Improving Environmental, Health and Safety, One Risk Reduction Step at a Time

Andrew Corral, a 2016 MBA graduate, backed into a career in environmental, health and safety, having stepped away from finance and banking just ahead of the 2007-08 market meltdown. The move was, as he tells it, “serendipitous.”

Andrew had set his sights on finance or banking after attending Texas State University, “But life happened — I was ferociously searching for jobs in finance and some of my friends were working for banks,” he recalls. “This was in 2006, and it seemed like people were making money hand over fist in the banking industry. It just didn’t work out for me.”

What did work out was an opportunity to apply for an entry-level city job in construction/maintenance. “I played sports when I was younger, and construction was a way to stay in shape,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’ll do this until the finance thing pans out,’ but soon began to realize the benefits were spectacular — especially since I was starting a family. Several promotions and 13 years later, I never did make the jump to finance.”

Good thing for the City of Burbank, where he served promoting the EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) Profession for almost a decade while the organization invested in his pursuit of a MBA degree. He recently took his expertise south, starting a new position as Environmental, Health and Safety Manager for South Coast Water District in Laguna Beach.

Day to day, it’s been worlds away from stock or bond trading. “I can be strategically planning injury and illness reduction goals one day, and at a hazardous waste storage site the next, indexing chemicals for safe transport and disposal,” he says. “One day I can be working with contractors to deliver training to employees on how to protect themselves in environments that have atmospheric hazards — possibly due to toxic chemicals — the next working on how to persuade the C-Suite to focus more on leading indicator injury metrics instead of on lagging indicator metrics.”

In EHS, Andrew serves as both resource and manager. “I build a framework to effectively administer various EHS programs — respiratory protection, hazardous materials management, hearing conservation, fall protection, ergonomics, confined space entry — across many operations,” he says. “It’s all about risk triage. In EHS, we prioritize based on severity and frequency.”

The work has brought him into frequent contact with an alphabet soup of state and federal agencies, among them the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the state Department of Industrial Relations, and the CHP, and in conjunction with local police and fire departments. Add to that, on the federal level, the EPA, the Department of Transportation and federal OSHA.

Andrew originally found Woodbury through the Leadership Burbank program and a series of leadership and supervisory courses conducted in partnership with the city. “The university is set up for small class instruction, which amplified the learning environment for me,” he states. “As I concluded the MBA program, I was prepared to reconcile business challenges with appropriate, well-thought out considerations and actionable solutions.”

He has been applying those lessons to the public sector ever since. “Working for a government agency has been extremely rewarding,” he says. “Even though my contribution may be small scale, I’m able to make an impact on broader changes I’d like to see in our country and on our planet. The bottom line is that it is satisfying to know that what I do is geared toward helping to save the environment, and save lives. I’m very passionate about it.”

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