HALIFAX – The Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) kicked off its annual Professional Development Conference in this city with a keynote from the guy who literally had a picnic on the deck of the Titanic.
Renowned ocean explorer Joe MacInnis, who has led numerous deep-sea research expeditions in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, gave an account of his extraordinary experience of being one of the first explorers to dive the Titanic. During this time, he worked alongside Academy Award winner James Cameron.
“When you are three miles below the surface of the ocean there are two fundamental rules and they apply to you and your profession,” MacInnis told more than 600 safety professionals. “Number one: take care of each other, and number two — take care of each other.”
During his career, MacInnis has been responsible for the health and safety of more than one thousand commercial, military and scientific divers, leading the development of systems and techniques to ensure divers’ safety in extreme freezing water temperatures.
MacInnis has spent the past few years studying the structure and dynamics of leadership in life-threatening environments. He said that in the course of his research, he found there are 12 essential elements of “deep leadership.” Among them: cool competence, powerful presentation, physical toughness, strategic imagination, hot zone humour, team genius, warrior honour, mental resilience, fierce ingenuity, resolute courage and high empathy communication.
High empathy communication, for instance, is the leader’s ability to offer the gift of confidence to the people they lead, MacInnis said.
In his keynote address, MacInnis also drew a parallel between the sinking of the Titanic 98 years ago and Deepwater Horizon, BP’s oilrig that exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. “It wasn’t the failure of technology that sank the titanic or the Deepwater Horizon; it’s a failure of leadership.”
MacInnis urged safety professionals to take advantage of the conference and look at it as a chance to enhance “your personal leadership in the subject of safety.”
Over 680 safety professionals from across Canada attended this year’s CSSE Professional Development. Close to 60 exhibitors in the occupational health, safety and environment fields participated in the trade show, according to CSSE president Art Nordholm.
In his address, Nordholm noted this year’s conference theme, Prevention — Global Vision, Local Practice. “Every one accident is one too many, no matter where in the world the accident happened.”
This year’s three-day conference included seven workshops and close to 30 sessions, and featured executive coaching and resumé critiquing session with leadership coach, Deborah Colman.