As part of our Spotlight series, we talk to Nikky Okelue, QHSE (Quality, Health & Safety and Environmental) Manager at Roberts Metal Packaging about the importance of her role and what challenges are facing the metal packaging industry today.
- What is your current job title? What are your main responsibilities and tasks?
Hi! I’m Nikky and I’m the Quality, Health & Safety and Environmental (QHSE) Manager at Roberts Metal Packaging. I’m responsible for ensuring compliance in all three of these areas.
There is also a fourth aspect to my role which isn’t reflected in my job title. That’s Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standard (BRCGS). Since regulations for all four elements are constantly evolving, it’s a busy role!
- How does your role relate to the overall objectives of the company?
Ensuring company-wide compliance across these four key elements gives customers the confidence they need to do business with Roberts. The Quality and BRCGS aspects – which relate to product integrity – are particularly important for new customers.
The Health & Safety aspect safeguards a comfortable, safe work environment for our employees, setting them up for a successful, productive, rewarding day, every day.
Finally, as regards environmental performance, we have an extremely effective Environmental Management System. It keeps us on track with our sustainability goals in terms of boosting resource usage efficiencies and reducing waste. And the results give us a strong competitive advantage and help win trust among all our stakeholders – including customers, prospects, business partners and employees.
- Describe your typical day.
Every day is different but, underlying all my activity, is a thirst for continuous improvement. One day you’ll find me arranging for compliance inspections. The next, I’ll be reading up on the latest regulatory changes. And the day after that, you’ll find me investigating complaints and ensuring we have viable corrective actions in place. Every day is unique!
- What aspect(s) are your greatest source of a sense of satisfaction and pride?
Ensuring we are compliant with relevant legislation as well as with Internal Standard requirements is extremely satisfying. To have our progress in these areas recognised by independent, expert bodies is a major source of pride for me.
- What do you most like about Roberts’ company culture?
Everyone at Roberts is shown respect and encouraged to have a voice, whatever their level of seniority. I love that attitude. It’s important for building a happy, fulfilled, productive workforce with a strong sense of self-worth. And we’re a friendly, open bunch!
I also appreciate the company’s commitment to a good work/life balance. As a busy mother of three children, I’m grateful to be given all the tools I need to succeed at my job during work hours, and the freedom to refocus on my family at the end of the working day. If I need to work at home one day – or periodically – that’s fine too.
- How has Roberts helped you in your career development since you started?
I’ve lost count of how many courses I’ve attended since joining Roberts! Examples include the International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA) training course and many Health & Management workshops.
The company has invested heavily in helping me develop my professional skills and achieve my career goals. My skills, knowledge base and confidence have all benefitted from the investment.
- What are the biggest challenges for the metal packaging industry at the moment?
The biggest challenge for SMEs around the UK is meeting Scope One requirements on our journey to net zero. Getting accurate data on Roberts’ emissions is challenging as we outsource the transport element of order fulfilment to fleet companies. Calculating our carbon footprint without precise intelligence from them is impossible. But with our usual determination and expertise, we’ll get there!
- What are the most important skills that school children and university students should spend time developing to set themselves up for career success? Why?
In today’s business world, technical skills aren’t enough to guarantee success. Soft skills are arguably even more important. I think young people should work on their flexibility, personal management (which means showing initiative, and setting and achieving meaningful targets), communication and technology skills – as well as their sense of empathy – from an early age.
- If there was one piece of advice that you could give to your younger self, what would that be?
Lead with your head and not with your heart! Analyse the facts dispassionately before making important decisions. Respond based on the hard facts rather than reacting with your emotions. There’s always a place for gut instinct but – without the facts – following your feelings is a much riskier proposition!
- What are your passions outside work?
I have many! At the weekend, you’ll find me exploring new places with my three children or dancing to the latest Afrobeats at local events or in my kitchen! My other great pleasure in life is travelling around Europe, delighting in all the new cultures, cuisines and customs that I discover along the way!