Home>Fire>Suppression>Doctor's orders - October 2017

Doctor's orders - October 2017

03 July 2017

Dr Carl Hunter discuses the responsibilities that employers have to their staff and ensuring they share mutual values.

WHETHER YOU are a scientist seeking to identify the fundamental laws of the universe or a fire engineer seeking to design a complex suppression system what makes for great engineering – is something called integrity.

Great science and great research derive from the constant quest for truth, from an awareness of the essential importance of integrity to arrive at that truth and from an understanding that few are capable of arriving at it.

 There is so much discussion today as to this country and its future. Let me try to suggest to you the historical, political and social contexts in which we find ourselves as we seek to understand our place in the world. 

So often today I find graduates who tell me we are part of a globalised world but understand too little of who we are or that world. Budget flights to Magaluf may “inter-connect” us but they do not make for a travelled mind.

To place this in context at any one time we have 25 undergraduates and postgraduates working with us from Durham in paid part-time positions. We recruit 5-6 of these for paid summer Internships and one of them is recruited annually. Each of them undergo seven hours of written tests and two hours of interviews to be selected. So here are three typical questions at an early stage in our selection process:

•       What is the time right now in New York, Hong Kong and Bombay?

•       What is the correlation between the density of the undersea cables that enable the internet today and the great shipping routes of the 19th century?

•       What College at Cambridge has more Nobel Prizes for science than the entire nation of France?

I’ll let you look up the answers! But the reason for asking them is that your place in the world may determine mine. And if that is true then so might its reverse. We are a nation. Of all faiths, colours and yes, ages too. And when you seek employment would you prefer that I as an employer look at who you are and who you might become in an organisation, or should I look at who you are as a human being, what your values are and what it is you bring with your mind, certified as it is by the gold standard of the being a british fire engineer?

And if it is my responsibility to do that I am effectively evaluating your values as the single most important criteria. Because your mind may be assumed as one refined by the values of integrity and capable of the pursuit of truth.

When we voted in the recent general election, how many of you know that at the moment you placed your cross on the ballot paper, you were actually touching the powers of your Sovereign that has passed through the ages to them your Member of Parliament. It is in itself a miracle. And you were part of it.

But then some say that the younger generation determined its outcome too. That it was the very same young who did not vote in last year’s EU referendum but who did in June. If we conclude that then surely we bring division of age to our society which has at its equivalent a division of race or creed and is that not then a form of segregation that we should treat with very great care and caution and place unity of values in its stead?

For we are nothing if we are divided. The very notion of segregation inverts and destroys our values. For the last month, I have spent considerable time in north London on the council estates there, and what you find there is the very opposite of what we seek as a nation, where our national demographic is inverted and there is hopelessness and lack of opportunity.

You are not from there now. Because you have been here. And this country develops your values and creates an awareness for you to contribute to society beyond this wonderful place. This then creates that ‘added value’ that enables you to take your place in a Vision-Mission-Strategy approach, which is what we seek from our Graduates in my company.

And as an employer I look to the magnificence of so many in our industry and that derives from understanding who you are, where you are from and what certainty of values we share between us. For if we share those values then we can identify our vision. And once our vision is clear then we can identify our mission and if we do that then the strategy for its Implementation will be clear.