Celebrating World Environmental Health Day: working in an international environmental health role

04 October 2023, Lisa Cobb CEnvH FCIEH, Group Head of Safety, SSP Group plc

The five pillars of Environmental Health

For World Environmental Health Day 2023, we invited members to share their experiences of working in environmental health and what it means to protect public health.

How did I get here?

I’m Lisa and I am proud to be a Chartered Fellow of CIEH and a fully-fledged EHP. I came into the world of EH as a mature student in my early 30s after working in sales. After starting a family, I no longer had the drive and passion to close every sale as my child became my priority. However, I needed to work (both financially and for my sanity) and I managed to secure an admin job at my local authority, supporting the EHOs. I was hooked.

Six months later I found myself prepping for an interview to get a place on the MSc Env Health course. Amazingly, they offered me a place! Three years and another child later, I graduated and then completed my Experiential Learning Portfolio, exam and interview. I will always remember the day I got the CIEH letter saying I had passed all elements and could call myself an EHP. Fast forward 12 years and I’m now Global Head of Safety for a food and beverage business operating in 37 countries across the world.

Working in environmental health internationally

Having led the UK and Irish business for six years the move to a newly created global role was fast paced. Within six months we became a team of three, creating waves and building momentum in all aspects of food, fire and people safety. I can be advising on a proposed new policy and then presenting at Board meetings. No days are ever the same, as working in the food and beverage sector within major travel hubs means we are there to protect our colleagues, customers and visitors across the regions.

Whether it’s ensuring our colleagues are trained in their duties, the right PPE is available or the food that we produce is safe to eat, safety is the priority. A favourite task of mine is to host quarterly forums with the Safety Leads for each Country. It’s an opportunity to network, share best practices and create a consistent approach and engaging culture across the business. Despite differences in local legislation, we are all working hard to meet the same high standards.

I love travel and never thought I could combine being an EHP and travel. I’ve been incredibly lucky and grateful to have experienced so many wonderful countries.

So, to anyone reading this and thinking about EH as a career, go for it. Being able to make a difference really is incredibly rewarding.

If you would like to learn more about environmental health and becoming an EHP, visit our What is EH? webpage or if you would like to write a blog about your EH experience, please email [email protected].

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