We recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Sonia More, instructor in the Environmental and Occupational Health certificate program to discuss her professions and interests.
What type of industry experience do you have that brought you into the teaching environment?
Sonia More was born and raised in a small city in northern British Columbia, Terrace, and has been a safety advisor with the City of Calgary since 2012. Sonia’s 14-year journey in the health and safety field started with a MSc degree in occupational health and safety from McGill University, which progressed into several years of field work at an aluminum smelter, then at a university and now with the City of Calgary. She’s also helping to build the next generation of safety experts by teaching Safety Program Management.
Why did you choose environmental and occupational health as your field of work?
I like helping others to be able to do their jobs safely. My dad worked in the forestry industry and I understood the importance of him being able to come home at the end of the day safely. I really enjoy being a safety advisor since you are constantly learning and advising on a very unique range of safety issues that all result in the same goal. I enjoy being able to combine my interest in health and science, and being able to support any type of industry that people may work in.
What do you enjoy the most about your work in environmental and occupational health?
What I enjoy most would be the diversity of the work. You are able to support any type of industry and that has allowed me to gain valuable experience; each workday is different. I also enjoy learning about all the jobs and the complexities in the areas I support. Ultimately, the most fulfilling part of the job is connecting with staff, and when everyone goes home safe and healthy.
My proudest professional moment is …
The work that I completed for my master’s project at McGill. My project consisted of analyzing the exposure to welding fumes in a metal fabrication shop. This was my first experience working in an industrial setting and I had the responsibility of conducting all of the sampling with limited supervision. In addition to learning the technical aspects of sampling and report writing, I also learned the importance of building relationships with employees, ensuring they are comfortable with the work you are doing and understanding their jobs in order to be able to advise and assist them in working safely.
What career advice would you give to learners who are entering or advancing in environmental and occupational health?
As a new student in occupational health and safety (OHS), I would suggest getting as much direct and indirect safety experience as possible, and to obtain some formal education in OHS—like the University of Victoria certificate program. In terms of direct safety experience, engage in and learn about the safety program in your company. Participate in safety discussions, join worksite committees and work with current safety professionals as your mentors. In addition, look to join safety associations, as many of them offer student rates on membership. In terms of indirect experience, I would say, do your own research on current health and safety topics, incidents, legislative changes, etc. As well, always search what current health and safety jobs are available and learn about the qualifications needed. There are many different levels of safety employment but the key is to have a combination of experience and education in all roles.
After a long day working, how do you unwind?
I like to spend time with my family and stay active with my three-year-old son. In addition, I have played soccer throughout my life, and enjoy playing both indoor and outdoor soccer.
Your main go-to is: desktop, tablet or phone?
With the current environment of working from home, I would say all of the above are being used. As a safety advisor, being mobile and connected is an important part of the role, so the main go-to would be the phone.
Sonia More will be teaching Safety Program Management in May 2022.