Director, NORCAT Advisory Trina Hayden Named One of Canada’s Top Women in Safety

Director, NORCAT Advisory Trina Hayden credits building a team of consultants as one of her proudest career accomplishments.

Awarded by Canadian Occupational Safety magazine, the second annual Top Women in Safety report celebrates outstanding female professionals from across the country who are making an impact in the Canadian health and occupational safety industry. This recognition acknowledges the hard work and personal accomplishments of recipients, as well as the path they have paved for themselves and future women in the industry to succeed and grow in their careers.

As Director, NORCAT Advisory, Trina was recognized for her advocacy for diversity and inclusion and her tremendous contribution to ensuring workers around the world are safe and healthy on the job - all day, every day.

NORCAT Manager, Marketing and Communications Lindsay Moorhouse sat down with Trina to learn more about her career path, the words of wisdom she'll never forget and the one quote that guides her decision making process every day.

Q&A with Trina Hayden, Director NORCAT Advisory

You hold your Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree and Certificate in Environmental Biology from Laurentian University. How did you get started in the field of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)?

When I was in my last year of high school and trying to figure out what my future looked like, I took a good, hard look at who I was and what I enjoyed. I recognized that I was very much an introvert, and, at the time, I didn't think a career working with people would be the right fit for me. I also love animals and science, and decided to attend Laurentian University where I received my degree in Biology with a specialization in zoology and a certificate in environmental biology.

In my last year of university, I was pregnant with my daughter, working two part-time jobs and getting ready to defend my thesis. My daughter was born between my final exam and graduation, and my former career plans changed as I became a parent. Most employment opportunities in my field were seasonal, out-of-town contracts, and that just didn't fit with my new lifestyle as a Mom! After graduation and parental leave, I accepted a position as an administrative assistant at a local manufacturing company, where I began cross training in different roles and at one point was looking into going into accounting. I was offered a position as a logistics manager at another part-time employer, and my current employer then counter-offered with a new position of HR Manager, a role that offered strategic and tactical thinking, which I love! However, I wanted to do this new role the right way - I went back to school and obtained my CHRL designation. While I was finishing up my course work, the company's OHS and QA manager left. I was asked if I'd be interested in adding this aspect into my current role, and I thought, why not? That's the roundabout way I first entered the field of OHS!

How long have you been in your current role as Director, NORCAT Advisory?

I started my career at NORCAT on May 4, 2015 in the position of Manager, Occupational Health, Safety and Environment - this is not only my work anniversary, but also Star Wars Day AND my husband's birthday - it's a big date for me!

In September 2015, I ended up working on a large project that allowed me to obtain autonomy in my role and was tasked to help build out NORCAT’s consulting department, which led to the creation of NORCAT Advisory. I officially became Director, NORCAT Advisory in September 2019.

What experiences throughout your career have led you to this leadership position?

I started taking on leadership roles early in my career. In my former positions, I was able to gain experience within multisector organizations, working with mining, forestry, construction, oil and gas and other industries, in a variety of roles, whether it was HR or OHS related. Taking on these different roles allowed me to become a multisector generalist instead of a single sector specialist, and I think that has really shaped who I am as a leader today. I was able to leverage a decade of experience in the health and safety and human resources management field to carve out a niche and drive significant growth in talent and human capital consulting both in Canada and globally for NORCAT. I learned early on that everything is interrelated – complex relationships between people, processes and technology, from the worker on the shop floor to the operations manager and everything in between – and this understanding has given me the ability to go into an organization and understand their needs and deliver results that support sustainability and performance, whether it’s through a training needs analysis, the shaping of a talent and human capital strategy, development of blended learning delivery models or the people side of ops readiness.

Can you describe your top three career milestones thus far?

Shortly after I started at NORCAT, in September 2015 we took on a large project with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. When I look back on the scale of this project, it’s surreal to think of its size and scope. When I break it down, we ended mapping and forecasting future talent pool requirements for over 1000 economically feasible projects over 23 different value chains, and provided recommendations to bridge the gap between the requirements of mining employers and the quality and quantity of human capital, which was an incredible experience.

Another major career milestone was in September 2019 when I officially established our advisory services and created a new role for myself as Director, NORCAT Advisory!

Finally, my third major career milestone would definitely be going from a department of one with support from subject matter experts and the NORCAT executive team to building a team of six consultants and growing to the point where we now have our own dedicated space within NORCAT’s head office.

What do you find most fulfilling about your role?

I love what I do. I love where I work. They would have to drag me out kicking and screaming to leave this organization and this role!

There are two main aspects I find fulfilling. The impact that we have with not only our clients, but industry as a whole in terms of skills development, is tremendous. Having a part, however large or small, in providing opportunities for workers to thrive, is one of the most fulfilling aspects.

Somewhat related, another aspect that I find fulfilling about my role is the ability to mentor and coach my teammates, my colleagues and even clients.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve felt like I was missing something, and I always looked externally to fill that void, whether it was through volunteering or going back to school to learn something new. When I started growing out my team, I figured out that what I was missing was mentoring and coaching. I love being able to help shape another individual’s career and guide them through both personal and professional growth, helping people get a sense of belonging and accomplishment and figuring out their place in the world.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given, career related or in general?

As mentioned earlier, I have always been an introvert, sprinkled with some high-functioning anxiety. Even when you’re consistently putting yourself out of your comfort zone, that anxiety doesn’t just go away, and before a big meeting or event, I still get that anxiety.

Once, I was about to walk into a huge meeting with a new client, and I was aware that I would be the youngest person in the room, not to mention the only woman. I felt very out of place, and kept thinking, "what am I doing here? I don’t deserve to be here!" These thoughts were circulating through my head. Right before we went into the meeting, Don – NORCAT’s CEO – looked at me and, sensing my apprehension, said "just remember, when it comes to Occupational Health and Safety, you’re the smartest person in the room. This is what you do, this is what you know. All of the other people in this room are coming from different disciplines and they are coming to you because YOU are the expert." I have held onto those words ever since. To me, that was a moment of clarity and the best advice I’ve ever received.

Why is health and safety important to you?

At the end of the day, health and safety matters because people matter. Ultimately, I want to ensure that every single person has the opportunity to go home healthy and safe to their loves ones every single day.

Do you have a favourite quote or words to live by?

The quote "have courage and be kind" from Disney’s live-action Cinderella has been the mantra that leads me every day. Having courage with my mind in regards to always being keen to learn something new and having courage with my soul to put myself out there and try to go beyond the limits I’ve placed upon myself. Also, being empathetic, being compassionate, being that individual that understands and shares in the emotions of others is very important to me, as understanding is at the heart of empathy. Having courage and being kind can help you get through most professional and life situations.

The full list of winners is available on the Canadian Occupational Safety website.