+64 (0)9 376 4764

My Story

How I Got to Where I am – Gillian Somerville

Gillian Somerville
The importance of addressing human factors through complex systems became obvious to me during my 3 years working at ICL, a large IT company in the UK with clients ranging from Government Departments through to the Metropolitan Police and Ministry of Defence amongst others. I couldn’t understand why IT systems costing hundreds of thousands of pounds were passing all their in-house benchmarking, meeting the business requirements of the client but failing when they were installed on site. I started asking questions and discovered no one had asked the end user what they needed this system to do to enable them to do their job – as simple as that.

ICL doesn’t exist now was it because their product wasn‘t meeting the needs of their client’s staff who refused to use it when it was installed or because they made a huge number of people redundant all at once and just didn’t have the numbers to keep operating – I’ll never know because I walked away with enough to pay for a year at Loughborough doing an MSc Ergonomics – to learn how to define the physical and cognitive requirements of the user population and then integrate these through the project lifecycle and operational environments.

And I have had a great time doing just that in the real world for real commercial companies making work places that work – meeting the requirements of the user, the business and technology – I have been with track gangs at midnight as they worked on the track, been to smelting yards at a steels works, sat with underground train drivers whizzing through tunnels really getting to experience what they experience, even sat on a 747 flight deck from London to Los Angeles – in the days when that was allowed, been out with the tugs bringing in a ship and been in awe at the skill of the men manoeuvring a huge ship against the elements of wind and tide. I also had the opportunity to work in Hong Kong and Bangkok where we were not only addressing operational issues but also dealing with communication issues between the English-speaking project team and the client – I am excellent at charades!

I love what I do and I see its application everywhere, spreading the word about the benefits and value of human factors integration is my mission and I am passionate about it! So much so that I have presented to The New Zealand Society of Risk Management and SKM at their lunchtime learning – I appreciate people coming to listen and even if they only get a little bit of information and are curious to learn more then it is a win for me and my mission. I was also a speaker at the Contractor Safety Alignment Conference 2013 in Auckland and Total Safety Culture Conference 2013 in Wellington. In 2016, I presented at the CORE 2016 Rail Conference in Melbourne, raising the issue of technology’s encroachment into the human realm with a paper entitled - Who’s Driving this Tram?

In addition to my Masters from Loughborough I also have a Bachelor degree in Human Geography, Diploma in Environmental Management and Certificate in Marketing Management all from the University of Auckland and 2 safety certificates from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority. I see a synergy between all these – they are all people focused. I am a member of the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET), National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), and an associate member of the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ). I am also an Associate Certified New Zealand Ergonomist.

Are you curious and want to know more about the benefits and value of this approach? Call me on +64 9 376 4764 or +64 21 968 131 I would love work together to make your work environment as efficient, productive and safe as possible!

Companies I have worked with

During my 20 years of experience, I have been fortunate to work with the following great companies