Women of Meridian – Kat Jensen

Meridian’s new head of health and safety, Kat Jensen, knew she wasn’t the perfect candidate for the job when she bit the bullet and put her name forward.  
With a background in communications and engagement, she knew she’d be great at engaging audiences and getting vital messages across – but she wasn’t exactly a health and safety expert. Far from it.  
“I decided to just ignore the bullet point in the job description about health and safety expertise,” laughs Kat.  
“I didn’t tick all the boxes, but I knew I had some really solid skills that I would bring to this role. It’s such a trap focusing on all the reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t do something. It’s taken me many, many years, but positive self-talk has been key for me to recognise my strengths and have the bravery to take the plunge.”    
Before embarking on a leadership career, Kat spent a good chunk of her twenties and thirties scratching her travel bug. There were trips to India, Scandinavia, Canada and the United States, along with stints teaching English in China and Germany for several years.   
 “Somewhere in between all that I managed to hack out a career in comms.”   
And, eventually, the mother-of-two decided to concentrate on that career.   
“I spent so many years working out my place in the world and my contribution to it. It was only after stepping into a part-time comms role when my kids were little that I realised how important my career actually was to me, and the sense of fulfilment it gave. With my kids now busy with school and their after-school hobbies, I’ve been a bit more focused over the last couple of years on developing and growing by reaching for opportunities and taking on new challenges.”  
Setting a clear goal and being open and ambitious for new challenges was crucial to Kat taking that leap of faith in herself.  
“I just got really clear about what was important to me and where I wanted to go. That really made the difference. Once I started taking it seriously, good things started happening.”  
Taking it seriously included studying part-time for a master’s degree in management – something she enjoyed immensely.  
“It took almost three years. It was hard. It was a crazy juggle of work, kids and study, but the day I got to wear that graduation robe, holding the hands of my children at the ceremony, was one of the coolest moments of my life. I was so proud of myself.”  
She also began reaching out to colleagues and friends she admired for advice about how they got to where they were.   
“There was a pretty consistent theme amongst the people I chatted to – especially women in leadership roles – of self-belief, putting your hand up for any development opportunities that come your way, and letting people know you’re keen for the next opportunity.”  
“A few jaws may have dropped when I took on the health and safety role because it was quite unexpected and a bit of a turnabout from my career path to date. But I got so many supportive messages wishing me well – they could see the skills that I would bring to the role.”  
And with a lot of younger women in particular having reached out to congratulate her, it’s a cycle she sees repeating.  
“It made me appreciate more what I had achieved, and I realised - after looking up to so many amazing women - I was now in a position to hopefully inspire others.  
“It’s blimmin’ tough to put yourself out there when you know there are probably others more qualified. It doesn’t always work out – I’ve had a few knock-backs – but this time it did.”  
Meridian employees are often promoted based on their transferable skills, says Kat.  
“I think Meridian’s leadership team are good at identifying people’s potential and their skills that can be utilised across different parts of the business. There are examples of that right across the company, where your career path looks much more like a jungle gym than a vertical ladder.”   
Given what is at stake in the health and safety space for a company like Meridian, Kat’s new role is daunting. However, a culture that emphasises learning and improving rather than blame, along with a sense of shared responsibility, reassures her that the burden doesn’t rest solely with her.  
“When you’re dealing with high voltage electricity and climbing up wind turbines, your health and safety culture needs to be strong. It’s a daunting prospect to be head of such an important function, but it’s not all on one person’s shoulders.   
“From our electrical fitters and wind technicians, through to our customer consultants and people leaders, we all contribute to good health and safety outcomes. There’s a real sense of co-ownership, which is great.  
“Our people are good people. We support each other and we get along. There are a lot of deep friendships at Meridian among workmates. One of our values is that we are good humans. It’s nice to be part of a company where the values are genuine and truly lived.”  

Meridian is an equal opportunity employer with Advanced GenderTick accreditation. To learn more about working at Meridian, check out our careers homepage.

Women of Meridian is a series profiling some of the amazing women working across our company, with a focus on those in roles traditionally held by men. It’s about raising the visibility of these women, and the opportunities that exist here and across our industry. As the saying goes: if you can see it, you can be it.