Ratna Morjaria: Managing EHSQ Proactively Is Essential to Business

Sandy Smith

The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is: #EachforEqual. Women are encouraged to “actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”

Ratna Morjaria was chosen to be profiled for Intelex Technologies’ International Women’s Day 2020 coverage because she has a proven track record in both implementing and promoting continual improvement processes in the EHSQ space, as well as driving a positive attitude to change management, ESH leadership and continuous improvement across all levels within the organization.

Ratna Morjaria is a dedicated EHSQ professional with over 25 years’ experience in the industry. She is currently works for Corporate ESHQ responsible for Culture, ESH Databases and Compliance Audit Management. She is responsible for developing and driving one Evonik ESHQ culture through the implementation of environmental, safety and health & quality processes, practices and culture across all of Evonik’s sites globally through systems and behaviors. Having held senior positions at Evonik in both the UK and Germany for two decades and supported sites in all regions on an operational basis, she has a proven record of accomplishment in both implementing and promoting continual improvement processes in the EHSQ space, as well as driving positive attitude to change management, ESH leadership and continuous improvement across all levels within the organisation. Ratna has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Chemistry as well as an MSc in Environmental Management, both from De Montfort University, UK.

How did you end up in a career as an EHSQ professional? Was that always your goal or did it evolve over time?

Ratna Morjaria (RM): With my BSc in Applied Chemistry I started as a lab technician 25 years ago at a chemical plant. Having completed a year placement during my year in the water industry, I was actually asked to solve a problem we had with the effluent plant and work with the water authorities to ensure compliance. After resolving this issue, I became the Environmental and Quality Manager, taking responsibility for the implementation of ISO14001 whilst integrating this with the quality and safety standards.

Further to the acquisition I became ESHQ manager responsible for managing a team across two sites, Lower and Upper COMAH sites.

After the success of working closely in Germany, I then took on a role to look after global sites and cemented my career in supporting sites to manage EHSQ culture and enabling the experts to support continuous improvement. 

My goal evolved over time; more due to the fact that the problem-solving skills and managing compliance and leading system processes as well as influencing people. My EHSQ goal was and continues to be to show managing EHSQ proactively is essential to business and whilst seen as a cost, my personal goal is to strengthen the mindset that proactive ESHQ save money on many levels capital expenditures, preventing lost time as well embedding a robust EHSQ culture ensures the company manages unexpected costs behind the scenes.

Were you mentored, either in school or in your first jobs? If so, can you explain how that helped you in your career?

RM: I was never officially mentored but I was very fortunate to have two gentlemen in my very early working opportunities who really showed me how to give in leadership. One gentleman, who was not far from retirement, was during my university placement year in the water industry. He gave me every opportunity to explore and engage as much as possible in the 1-year placement.

The second was a gentleman from the pharmaceutical industry, for whom I worked after university. I moved away after 6 months due to getting married and relocating. He was extremely proactive in his leadership style. [He encouraged me] and [made] sure I learned the full requirements of Good Laboratory Practice. He also allowed me to fully participate in the preparation of a GMP audit.

Both gentlemen really showed me that engagement as leader was the most important asset. More importantly, they were real advocates to encourage women in the industries.

What are some of the challenges facing female EHSQ professionals? Did you experience those challenges and how did they impact you, for example?

RM: I personally believe challenges are really opportunities, the challenge lies within oneself to know that it is. An external challenge has been the need to fulfill diversity goals and to some extent the perceived lack of operational experience. These of course were challenges for me and the impact for me to was to challenge the status quo and actually challenge myself to not hide my operational experience and most importantly articulate technically and passionately my “Why” I care about ESHQ.  It was and still is important to tell my operational story, which I found has drawn colleagues to trust and follow me as a ESHQ leader and most importantly has influenced non-ESHQ colleagues. In a nutshell, the impact was a positive one and this has actually excelled my ESHQ career due to openness and authenticity.

What do you love about your job?

RM: People engagement – being able to explore how many leaders exist in the company – my vision is for everyone to be a multiplier and bring along their personal selves to build a sustainable approach.

Culture – I have a global role and with my EHSQ role I have been able to take things from all cultures to promote best practice but also narrow the gap and perceptions of colleagues that we are all more alike than we think. As a global company aiming for one ESHQ culture, we need to learn and embrace how to move the needle by entwining the different cultures to build one company culture.

Leadership – being a servant leader – I absolutely love laying a platform of opportunity for people to find their potential and seeing this come to life is the best feeling for me.

What are keys to your success?

RM: Challenging the Status Quo. Coming out of my comfort zone. Engaging with people at all levels of the company. Caring and being authentic. My operational experience of being able to connect with people on this level especially as this the greatest number of employees to really move things forward in a positive manner.

What is the most valuable lesson you can share from your career in EHSQ?

RM: Be able to articulate your WHY for your passion for ESHQ topics.

Knowing what you now know, if you had the opportunity to give advice to women just starting out in their careers, what would you say?

RM: Be prepared to articulate your vision. Don’t be scared to show how something can look. It is okay not have everything perfect – believe in the 80/20 principle and know that ESHQ topics require all kinds of experts: respect them all, learn how to utilize your experts and most important be passionate! It is the most infectious quality. Don’t be shy but be graceful and always smile.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

Related articles:

International Women’s Day 2020: #EachforEqual In Tech and EHS

(This blog post is repurposed from the Intelex.com blog. Read more posts from the Intelex blog. 

March 11, 2020 @ 12:56 PM EDT Manufacturing, Chemical Environment, Health & Safety, Operations, Risk Management

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