Sarah-Jane Dunford has already experienced a diverse career path, but all with the same end-goal of ensuring the safety of her colleagues, clients and friends.
As the Founder of Riskology Consulting, a workplace safety consultancy, she is a passionate leader in her field and works hard to communicate vital safety messages in a non-threatening and creative way. She is committed to the community, having provided over $150,000 worth of free services to local charities and not-for-profits since the establishment of Riskology in 2010.
Sarah-Jane is also the driving force behind the Hunter Safety Awards, created to recognise and celebrate local businesses and individuals who themselves are leaders in safety. To add to her impressive career, in 2018 she launched the inaugural NSW Regional Safety Conference & Expo.
- Tell us about the journey that lead you to start your own business
I first got into the industry because three close friends were injured during a safety accident at work – one lost their leg, another became a paraplegic from falling off a roof, and another got a degenerative back condition. In my early twenties I got into the safety industry, but I felt like I wanted to make a real difference to a number of businesses and thought rather than going into a senior safety role, I could make more of a difference if I go out into safety consulting.
- Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, I didn’t. And the hardest thing I ever did was exiting life in the cubicle. It was probably the scariest thing that I’ve ever done – taking that leap.
But when I realised that leap was quite easy, it was easier for me to do it in the future time and time again.
A lot of people say to me “how can you do all these different businesses and go out and just chase an idea?” And I think, “well, there’s not much of an investment in the idea to start with, so just jump in and work out the rest later.”
- What is one action or task you ensure you incorporate into your diary each week?
There’s a number of tasks. From a client perspective, making sure that I’ve got touch points for each of my clients and also that all my processes are working. So touching base with my bookkeeper and actions like that to make sure things are all running.
But from a personal perspective, work-life balance is very important to me. I make sure that I do things to de-stress, such as getting home, feeding my bison, going for a dirt bike ride, and painting. Those things where it’s totally non-work-related and it’s my happy place, and making sure that I do those at least once a week.
- What do you attribute your success to?
I think the big thing is being fearless. A lot of people will say, “how have you escaped the cubicle?” And I said, “just do it – just go and do it”. I think if you have an idea, you just run for it and work out the rest later.
But also, be all things influencing, be a true reflection of yourself, don’t be fake and be a nice person. And so, when you meet with people in your network, you’re just yourself and that shines through, and if people want to work with you then they do. You will end up working with people that you like and you’ll enjoy the work that you do.
- Which local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
I think there’s too many to pinpoint one exact one, but, for example, if I look at people that I really aspire to be like, it would be people like Jamie Oliver. I know he does things completely different to what I do, but I love that he’s got that flare and he looks outside the box to what he can really do to disrupt the market. I love people that do that.