My Story: Kim Gallagher
My story started in late 1993. I was about 30 (one line in and I’m already dating myself). I was working full time in the insurance department at an apartment management/owner company as a secretary (that’s what they called us back then). I handled workers’ compensation, as well as other claims (e.g., auto, liability), from beginning to end. That same year, I began attending a local community college part time to start a business management degree (my employer paid for all tuition and books if its employees went for a business or an accounting degree).
Ten years later, working full time and attending college part time, I received my bachelor’s degree. Still working for the same company and doing the same work, I asked my boss (that’s what we called them back then), who was our human resources director, “Now that I have earned my degree, what are you going to do with me?”
I was ready for a promotion, but he knew what I meant. He said, “Well, we’ve been thinking about hiring a safety manager and, considering your background, you might be right for the position.” He asked me to write a proposal to present to the company president (on my own time, by the way). He was making me earn it.
I spent many hours on a 12-page proposal for a safety manager position. It included much research within and outside the company on how I could help reduce work-related injuries. It also included some charts and graphs. After my proposal sat on our chief financial officer’s desk for three months, it finally got into the hands of the president, who was in another state. If I haven’t done so already, I’m about to “toot my own horn.” The day the president received and read my proposal, he wanted to have a video conference with my boss and me.
During that meeting, the president was both excited and surprised that I had done this on my own time and said that it was good. He offered me the position on the spot with an $8,000 increase in pay.
At the end of our video conference, I’ll never forget what he did and said. He kept waving my proposal up and down and said, “I’m going to keep this for a long time, and if you ever leave the company or seek other jobs in the future, I will be a forever reference.” I was both elated and proud.
And that’s how I got my start in safety, which is just the beginning.