My career: Stephen Asbury

6th December 2012

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Stephen Asbury describes his journey from studying law to becoming managing director of an environment and health and safety consultancy

Why did you become an environmental professional?

I actually qualified in law, and my first job was with a construction company where I dealt with many serious injuries and insurance claims. I recall thinking how much better things would be if we focused on prevention rather than compensation, and protecting people in the workplace became my life’s work. I came to environment management later when it was incorporated into my role.

How did you get your first environmental job?

In 1990, when I was the group health and safety manager of polymer engineering group BTR, my boss thought that I would be the best person to understand the hazards we were emitting into the atmosphere, and gave me responsibility for ensuring that rubber processing at our plant in Coalville met requirements under the Environmental Protection Act.

How did you progress your environment career?

I completed the NEBOSH specialist diploma in environmental management at Aston University in 1996, and joined the forerunner of IEMA, as an Associate. I have continued to progress my membership and, I’m proud to say, became a Fellow in 2007.

What does your current role involve?

As managing director of Corporate Risk Systems (CRS), I have to lead and support our team of 30 specialist health, safety and environment (HSE) consultants. I also remain an active HSE consultant, instructor and conference speaker. Assignments take me all over the world and I have been lucky enough to consult with some of the world’s largest organisations. I have worked in 55 countries on six continents, and in 2011, I even spoke on a cruise ship in China! I am also an author and write for journals and magazines, as well as publishing my own books. I am currently writing a second edition for my first book HSEQ audits – a risk-based approach.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

My role has evolved. I used to take on virtually any HSE-related assignments where I had the competency to deliver a solution. These days, I have a staff to work with, and my own assignments tend to be more specialised, or where the client has asked for my personal involvement.

What’s the best part of your work?

I love working with company directors and their line managers to help them to understand that incidents can be prevented by effective use of HSE management systems. Showing them how continual improvements can be achieved and helping them to track their performance over several years is very satisfying.

What was the last development event or training course you attended?

I became a certified neuro-linguistic programming coach and practitioner at the start of 2012.

What did you bring back to your job?

A better understanding of how the brain works, and how I can help my colleagues to be the best they can be.

What are the most important skills for your role and why?

Time management is very important, as well as the ability to prioritise my workload. I also think that enthusiasm is crucial. I really enjoy the dynamic in a seminar where the participants are expecting a drab lecture and I deliver a learning experience like a rock show. Helping people to enjoy their jobs and deliver exceptional performance is like a drug for me!

Where do you see the environment profession going?

On the rise and rise! But it does need to be repositioned to be more mainstream and better aligned to business objectives.

Where would like to be in five years’ time?

We have a five-year vision for CRS, and I’d like to be a part of the delivery of that. We have an excellent management team, and helping them to achieve their aspirations is very important to me.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering the environment profession?

Gain the best qualifications that you can, and network as much and as often as you can. Clichés aside, I have discovered that it really is who you know, as well as what you know that can help you to progress in your career.

Career file


FIEMA, Chartered environmentalist, Chartered fellow of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, MBA in risk management, ILEX (Law), NEBOSH specialist diploma in environmental management

Career history:

2001 to now Managing director, Corporate Risk Systems
1999–2001 Director and company secretary, Corporate Risk Systems
1998–1999 Associate director, Aon Risk Services
1995–1998 Head of liability consulting, Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Group
1991–1995 Group health, safety and environment manager, GKN
1990–1991 Group health safety and environment manager, BTR
1984–1990 Health and safety manager, John Carr


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