Grad profile

Natalie Pashutina

Natalie Pashutina. Photo by Bernice Puzon.

Natalie Pashutina. Photo by Bernice Puzon.

“You’re responsible for ensuring that employees are supported in doing their work safely and get to return home to the people that they love.”

A love for health and wellness led Natalie Pashutina to explore a career in the occupational health and safety (OHS) field. After completing our Occupational Health and Safety Certificate, Natalie secured her current role as a health and safety specialist at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). She is also continuing her education as a student in our Risk Management Certificate program.

What are some of the day-to-day responsibilities in your role at ICBC?

I oversee and provide internal audits of health and safety programs at 72 of our locations. I also guide people through any health and safety investigation processes and putting preventative measures in place to ensure that an incident doesn’t happen again.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in occupational health and safety?

I am originally from Russia and came to Canada eight years ago. I had a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from Russia and began questioning what I wanted to do with my life and what my next steps would be. Since I enjoyed working out, I initially explored career options in the fitness field, which eventually led to me working as a wellness coordinator helping people who were injured at work go through rehabilitation. It was through this role that I became interested in OHS, as I wanted to know what caused workplace injuries and why.

Why did you decide to take the Occupational Health and Safety Certificate?

I chose SFU’s certificate because of its convenient part-time format, which allowed me to work while pursuing my education. The part-time format also gave me time to gain experience in the field.

What was the most valuable part of the program for you?

The first course that I took, Introduction to Health and Safety Systems, helped me get a sense of what the field was all about. It was the course that confirmed for me that this was what I was meant to be doing. The general culture in the program was so supportive. The instructors were always approachable with any questions we had, and they had practical experience in the field, as some of them were even working with WorkSafe BC.

I am part of the BC chapter of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and I see my classmates and instructors at networking events that we organize. This network and support system have been so valuable, as it affirmed that I was studying with likeminded people who were passionate about the field.

What do you enjoy the most about your career in OHS?

I enjoy working with people. When you’re working in the health and safety field, you constantly have to deliver the same idea to a completely different group of people. You need to be able to communicate those ideas by understanding what each audience needs and tailor your message so that it gets across in the most effective way, and so that at the end of the day, people stay safe.

Do you have any advice for prospective students considering the program?

To be really successful in the health and safety field, it’s important for you to understand who you are as a person. Are you willing to help people and go the extra mile to ensure people’s safety? You’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that employees are supported in doing their work safely and get to return home to the people that they love.

Once you figure out whether it’s for you, just do it and apply to this program. During this program, you will meet people who will support you, mentor you and share their own experiences with you.

“You’re responsible for ensuring that employees are supported in doing their work safely and get to return home to the people that they love.”

More about Natalie

What is your favourite TV show?

I love watching Friends!

What was the last book you read?

Elon Musk’s biography. It was fascinating to read about the challenges of his career and his health along with the obstacles he faced.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

My grandfather. He worked in the construction industry and was the person who gave me the inspiration to be somebody.

Where is your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?

That is difficult to answer as I have been to around 20 countries! I’d have to say that one of my favourite places was Peru as I got to climb Macchu Pichu. It was beautiful.