Rick Newlove didn't waste any time getting his feet wet.
During his first few days as the new Manager of BC Operations with Enform, the safety association for Canada's upstream oil and gas industry, he attended the 2011 Fort Nelson Energy Expo on October 21 and 22 and the 2011 CrossRoads Conference in Prince George on October 24 and 25.
Newlove didn't see that as being thrown into the fire so much as being given a great opportunity to quickly transition into his new role.
"I think it's a really good way for me to network and meet the people that I'm going to be needing as contacts to develop my role with Enform," he said. "Obviously, the oil and gas industry, the key safety people that are at these conferences are the ones that I need to communicate with to try and ensure that we develop a safety program or they're onside with Enform. Or even ask for input from industry."
"We're a safety agency by industry for industry," he added. "So, we need to develop those communication chains in order to get the direct feedback from the clients."
Although not always involved with the health and safety side of the industry, Newlove has been involved in the natural resources sector for years. After earning an education in electronics and toiling in that field for four years, he made the move to forestry, which brought him up to the Fort St. John area to work for the forest district.
"I was reviewing oil and gas program applications," he said of his job during that period.
"And I think forestry is a good background knowledge for oil and gas development, because there are obviously impacts to the forest resource," Newlove continued. "So, you have the knowledge of how to remediate those impacts as well as try and reforest or reclaim the sites as best as you can after the activity has gone."
Newlove transferred his forestry background and his related experience with the permitting side of the oil and gas industry to the BC Oil and Gas Commission, where he spent ten years in roles ranging from geophysical manager to his final position as a director concerned with safety and emergency response.
"I was in compliance and enforcement," he said. "I spent a couple years actually inspecting drilling and service rigs. I was also compliance enforcement regional manager. So, from my Oil and Gas Commission experience, I got a lot of regulatory background - which is an asset for this role - as well as a technical understanding."
"I think if you looked at the majority of the leadership with the Oil and Gas Commission, many of them came from forestry," he continued, discussing his successful transition from one sector to the other. "And I think having a resource background is beneficial to any training role or anything in oil and gas, because there obviously is going to be some impacts to the forest resource when you do oil and gas [development]."
His experience with health and safety continued to grow after accepting a job with Northern Lights College, where he taught many of the safety courses in the industry training programs. It wasn't easy for Newlove to leave the familiarity of the college, but he has no regrets about his decision.
"I'm really pleased to be here because it pulls a lot of my background and training together all in one specific location," he explained.
"I'm very happy to be with Enform," he continued. "And in managing the Fort St. John office, I'll be the key B.C. spokesperson for Enform. So, that's a pretty promising position."
"Obviously, I can touch base with a lot of the Calgary support network. There's a huge amount of technical expertise on the Calgary side, as well as the leadership side. I'm building my career. I'd like to strengthen all my abilities, including leadership. And I think this a very strong organization to be able to accomplish that."
Newlove was also encouraged to accept the position by his past interaction with Enform and their staff.
"I probably wouldn't have taken the role if the relationships were poor," he said. "I think I've had extremely good relationships with Enform in the past, including the previous managers in my position."
As for what he can bring to Enform, Newlove is confident that he has the knowledge and passion necessary to succeed as the Manager of BC Operations.
"I want to make sure that the industry is safe," he said. "From all my roles in the oil and gas industry, I'd worked to try and ensure that the industry is safe. And I think they're doing a great job in ensuring that is the case."
"The passion for safety is probably one of the main things that I can probably bring to the role."
Ultimately, Newlove is excited for this opportunity to positively affect the safety culture of the entire industry.
"Unlike getting employed with a specific oil and gas company, I can help change the corporate safety structure of all of them," he explained. "And that was a pretty key role in why I moved over to Enform."
"I think there's always room for improvement," he added. "I think the industry's come a huge way over the last decade in taking safety as an important factor in the oil and gas industry. Many, many years ago, I think they had the nickname of the killing fields. And Enform and its predecessor have probably been key in dispelling that original history to the point today where the forestry sector has many more injuries and deaths than what the oil and gas industry has. And I think Enform has come a long ways to help promote the culture of industry in promoting safety."