From hiking the hidden corners of the Earth, to catching plunging waterfalls, to camping in the middle of the bush, Nikki Bedwell lives and breathes the great outdoors. Discovering new adventures is what Nikki loves to do with her partner and their two dogs — a Border Collie and Rottweiler. And when she came across the Health Safety Environment and Quality (HSEQ) Advisor role at Active Tree Services, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to explore.
Active Tree Services delivers tree and vegetation management services to help ensure public safety through bushfire prevention and tree safety management, or urban greening through tree planting and watering.
From the start, Nikki was attracted to its strong core values of going home safe every day and the deep care for the environment. She says, “Since I’m in health and safety, having a strong safety focus is a big deal for me. I care deeply for the environment and people as well, so as a whole, I thought why not give this new industry a go”.
“I’ve been contracting in the past as an HSEQ consultant and have mainly worked with automotive businesses but also with schools, golf courses and the construction industry. The idea of working in tree services was enticing because I would be working in just one industry, and it’s also a high-risk environment which makes safety more important than ever.”
Actively care for people
An adventurer and avid road-tripper, Nikki loves getting out and going on long drives to visit the crew. She especially enjoys working with different people, at various levels of expertise and with an array of skill sets which she finds refreshing.
She says, “I love the outdoors and getting into the fresh air. Active Tree Services allows me to get out and visit the crew, especially in country areas”.
When asked how she got into the HSEQ profession, Nikki says it was almost by accident. She shares, “I was doing data entry for a friend’s dad who has an HSEQ consultancy business. He asked if I wanted to come along to the client visits”.
And quickly, at just 17 years old at the time, she was invited to contract alongside him.
“What attracted me to a career in safety was the care for people and putting procedures in place to make sure they are looked after. The crew work near powerlines, and it’s a very high-risk job. I’m always reaching out to say hi and to see if everyone is ok.”
“If they feel they need some time off, we encourage them to take time off. It’s about showing we care for people. We also have an EAP program to support them.”
Everyone here is respected
No matter your background, gender or position in the company, everyone is respected at Active. Nikki says, “Everyone is treated with respect here. It doesn’t matter who you pick up the phone and call — everyone is willing to help and work with each other. This is consistent up to the executive level”.
Nikki attributes the strong culture of respect to the fact that the company is still family-owned. She says the owners are passionate supporters— even though they are no longer involved in the day to day running of the business.
Speaking of family, Nikki’s says her father has instilled the value of respect for others — even when they don’t reciprocate.
“I’ve had an interesting upbringing, and it helps that I have always had thick skin. I have respect for people who don’t respect me. I always think that they could have something going on in the background that we don’t know about. No one is going to respect you unless they get to know you.”
Being a young woman in a non-traditional industry has its challenges, but Nikki believes people are good at heart and that there is always someone who has your back.
“Some people may think you’re young or knock you down, but there will always be someone in the corner looking out for you.”
When asked how she feels about working in a non-traditional industry and whether she had any advice to others in a similar position, she says, “I’ve always worked in a male-dominated environment. Everyone here is easy to get along with. I find that the more you put time into people, the more you build the relationships. It takes a lot of patience”.
Encouraged to try something new
Nikki’s achievements include being promoted to work on the big AusNet Contract. She is excited and says, “this new area covers a lot more ground and has a lot more challenges involved”.
Whether it’s implementing something in the field or the office, Nikki says the flexibility and the empowerment to come up with new ideas has allowed her career to thrive in just ten short months. She adds, “there is a lot of flexibility to try and think outside the box. This allows us to create, improve and work together towards a common goal”.
“If I find something that I’m a fan of. I’m able to create a more improved version of what it might be. I’ll communicate with all tiers involved. Active allows me to grow and expand different processes.”
“There are really great opportunities and growing pathways at Active, which makes it a great place to work.”
When asked what her biggest career success tip was, she says, “Always be willing to give things a go. It’s a learning experience, and so, it’s worth it”.