Fun, credibility and definitely not the tea-lady

Lynne Ainge likes to study. She admits she collects qualifications for fun as well as personal development.

She has a NEBOSH General Certificate, a NEBOSH National Diploma, an ACT Certificate in Safety Programme Auditing and more... including an MSc in Occupational Health and Safety.

But fun isn't the only reason Lynne is so well qualified. She thinks credibility is important too.

Lynn's first job was helping people with learning disabilities. She did this from 1980 to 1994, gaining a variety of teaching qualifications along the way. She became interested in health and safety through finding employment opportunities for those she worked with.

So when a health and safety position came up at Suffolk County Council, she went for it. Lynne believes she got the job because of her teaching qualifications. Training was a key part of the role.

Keen to develop the knowledge she needed for her new career, Lynne quickly got on with her NEBOSH studies and rose through the ranks.

The first health and safety conference she went to gave her another incentive to study. There were 100 people there - 95 men and 5 women. She says she realised then that anything to help prove her credibility would be vital if she was going succeed in such a male-dominated profession.

This became even more apparent when she joined a Construction Safety Group. The all-male group asked her if she'd bring the tea through when she first walked through the door. Two years later she was Chair of the group.   

Lynne is now Lead Health & Safety Advisor at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. It's a demanding job.

The Trust's partners and many of the people she works with there are professionals. She's impressed them with her experience and day-to-day knowledge. And her qualifications mean she's respected as a professional too.

Lynne thinks attitudes to women have improved a lot in recent years. She's pleased more women are taking their NEBOSH qualifications and sees more women at conferences now. Conferences she also now speaks at.

There is one thing that's troubling her though. What to study next?

Portrait of Lynne Ainge