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Small Talk....with Manjula Chinni

We have asked multiple #safetysisters and #malechampions the same questions, and we want to share their stories, their highs and lows with you.

Meet Manjula!


Tell us what you do and why you do it

I am a Safety Advisor at Xchanging. My role is to develop, maintain and sustain a continual working relationship with our clients, regardless the size, type and location of their business. I work hands-on with our clients, either visiting or based at their sites/location when/where feasible and practical. I also travel to regional or interstate to offer my services, such as facilitating a tailored workshop; conducting a comprehensive audit or a risk assessment, developing procedures/checklists or conducting a forum to obtain first hand opinion that could be considered as part of the organisational safety climate! I also assist in analysis of root causes of incidents/accidents and near misses and provide suitable solution that would reduce or eliminate such occurrences. I enjoy being hands-on and on the shop floor, more than in board rooms or meetings! I have endured my journey (many times) as wife of an injured employee, understand the repercussions of a work place injury that directly affects mentally, physically and morally not only to the injured employee but the entire family, friends at so many levels. That is when I decided to take up formal education within the world of Safety, to understand, identify, research, ask, look, seek for information and possible solutions that would reduce or eliminate incidents and near misses at work places. This has a plethora of advantages in the big picture, providing LONGEVITY.

What keeps you motivated to do what you do

I am passionate about helping employers create and develop, provide and sustain a positive safe work environment thus creating long-term benefits to their organisation and their employees who are dedicated and proud of their skillset and the organisation they are working for. Work place safety discipline (habits), thought process and decisions made based on safety principles becomes one’s second nature. It will benefit everyone in their personal lives thus making this world/society/community not only a healthy but a safe place to thrive, evolve and contribute, to the benefit of all. The more I can influence a positive change towards longevity (of a business or a healthy life of an individual) the better I feel in my personal pursuit towards healthy safe happy world that we live in. if I can protect or save an employee and his/her family from going through the painful (yet insightful) experiences due to a workplace injury (which I personally went through myself), my mission accomplished. I perceive Safety as not only a legislative compliance requirement but safety is way beyond. Fortunately, mental health is also seriously being considered within the domain of Safety in the recent times.

What have been some of your professional challenges, and how did you overcome them

Being a woman, a migrant, new to a mainly male dominant industry within a developed nation like Australia (Melbourne) sure came to me as a jolt which I was not prepared for. Honestly no one was available to help or support my learnings, recognise my passion and understand my determination to contribute towards the OHS industry for all the right reasons. It is my calling I said. I had my fair share of frustrations, disappointments, disillusioned many a times, countless male colleagues and male leaders underestimated my passion and willingness to learn grow and thrive. At the same time, a lot of others felt threatened by my undying passion and eagerness to do more and learn swiftly. I don’t have friends or a mentor in the world of OHS till date. Due to my role and from my previous role I have been able to get to know a few more OHS specialists (Only now). I am continuously studying at the same time, but no one to help or support my OHS academics interests as well.

However, this did not dampen my passion as I kept looking at the big picture when I found myself against a merciless endless brick wall too often than none. I believed in my journey towards OHS, in every failure and disappointment I tried to look for a hidden lesson. I continued to be grateful, humble and loyal to those who were my well-wishers although temporarily. I did not stop learning thinking observing and searching for a foot into the door. I chose to become a member of SIA, was accepted into the OHS Grad Mentoring program, bonded well with my mentor (we are in touch till date) and obtained a project (worked for free invested many hours) within a public hospital. Learnt and gained extra confidence and obtained a referee. My search and endless attempts continued (looking for a suitable opening within the OHS industry, suitable mentor, networking opportunities). I had extremely limited opportunities as I did not receive any support from work, no one wants to know or help or support a woman more so a migrant, more so brand new to the industry!

I had to salvage my sinking confidence, as the time was ticking faster than I thought, my passion was alive but my fear of losing my vision, goal and ambition was getting bigger every passing day. I kept trying, continued applying for jobs, had many rejections that I lost count of, I continued looking applying attending very few interviews, approached agents and I was extremely honest and expressed my undying desire to get into the industry. Eventually I started to find streaks of hope and promise. Today I am living my dream my ambition. I am giving back to Melbourne the nation Australia which allowed me to call this land my HOME. Although it took me more than a decade to get to where I am now, although it was extremely challenging, testing my dedication, perseverance and hard work helped me reach my milestone. I do not cease learning, sharing, giving, supporting and seeking continual assistance and guidance from industry leaders

If you could tell your younger peers any advice, what would it be

Dream, plan, aim, perseverance, dedication, focus, sacrifice, patience is one of those mandatory qualities that any individual requires. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Hard work helps, but never ever give up no matter how hard it may become at times. Love the role, remind yourself why you are there in the first place. Continue to ask questions, seek ideas, never cease learning. Share, give, embrace, help and grow.


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