Career Path

A very safe way to a lifetime career

by Isabella Lee

To Yip-lam, safety, health, environment and quality manager, power systems business group, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited
Photo: Edve Leung

For senior executives managing a large number of engineers whose job is to ensure the seamless provision of power supplies to millions of people, technical skills and management knowledge would usually be regarded as the keys to success. These, however, are not enough in the case of To Yip-lam, safety, health, environment and quality manager for power systems business group of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP).

"I believe in the attitude that I always care for the well-being of the people around me," says Mr To. "Similar to one of CLP's core values — 'We care for people' — I think this can be applied all the way along my career path."

Mr To joined CLP after leaving secondary school in 1973. "It was a golden opportunity to start my career with the company's four-year apprenticeship programme," Mr To recalls. "I received a lot of practical training before I'd gained the qualifications to become an engineer. In fact, CLP has been like a parent to me, providing me with all that I need including personal development and continuous education."

In return for CLP's nurturing, Mr To has contributed to the company's ongoing success through his performance and loyalty. "As illustrated by my job title, my major role is to enhance safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) when we provide our power supply services. Safety is always a priority, whether it relates to our employees, customers, the community and even our contractors," says Mr To.

"I always care for the well-being of the people around me"

To promote the SHEQ culture across CLP, his responsibilities include but are not limited to coordinating and facilitating SHEQ projects. In order to achieve the best results, the SHEQ procedures comprise a variety of processes and involve many people, both inside and outside CLP. For instance, to boost safety standards and enhance the quality of work among its contractors, the company offers safety training and support to contractors. "This is a far more practical method instead of merely requesting our contractors to improve themselves. This proactive approach to give training to our partners is a guarantee of improved standards, despite the extra resources and workload it involves," Mr To explains. "But it is exactly the message we would like to deliver to all the employees — that we are not just concerned with ourselves, but also our business partners."

Rewarding career

In 2006, CLP Power received the Gold Award for their project on "Motivating a Participative and Interdependent Safety Culture" in the Safety Promotion Category of the 5th Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Award jointly organised by the Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Council. The awarded project is a showcase of Mr To's belief that zero incidents are the result of the collaborative efforts from all parties involved, namely employees, contractors as well as their family members. Although this recognised Mr To's efforts, he attributes the honour to the cooperation of the 4,000 colleagues in the company.

CLP has launched a Safety Incentive Scheme across the whole company to encourage all employees to contribute relevant workplace safety ideas. A novel twist has been introduced to the campaign to maintain staff interest. Each time a staff member submits a proposal to improve safety, his or her department receives points resembling cash in a bank account. This initiative continues throughout the year so that staff can submit innovative suggestions anytime. At the end of each year's safety drive, the department with the highest points can decide which charity organisations should receive a donation, to the amount equivalent to the points the department has accumulated.

"The campaign has had a very positive result on workplace safety," says Mr To. "Throughout the year the company collects numerous useful ideas, and many have now been introduced on site. At the same time, staff are motivated to make their contributions not just to benefit the company, but also to aid the community — in other words it's a win-win situation all round."

China Opportunities

Since China has a population of over 1.3 billion, and an enormous geographical coverage, it provides correspondingly good prospects for jobseekers in such areas as installation, commissioning, operating and maintenance of power plants. As power plants continue to spring up across China to serve the country's economic needs, so will the necessity for safety procedures in the workplace. This in turn means that engineers with expertise in safety measures will be needed.


Taken from Career Times 19 January 2007, p. B16
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