You may have noticed that this space has been “dark” of late. Why, since I've been gone and the world has spun round and round: the Occupy Wall Street launched (and perhaps corporate social responsibility entered the public eye), Kim Kardashian got married AND divorced, Libya fell, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, the debt ceiling crisis...well that's still with us. No, I didn’t disappear into the abyss after my Africa trip in August. No, I didn’t burn out or give up. Instead, I’ve moved forward a notch in the journey.
I've always maintained to family, friends and colleagues that "change is good", and that it continues to drive us to continually improve on a personal and professional scale. As I announced in early October to 800 of my closest personal friends and colleagues on LinkedIn, I recently started a full time position as Associate Director- Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) for Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in South San Francisco, CA. A long time client of mine, Elan is at the forefront of neuroscience based biotechnology. Elan's work includes research and development activities for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis. I am proud to be aligned with a company that is focused on tackling some of the most troubling and challenging diseases of the mind and body, some of which have affected members of my own family.
With my days (and occasional evenings) fully committed with Elan, I’ll be placing ValueStream Performance Advisors on hiatus. Despite the change in venue, my enthusiasm and passion for heretical thinking, innovation, systems-based management and organizational sustainability, remains the same. I’m happy with what ValueStream was able to accomplish through from 2009-2011 along with my many collaborators and clients
However, while my social media presence may change in the months and years ahead, I will nonetheless continue to be an ardent advocate for organizational sustainability, and proactive EHS compliance and management (which Elan has graciously endorsed as well). I am truly appreciative of all of the support you, as readers have given me and continue to value the business relationships that we’ve established.
Managing Change and Life's Risky Balance
This was a shot of the iconic acacia trees that I took while on a mini-safari this past summer in the Spioenkop Nature Reserve in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Riding on horseback among the roaming wildlife (among them rhinos, giraffe, zebras and hartebeests) I was reminded of how critical it is that we all take a moment to reflect on the nature of humankind, how far we have come in a relatively short period of time on this planet, and how easily we have drifted away from lifes precious balance. Not far from the ancient cave dwellings of the aboriginal San people, I realized how out of step humanity is with what's around them, and what a ruinous course we may be on. We are perhaps the species most at risk. I also noted in my related post following that South Africa trip discussing environmental, health and safety, that " companies must take care of basic HSE issues and lay a firm foundational framework for continual improvement first before they can progress along the sustainability journey. ...Regarding sustainability, it makes little sense force feeding a business approach that has little immediate bearing on managing organizations immediate risks." This is one of many reasons why I elected to refocus my career work on managing basic EHS issues to assure that a solid foundation is in place to support systematic sustainability efforts.
Supply Chains Place in Managing EHS Issues
You may ask "what does supply chain management have to do with EHS issues"...well quite a lot actually. Every day, manufacturers bring chemicals and products into the workplace. Many of these materials may be hazardous to the environment or to the user (they may have toxic, carcinogenic, teratogenic or mutagenic effects). My job is to protect workers from the potential harms that these materials might pose. It's also my job to seek out less harmful materials that could achieve the same goal, and using life cycle processes, seek ways to "design' out hazardous components of a product or processes. This may often involve working with multiple tiers of suppliers to seek safer product alternatives, and also source locally to reduce transporation related greenhouse gas emissions associated with getting those products to my company's doorsteps. My role is focused on managing risk and redcing harm...to the environment, to workers and co-workers and to the company and community in which it operates.
We are at a critical juncture on this fragile planet of ours. We all have a moral imperative to passionately recast our “lot” in a much larger, infinitely complex global ecological system. As Gregory Reggio so eloquently and powerfully captured in his epic 1982 film, "Koyaanisqatsi", we live in a world...a life, out of balance. How ironic that the United Nations COP17/CMP7 International Climate Conference has convened this week in Durban, South Africa, to discuss the most critical "out of balance" issue of our lifetime, climate change. ...just a few short hours away from where the banner shot on this page was taken.
Humanity has the combined technical capability to use science, politics, innovative technology and cultural awareness to reshape the global natural, social and economic environment to a point of balance and equity. Do we have the collective wisdom to use that knowledge to achieve and maintain that balance? I think we do, but like the sustainability journey we are on together, it'll take many steps and the political will to get there.
Please take a moment to add my new email to your contact list. I’ll retain firstname.lastname@example.org address as a general professional networking address, or you can reach me here or at Elan — my new contact details are pasted below. And of course, you can still find me on Twitter and my commentary on here and on other media sites.
All the Best!
Dave R. Meyer, Associate Director- Environment, Health & Safety
Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc.
800 Gateway Blvd., South San Francisco, CA 94080
Direct: +1 650.877.7624