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Interview with our new CEO,
Becky Hickman

Interview with our new CEO, Becky Hickman


RoSPA's new Chief Executive, Becky Hickman, discusses her new role and her vision for the future of accident prevention...


What does RoSPA mean to you?

“A place where hard work gets results, and there’s the opportunity to make a real contribution to a safer society. Accidents are particularly cruel, as they’re often sudden, violent and claim our most vulnerable – and don’t have to happen.

“I see RoSPA’s role going forward as vital! No one does what we do, has the breadth that we do, can cut across issues and join dots like we do.”


You've risen from within the organisation, working at RoSPA for two decades in various roles. What advantages do you think that brings to your new position?

“I definitely think that there are times in an organisation when you'd look to recruit a new leader for a fresh insight or a change in direction and I would have felt RoSPA fell into that camp, were it not for two things. One is that our senior leadership team includes two relatively new external appointments: Monique Klein, our Chief Financial Officer and Steve Cole, our new Director of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs, so we have a good balance and diversity across the team.

“Secondly, because we are at a moment in time where we just need to forge ahead and, because I’ve got a breadth of experience, having worked in sales, marketing, communications and policy, I have that sort of vision for what we need to do and how we need to pull things together.

“I've got a huge amount of organisational knowledge, so when it came to doing the new business plan, I really felt that we needed a greater degree of strategic clarity than we'd had previously. I don't think you can get that unless you've done a variety of roles and understood the markets in that way. My aims as Chief Executive are strategic clarity, mission impact and the foundations for future growth.

“I think that everybody at RoSPA is committed and on board. I really do think work should be a positive experience for people and they should feel valued in what they're doing and be able to go home and say, yes I do an important job and I do it really well.”


How does it feel being the first female Chief Executive of RoSPA? Do you think women still face issues in business when it comes to the top positions?

“I think it's an important issue because there are some really compelling statistics in health and safety about the lack of representation of women in managerial and senior positions. We know there are equally significant statistics when it comes to board level representation and senior leadership team representation outside of health and safety.

“On a personal note, it's been quite encouraging to get reactions at both end of the spectrum, so for example, we've got a female president and another member of our presidential team is a woman, they’re both members of the House of Lords, have accomplished careers and have done something incredible groundbreaking things. So, it was nice to speak to them about it because it feels like people have gone before you and you’re treading the path they have laid for you - it's nice to feel that.

“And at another level, I've got a teenage daughter and I've got teenage nieces, and they've all been really like, ‘oh, wow’, really quite enthused.

“Diversity, equality, inclusion all matter in every kind of sphere. You should always be looking to have that kind of rich tapestry. I think that's something that RoSPA is good at. I want it to be a value that we embody, that we make sure that we create opportunities and stand for inclusion and equality.”


I see RoSPA’s role going forward as vital! No one does what we do,
has the breadth that we do, can cut across issues and join dots like we do.


How can RoSPA make the biggest impact on safety going forward?

“Fundamentally we are unique because we're cross-cutting. Things tend to happen if they fall, for example, within one direct Government department but actually most of the significant changes that we want to make don't and that's why they fall between the cracks.

“With accident prevention, it's the NHS that will benefit but it's not the NHS that would pay for the upstream changes, so it's easy for nothing to happen because it's not something that anyone's actually judged on. I think that our role uniquely is that we have that cross-cutting view. We're a really collaborative organisation, we can work on all these different issues and pull them all together to have that kind of macro view.”


Why do you think accident prevention isn't taken more seriously?

“I think the word ‘accident’ probably is problematic because it can be seen as so trivial. Many people fundamentally believe that an accident is inevitable (hence our saying that they don't have to happen). I think that those that work in the OSH world absolutely understand the need to assess risks as cause and effect. But outside of that, many people think that even awful things like road fatalities can’t be prevented.

“Fundamentally, you're stopping things before they've happened, so you’ve got to make that mental leap to understand, with the work we do, that we save lives before they're ever even in danger. So how can you measure that? How do you make a case for that?

"And then I do think accident prevention kind of falls between the gaps. It's got to be bigger and broader than just one area or Government department and until you look at it holistically, it's just going to be seen as something tangential. It’s frustrating because there are small basic changes that are proven to make a huge difference, for instance our Safer Stairs campaign showed this. These improvements are long-term, not quick fixes.”


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