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A Day in the Life of Joyce Tallent

What is your current role, and how long have you been with Direct Line?
I am the Safety Manager of a site in Forest City, NC. I have been with Direct Line for four years.

What kind of education and training did your career require? What do you think is needed to be successful in your role?

  • I attended Iowa State and completed the Homeland Security program. I also attended Eastern Iowa Community College and the Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute (HMTRI).
  • My associate degree is in Environmental Science. If something concerned water, air, or soil, I was involved.
  • I was the president of an environmental conservation club for two years.
  • I have a CDL.
  • I have experience as a Grade 1 Wastewater treatment operator in North Carolina. I am certified by the state.
  • Other certifications include:
    • 40-hour HAZWOPER
    • OSHA 30
    • OSHA 510
    • OSHA 500
    • OSHA 7505
    • Train the Trainer
    • Certified Safety Professional (CSP)
    • I have more certifications, but there are too many to list.

To be successful in my role, I never stop learning! I seek continuous self-improvement.

What does a typical day look like for you working at Direct Line?
My days are all about safety. I go to worksites, speak to every worker about safety-related concerns, and address the concerns if necessary. If I feel that the team needs additional training, I schedule a safety class and ensure everyone attends. I believe in positive reinforcement, so I make it a point to recognize workers who put a significant effort into being safe and bringing safety suggestions to the table. I also make sure to meet with other team leaders and have honest conversations regarding safety.

What would you like to say to someone interested in applying at Direct Line?
Direct Line is a growing company. If you work hard and stay true to your goals, the sky is the limit. We have progression paths to help you get there. If you want to feel like you can make a difference in the world, you are coming to the right place. Direct will teach you everything you need to know, even if you have never worked this type of job. You will be skilled and feel confident in no time!

Tell us about your career path at Direct Line.
I entered the safety field after being a HAZMAT Technician at another organization. The safety department had lost its safety director and I filled in until they could find a replacement. However, they never hired a replacement, so I remained in place. This lit a fire in me. I began reading everything I could about safety issues and programs, and I surrounded myself with safety-minded individuals.

Then, I took a job with Direct Line and realized I could help the company grow. My background was in manufacturing, but I always envisioned myself on the construction side. My father worked in construction for Duke Power all his life and was a carpenter on the side.

Now, construction safety is my niche. I am always looking for the best ways to keep sites safe.

I know I will never retire because I genuinely love what I do. If I do need to step down, I will be a safety consultant. Safety training will always make me happy. I walk the walk and I talk the talk to help keep our women and men safe!

What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
I had a wonderful friend who encouraged me to go into technology. I’ve come to realize that I have a purpose in this field.

Can you share some of the challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech industry? How did you overcome them?
It once was a male-dominated industry, more so back when I first entered the safety field in 2004. Honestly, just a few years back it was difficult to get others to take me seriously and trust my skills and knowledge. It took some time for them to get to know me and stop assuming that I lacked the necessary skills because I was female. I had to prove myself and stand up for safety. Now, I can connect with workers with ease. They come to me and ask questions to solve safety cares and concerns. I am taken aback when other safety professionals approach me to talk about safety. I feel proud that I can help them, and they respect me as a safety professional. I will always share my experiences and safety knowledge.

Who are some of the women who have inspired or mentored you throughout your career?
My mom! She always supported me in anything I wanted to do. Additionally, I had a wonderful mentor when I worked at Ingersol Rand. Christin Annieoplis, my Safety Manager, coached me and forced me to take the lead on GEMBA walks, teach safety protocols to the workers, design policies, write JHAs, and attend management meetings with her. We still speak today!

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the tech field?
Connect with other professionals who will help you to grow and be there to field questions without judgment. Just because you are a woman does not mean you are less. Go out there and show them what you’ve got!

I had an uncle who raced cars and said I could not be a race car driver, so I bought a car and raced it! My sister told me I could not build a building by myself, so I did. My husband told me I could not drive a truck, so I did it for 5 years. My machinist neighbor said I could not become a machinist, so I became a manual machine machinist and did it for 5 years. Work hard and have thick skin. Set your sites on what you want to do and do it! The only thing that can get in your way is yourself.

What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
Earning my Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification & my OSHA 500! I am always learning and striving to be the best-informed safety professional. I was also the first student at BRCC to earn a sustainability certificate and the president of an environmental conservation club for two years.

How do you think the tech industry has evolved in terms of gender diversity and inclusion since you began your career?
Today, more companies are recognizing that women can do what men can do. Women are now seen as resolute and responsible assets.

In your opinion, what changes could companies make to help encourage more gender diversity in tech?
Offer internships, provide support, and team them up with forward-thinking mentors. This will set them up for success!

What steps have you taken to advocate for gender equality and diversity in tech within the organization and the broader industry?
I make female workers feel like they are welcome. I tell them to find a mentor to guide them until they feel more comfortable performing necessary tasks. Additionally, I sit on the Board of Directors of the Blue Ridge Safety Council. We meet with like-minded professionals, have lunch, and learn. 80% of the attendees and members are women.

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