Professional development is fundamental to the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo being held this week in Salt Lake City, and a key component of that development is the ability to take a hard look in the mirror and assess your abilities and your skills gaps, according to Ashley Alewelt, an EHS manager for Caterpillar, the global manufacturer with more than 290 work sites and about 120,000 employees.

To identify skills and competency gaps, and to reach your career goals, rank yourself on issues such as these:

  • Occupational safety
  • Ergonomics
  • Environmental management
  • Occupational health
  • Composure
  • Decision-making under pressure
  • Listening and probing
  • Motivating others
  • Persuading others
  • Effective communications
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Management systems
  • Industrial Hygiene
  • Transporting hazardous materials
  • EHS vision, strategy and alignment with business goals and strategy
  • Creating necessary organizational dissonance
  • Empathy
  • Diplomacy
  • Organizational politics

“To be sure, we all know what we need to work on,” said Alewelt. “And we can’t be subject matter experts in all the broad areas of EHS. Pick one technical issue and one leadership issue to work on in the next year. Talk to your supervisors and mentors and get their feedback on things you can work on and improve. One of my mentors suggested I work on composure, for example. When I worked in the United Kingdom, I definitely needed to work on my driving skills.”