Hard work, top marks and high places

You've got to be pretty determined to climb Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. Some might say you have to be a bit mad too.

Julie Hurst has a lot of determination, but she isn't mad. She believes in doing things safely. And that includes climbing mountains.

Julie's love of climbing stems from her childhood. She used to go fell-walking with her parents. When she went to university to study biochemistry she got into rock-climbing. Since then, she's not only conquered Mont Blanc, but several other peaks in the Alps. She's also been to the top of Britain's highest hills and mountains such as Slieve Donard, Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis.

When she left university in 2001, Julie joined AstraZeneca on a manufacturing graduate scheme. She was encouraged to try out various roles. The area of work she enjoyed most was health and safety. She'd been on a few safety courses while learning to climb, so she felt it was something she could turn her hand to.

Julie soon got her NEBOSH Certificate and became a Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Advisor. Her work colleagues encouraged her to go for her NEBOSH Diploma. They said it would open up more opportunities.

She passed her Diploma in 2006, with distinction. Later, when all the Diploma results were released, Julie discovered she'd received the highest overall mark in the UK that year. She received a best candidate award from NEBOSH.

Julie says her Diploma has given her the tools and knowledge to move forward in her career. She's now manager of the Environmental Monitoring Laboratory at AstraZeneca. She recently achieved Chartership Status of IOSH.

She's also joined the British Mountaineering Council’s Training and Youth Committee. Health and safety when climbing is one of the areas they focus on. Julie's a useful person to have on board.

She puts her success so far down to hard work and determination. It's part of her character. She enjoys a challenge. It's what gets her to the top of mountains. It's what gets her top marks in NEBOSH exams.

Julie's still young. She has other challenges ahead of her. Mountains to climb perhaps? Only time will tell what success she'll have in the future. But we doubt she's reached her peak just yet.

Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Tim Riley