Every company needs to ensure their workplace is safe and their employees are trained in best practice health, safety and environmental compliance, and that’s where Liesl Esau comes in. Her company HSE Matters is helping companies to get it right.
LoA chatted to Liesl Esau this month to find out more.
What does your company do?
We consult in Occupational health and safety and Environmental management and provide customised training for our clients in high hazard industries and commercial and hospitality sectors across Southern Africa.
"What inspired me to start the company was the need to fulfil a deep desire to make work environments safer so that workers/staff go home to their families safely and enable a more productive working environment."
What inspired you to start your company?
To fulfil a deep desire to make work environments safer so that workers/staff go home to their families safely and enable a more productive working environment. Having had over 15 years’ experience in high hazard industries e.g. Oil/ Gas and Chemicals, I was deeply involved in promoting a safer work ethic and managing technical aspects to make the work environment safer. I was exposed to and lead fatality investigations and through my corporate learning, learning through accidents and implementation of Health, Safety and Environmental issues and systems have gained volumes of knowledge to assist other companies to better improve their operations. I was also inspired to assist smaller organizations with their Health, Safety and Environmental Compliance journey so that they are able to grow their businesses and acquire bigger projects.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Our combined experience and knowledge in the petrochemical, chemical and construction fields equip us to assist clients in their compliance journeys and their operational efficiencies. We are a team that prides ourselves on always learning more about our industry and the industries of our clients to better service them. We pride ourselves in improving our competencies and therefore implement a training plan with our own staff. We design packages to suit the needs of our clients and look for value adding activities to differentiate our clients in their own sectors.
"Our combined experience and knowledge in the petrochemical, chemical and construction fields equip us to assist clients in their compliance journeys and their operational efficiencies."
Tell us a little about your team
We have technical safety officers and team support staff who have many years on site experience with the relevant tertiary qualifications and we continue to develop our skills on an ongoing basis. Our marketing manager works endlessly to build the brand and ensure that HSE Matters becomes a recognised brand. A number of partners who assist us with Social Media, building customised online work tools and accredited training providers.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My dad has been self employed as a building contractor for the past 40 years and I have learned that owning and running your own business is not easy. I witnessed the ups and downs and as a young person committed to never being self-employed nor an entrepreneur. However, the gut feeling to start my own business was with me for as long as I remember, but I was only empowered and brave enough to start in my mid-thirties, driven by the grace of God.
Filled with excitement and ready to take on the world I began the journey full time, left my very cosy and secure job with 2 toddlers in the family and started to walk up a very steep and difficult hill. Six months later, we signed with the first client in the gas sector (who still remains with me today) and my business started to see the light. One year later, the client base doubled (some once off clients, others retainer clients). I then took a difficult decision and through much prayer, decided to hire a technical safety officer to be based 1500km away from me because our client base expanded to different provinces. Two years later, we further increased the client base.
Although the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel - there are times when the tunnel falls down and other times the tunnel climbs up - but the light is always there. As a result, as a team we have learnt to plan meticulously and risk assess each step we take. The 15 years spent working in the field and experience in corporate boardrooms prepared me for this entrepreneurial journey in such male dominated sectors, my hands on experience, our confidence and reputation as a team is key to the growth of HSE Matters.
"We have technical safety officers and team support staff who have many years on site experience with the relevant tertiary qualifications and we continue to develop our skills on an ongoing basis."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I would like for HSE Matters to be a platform through which we provide learnership opportunities to students in these fields to better prepare them for better employment opportunities. I would like HSE Matters to research and continue to learn and find ways to better improve safer and healthier work environments. I see HSE Matters working with entrepreneurship incubators in South Africa to include Health and Safety as part of their modules in the business development programmes. Health and Safety in growing businesses is just as important as any other function in a business whether it be a high hazard operation/ business or an office based environment. All these business have people, and people should be safe at work.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being able to think out of the box, being free to find solutions and seeing the satisfaction of a client's face. Being able to give employment opportunities to deserving youth.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Research your business. Know what you want to do and how to do it. Know your competition. Spend time understanding the problem your client faces with the aim to solve their problem. Be focused and most importantly, be honest.
Contact or follow HSE Matters
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love those women entrepreneurs who take on traditionally male dominated business and industry environments and make them their own by providing high quality services and solutions in their areas of expertise. Liesl Esau, founder of HSE Matters is proof positive that with the hard work and determination, combined with high quality service delivery, you can break into any tough marketplace and achieve success. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa