Kate Lindsell

Kate Lindsell

Kate has been at the University of Exeter for two and a half years and previously worked in an acute NHS Trust as the Head of Safety and Improvement. She has a “passion for improvement,” and says: “If we know something isn’t right, it’s about how we can, as a team, inspire people to improve and enable a difference to be made”.

Throughout her career, Kate has been struck by the way in which some people have preconceived ideas about health and safety. The media interpretation of ‘elf and safety’ has been a challenge she has been committed to overcoming. She said: “The essence of what we do is to inspire and support people to make a difference to their own workplace. I’m very lucky to have a fabulous team around me. She believes that “safety should be a thread, running through what we do, not a bolted on annoyance; at Exeter there is a real sense of this; people are keen and empowered to improve safety and wellbeing in their own work and this makes my work really enjoyable.” Kate explains: “If you manage safety well, people shouldn’t even notice it -people have a right to feel safe and well in their place of work and be able to thrive.”

The health and safety industry has been predominantly male, says Kate, and before coming to Exeter she often found herself the only woman in a variety of professional situations. “I attended a conference about eight years ago and I was the sole female – they thought I was there to make the tea,” she said. “I would also frequently be asked to take minutes at meetings, because they said ‘your handwriting will be neater because you’re a girl’.” Rather than holding her back, Kate believes these experiences shaped her own determination not to be effected by gender in her perceptions of herself and others. “We should see people for their brilliance, their ability and their enthusiasm – not their gender,” she adds. Kate says her past experiences have, however, made her realise “how well we do things here at the university.”

Her advice to others would be that “Small things can make the biggest difference,” as she explains: “If one person makes a positive change, that’s one more improvement made. It’s about seeing the possibilities and having the will, positivity and energy to fix what you know isn’t working.”

Kate is surrounded by lots of people she is inspired by and respects: “I learn from all of them but can’t single one individual out,” she says, “They are a balance of men and women – I’m not interested in what someone’s gender is, it is about being a team and working together.”

Outside of work you’re most likely to find Kate with her Husband, walking their Collie cross Labrador, Sunny, across the hills of her home town in Somerset. Asked why she chose to enter the industry, she said: “I really like people and I want to enable them to be happy, safe and well.”