Life after service

How A Former Army Officer Rose To Lead The Safety And Health Profession

Following a 24-year career in the Army, read how James Quinn became President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

Following a 24-year career as an Army Warrant Officer working around the world, James Quinn has risen through the corporate ranks to be elected President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

An esteemed professional, James is a chartered member of IOSH and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), as well as a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

James’ high-flying post-military career saw him work in a range of senior health and safety roles at global firms including Babcock International and Multiplex.

His next step will be to take on the role of IOSH President from autumn 2020.

Building Essential Skills

As a Warrant Officer, James’ job included many responsibilities – from managing the maintenance, repair and replacement of specialist equipment, to liaising with global defence contractors.

It was during his Army life that James first came across IOSH; he trained with them in 2007 and set out on a path to become a health and safety advisor.

It was through his experiences with health and safety training that he realised that he wanted to spend his career helping other people and recognised the importance of health and safety in building prosperous businesses.

His years in the Forces had also equipped him with key personal qualities – ‘power skills’ or ‘soft skills’ – that are in demand among high-calibre companies, including discipline, tenacity, strategic thinking, leadership, communication and setting high standards.

He began to appreciate IOSH’s value as a professional network, studied and worked to achieve his Chartership and was elected as a council member in 2015.

Securing His Dream Job

James’ first role after leaving the Armed Forces was at Babcock International as a health, safety and environment trainer, then advisor.

Since then he’s worked his way up to leadership roles and he’s currently Senior Health and Safety Manager with Multiplex, an global construction company where he oversees safety and health at the prestigious Chelsea Barracks project in London.

Due to his experience and career success, James was voted in as IOSH President-Elect in 2019, which he describes as: 

“A dream come true."

Promoting H&S Careers To Ex-Service Men And Women And Young People

One of James’ goals as President-Elect is to encourage more young people to work in health and safety and to encourage veterans to enter this profession. He explains:

“We know that a huge number of people move into health and safety from other careers. For example, many enter it having been in the Army, as I did. I would like to think that will continue.”

James is passionate about showing people looking for second careers – both veterans and civilians – that the sector offers great opportunities. He said:

“Veterans understand risk. We see things and figure out how to be proactive and fix problems.

"At my organisation, Multiplex, we’ve launched a veterans’ group, and I’m mentoring someone preparing to leave the Navy to encourage their move into safety and health.

“I am also keen that we tempt younger people into the profession as a first career.

"I’ve enjoyed helping IOSH launch its Future Leaders programme over the past six months.

“Health and safety is being increasingly viewed by leading businesses, such as mine, as a key to improving performance.

"In that way, it really is a great career and having more young people move into it can only serve to enhance it. And my story shows that it’s a tremendous second-career opportunity for veterans as well.”

To find out more about IOSH and the opportunities it offers, visit www.iosh.com

This story is part of Life After Service, a week-long campaign where BFBS will be running positive stories about ex-service people across all its media channels.