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AECOM Senior Geologist Holly Brown is dedicated to safety

AECOM Senior Geologist Holly Brown is dedicated to safety

 June 27, 2023

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In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), AECOM shared how its women #MakeSafetySeen by demonstrating strong safety principles in their work and committing to deliver a safer world through their engineering expertise.

A commitment to safety has been a common theme throughout Geologist Holly Brown’s diverse career. For her, prioritizing safety starts with foresight and preparation. In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, Holly discussed her unwavering dedication to safety, aligning with the 2023 INWED campaign theme #MakeSafetySeen. Holly's role at AECOM sees her champion safety for incident-free project sites.

Appreciating the importance of safety

Holly Brown works as a Senior Geologist within AECOM’s Environment business line - but she did not begin her career with safety at top of mind. An admitted risk-taker in her younger years, Hollie spent two months in frigid Antarctica creating the first-ever U.S. map of the Dry Valleys - Holly came to appreciate the importance of safety as her career progressed.

The Germantown, Maryland-based senior geologist holds numerous project management and team leadership responsibilities within AECOM. While her work is diverse, there is a common thread running through it all: a commitment to safety. This is exemplified by the safety trained supervisor (STS) certification she earned from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Holly's numerous internal AECOM recognitions - including the Safety Star, Rising Young Star and Safety Challenge Coin awards - and appreciation from AECOM clients, from whom she earned the SH&E Excellence Award and the prestigious Global Contractor Safety Council Award for demonstrating exceptional commitment to safety that led to zero incidents at a high-profile project site in the northeast U.S.

Enjoying a varied career at AECOM

Holly wears many different hats at AECOM. As a Senior Geologist, Holly is a subject-matter expert on geology, where she focuses on soil and water remediation and leads a team of 10 professionals. The team is dedicated to remediating contaminated media with expertise in chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, PFAS and PCBs. In 2022, Holly helped develop AECOM’s Chemical Center of Excellence that provides standardized quality of chemistry deliverables across the firm, coupled with enterprise capabilities engagement for various client portfolios. Holly is the project manager for a major remediation effort for a U.S. military base where she also serves as a site safety and health officer.

Naturally attuned to workplace safety

Being attuned to safety comes naturally to Holly, having worked on many job sites in different sectors of the environmental business and seeing the lessons learned from safety incidents and near misses. Holly is of the mindset that these incidents were all preventable, with the proper safety training, education and communication.

"I believe that everyone should be brought into a culture of safety, so it’s of utmost importance for all team members, regardless of their role on the project. I took the Board of Certified Safety Professionals STS exam early in my career, which helped me obtain numerous site safety and health officer roles and led to tracking account metrics for safety observations using dashboards like Industry Safe and Lifeguard. Early on as a task manager, I saw the need to improve safety processes, and now as a project manager I weave that into the fabric of how I operate and how I ensure the teams I lead are working safely," explains Holly.

Prioritizing safety starts with foresight and preparation

When asked how safety impacts her approach to client work, Holly says: "Safety is number one. Always. On my projects, I’m constantly assessing ways we can do things more safely. My experiences as a professional and a project manager compel me to build in enough time to address the safety needs of my teams and my clients. I also carefully consider how I’ve incorporated safety planning into every project, and how I’ve communicated safety risks and procedures. I take a very firm approach toward safety, and it’s respected and appreciated by our clients."

"Prioritizing safety starts with foresight and preparation. I think about what could go wrong and how to prevent those scenarios from happening in the first place. I make it a point to share the means I use to consider and calculate risks for the work that we’re doing, as well as the procedures we have in place to mitigate risk. I continually communicate with our clients regarding annual health and safety plan refreshes and reviews to make sure they’re aware of all the different requirements. And I’m always keeping an eye on what’s next, evaluating best practices and procedures to plan ahead for the next project," adds Holly.

Receiving safety recognition from major AECOM clients

Holly understands the importance of standing up and stopping work, if necessary, when it’s not being done safely - a capability that resulted in safety recognition from two of AECOM's major clients.

"Coming across an unsafe work scenario, I immediately recognized the risk in proceeding. I stood my ground and escalated the situation up the management chain, while simultaneously identifying best practices and procedures that could be followed to complete the work safely. Our clients greatly appreciated this alternate approach, as it protected their interests and their people, and I can’t think of anything more important than that," adds Holly.

AECOM INWED Holly Brown - Colorado

Holly has a Bachelor of Science degree in geology with a concentration in physics and a Master of Science degree in igneous petrology/magma dynamics. Holly spent four years doing postgraduate work in a doctoral program at The Johns Hopkins University specializing in crystallography and containment fate and transport of uranium at a large Superfund site.

Make safety seen in an engineering career at AECOM

Women working at AECOM are driven by a common purpose to deliver a better world, while keeping safety front and center of all their projects.

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