In a world driven by technology and innovation, the intersection of human behaviour and advanced systems has become a crucial area of focus. If you’ve ever wondered about the career path that leads to the field of Human Factors, read on. In this blog post, we dive into an insightful conversation with a Principal Human Factors professional, Paul Sirett.

 The Journey Begins

For Paul, it all started with a role in the military. Paul spent four formative years in the Parachute Regiment, interacting with complex systems and equipment, from radios to advanced weaponry systems. These experiences unveiled the realisation that the interaction and design of these systems were far from optimal and that there must be a career path to support the development of complex organisations and the associated systems.

“I started to look around when I knew I was going to be leaving the military,” our Paul reminisced. “I thought there must be something I can get into that focuses on making systems equipment, and organisational processes better.

The Evolution of Human Factors

As Paul departed from the military, the concept of Human Factors was emerging as a growing field. With a background in Organisational Psychology, he embarked on a path that ultimately merged numerous disciplines such as Ergonomics, Human Factors, Organisational Psychology, and Business Processes. What began as an exploration into system interactions expanded into a deep-seated commitment to understanding the human element in every facet of working life.

Bridging the Gap: Human Factors in Financial Services

Over time, Human Factors transitioned from a fragmented notion to a cohesive discipline recognised for its potential to enhance not only safety but also efficiency and the bottom line. It’s no longer limited to military contexts; Human Factors now extends its reach into sectors as diverse as financial services and banking and is now recognised in all high-hazard sectors such as nuclear, rail, Oil and Gas etc.

As our discussion unfolded, Paul shifted toward the challenges of introducing Human Factors to industries unfamiliar with its potential. Financial services, a sector synonymous with profit and risk, may seem worlds apart from Human Factors. Yet, a strategic approach that aligns with their goals can bridge this gap. By reframing the conversation and focusing on aspects like inclusivity and cognitive strategies to improve decision-making, Human Factors experts can provide tangible benefits, such as increased efficiency and cost savings.

“It’s about finding the language that resonates with each sector,” Paul emphasised. “Whether it’s inclusive design for buildings or optimising cognitive processes for financial decisions, Human Factors offer tailored solutions that cater to diverse needs.”

Embracing Challenges and Change

In the pursuit of a meaningful career, embracing challenges and adapting to change is crucial. Paul’s experiences working for both large engineering firms and smaller, specialised consultancies revealed the power of a supportive community. He felt:

“IHF offered a nurturing environment for like-minded individuals to collaborate effectively.  Also at Integrated Human Factors, I can work remotely and I enjoy working at client sites occasionally.”

Navigating Uncharted Territories

With an eagerness to explore uncharted territories, Paul’s journey led to the intriguing realm of nuclear energy. While Nuclear energy may seem far removed from everyday life, its application of Human Factors principles sheds light on the broader impact of this discipline. Human factors are crucial in the nuclear sector to ensure safety, prevent errors, and optimise operations.

“What attracts me to IHF is the diversity of its portfolio,” Paul shared. “While I appreciate the opportunities in Nuclear, I’m also excited about the prospect of applying Human Factors principles to other sectors as well.”

The Power of Perspective

Stepping away from career-oriented dialogue, our conversation delved into the personal passions that fuel Paul’s life outside of work. From a household bustling with two young huskies to the restoration of an old Victorian house, he keeps himself busy.  His passion is Judo, being a 2nd Dan Black Belt, however, that is on hold at the moment given his other commitments.

The Future: Where Human Factors Thrive

As our conversation ended, we explored the potential future of Human Factors for those looking to break into this career path. IHF is building an academy dedicated to growing Human Factors skills and mentorship. In a rapidly evolving world, continuous education and collaboration are paramount.

In industries like nuclear power or energy production, the Human Factors application ensures operational safety, preventing catastrophic failures stemming from human error.  But whether it is financial services or cyber security if human beings are involved Human Factors play an equally important role. Human Factors are important in non-hazardous sectors because they improve productivity, employee well-being, and user satisfaction by tailoring systems and processes to human capabilities and needs, ultimately fostering efficiency and innovation.  All organisations have people at the forefront of their business, and they are the ‘glue’ that keeps the business running in times of unique or difficult circumstances.  Human Factors is the discipline that has the tools and techniques to reinforce and enhance people and the organisation so that the business is efficient, safe, and profitable.