Paula Campkin adds Community Leader award to stellar resumé
By Jack Burton
Paula Campkin is OHS Canada’s inaugural winner of the Community Leader award.
Campkin, 48, is an experienced health and safety leader who has contributed extensively to the broader health and safety community in Canada.
The vice-president of operations and the Safety Centre of Excellence for Energy Safety Canada in Calgary has nurtured a supportive approach to occupational health and safety dating back to her childhood days spent in Sundre, Alta.
“I’ve always been community-minded, all the way back to watching my parents grow up in a small town,” she said.
“It was always instilled in me that it’s not just about you and what you can achieve, it’s how can you help others — whether they’re in your group or not.”
A highly respected leader, Campkin has more than two decades’ experience working in the energy, utilities, construction and not-for-profit sectors.
In her current role, she provides strategic leadership to the development of safety programs, training and initiatives to reduce injury and illness within the Canadian oil and gas industry.
Among Campkin’s most impactful contributions to the occupational health and safety community — both in how she perceives her career and to the industry at large — has been her role in empowering and promoting women in safety through the formation of the Women in Occupational Health and Safety Society, in 2017.
The group is comprised of women in health and safety roles across various industries — and parts of the world, with its membership including women from Russia to Africa — and seeks to support gender diversity in occupational health and safety through various avenues of support and mentorship.
The initiative was inspired by Campkin’s own experiences as a woman coming up in the industry in the 1990s, and the difficulties that arose from having to navigate the primarily male-dominated spaces of the time.
“I can remember lots of different situations where my credibility — I felt — was being questioned because I was a woman,” she said.
“And that’s not a fun place to be… when you work real hard and are just trying to do your best, but you sometimes think you have to work twice as hard just to be at the same table as other people.”
Campkin’s rise in her field, and the various diversity initiatives that she has been involved with, have impacted occupational health and safety culture across the country by pushing it to be more diverse and inclusive.
Looking back at her career, it’s a shift that Campkin is proud of.
“I was the first woman manager, then I was the first woman around the board table. But now I look, and I lead a large team with all kinds of great women and men in leadership roles,” she said.
“It’s about helping to build and lead some diversity and inclusion within whatever environment I’m in.”
Campkin has many educational degrees, including an MBA, alongside her CRSP and CHRP designations.
Since April of 2020, Campkin has volunteered her time and expertise as a member of OHS Canada’s editorial advisory board.
Jack Burton is a freelance writer in Toronto.