In the seventh of a nine-part Q&A series, NAS VP of HR Tim Healey answers questions about his life, career, and a nomination for this year’s awards.
No one was prepared for the disruption and change that would come from the COVID-19 outbreak. In the early days of the outbreak, it was difficult to get reliable information. What information was available seemed to change daily. Northern Aviation Services (NAS) needed a focal point to find, correlate, and distill information. Tim Healey quickly became the company’s COVID-19 guru. Despite all the policy work, he never forgot that every person exposed or who tested positive was an individual with specific circumstances.
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
I grew up in Seattle. I attended Seattle Prep High School, Western Washington University, where I received a B.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology with a minor in Communications, and the University of Southern California, where I received an MBA. I am married with two grown kids. My wife, Anne, and I live in Normandy Park (Washington).
Tell me about your career, your current position, and what led you to it.
That is a long story. I worked at Weyerhaeuser for 20 years, where I held positions at Corporate and Manufacturing site locations in Longview and Federal Way, Washington, and Flint River, Georgia. I have held positions in Organization Development, Change Management, and Human Resource Leadership. I’ve also held positions in Transportation as the Director of the Rail Transportation Services team and as the Breakbulk Marketing Director for Westwood Shipping, Weyerhaeuser’s marine shipping line that shipped from the PNW to Japan, Korea, and China. I have also held HR positions at T-Mobile, and a Community Action Agency, helping people experiencing low incomes and homelessness break the cycle of poverty. I heard about the opening at NAS and knew about the great reputation of Saltchuk, and I was fortunate to be offered the position in the fall of 2019.
In your own words, why were you nominated for a Safety Award?
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent our employees needed help deciding how to respond to a rapidly changing situation. Quite honestly, initially, I was hesitant to take the lead on this effort because I felt so unqualified to keep our employees safe and healthy. I was quickly reminded by some of the leaders in the company that no one was qualified to respond to this unprecedented effort; we needed support, and the Human Resources team was the best equipped given what we knew.
From there, the whole HR team stepped up to the challenge. The HR team developed a COVID-19 guidebook, housed on our central SharePoint site, that contained the guidelines and protocols for everything we could think was required, including areas like proper use of PPE, testing, contact tracing, quarantining expectations, notifications of affected employees, and return-to-work guidelines for recovering employees. We had to develop the content from scratch since this was such a new topic for the company and the country. Michiel Versteeg from Saltchuk was a huge help in guiding us. We identified early on a COVID-19 testing option that allowed employees to send a saliva sample overnight to a lab and receive the results within 36 hours. Giving employees that quick feedback on this concerning virus is probably my proudest accomplishment.
In short, I have been nominated for this award because the Northern Aviation Services HR team, which I am a proud member of, rose to the challenge and is guiding our company through a once-in-a-lifetime challenge.
Is there something in your life that drove your commitment to safety? How did you end up so focused on it?
During college summer breaks, I worked on the docks in the salmon industry in Egegik, Alaska. I learned firsthand the importance of safety and the high cost of not working safely. I also spent much of my career working for heavy industry manufacturing companies. The decision to work and behave safely every day has very real life-or-death consequences.
What was your first impression of NAS? Tell us your favorite story about your time with the company.
My first impression of NAS was visiting our site in Anchorage for interviews before being offered the job. I was impressed with how honest and direct everyone was about the benefits of working at NAS and the challenges they faced as they worked to improve and grow the company.
A story I have told a few times happened actually before I officially started working at NAS. The week before I was scheduled to start, I came to the Saltchuk headquarters building to complete some hiring paperwork. While I was there, a couple of the Saltchuk HR leaders took me aside and explained NAS was behind on some important HR-related deadlines and asked how they could help me get this done ASAP. They provided me the data and requirements, and I started working with them that week to get the decisions made before I had even started with the company!
Think about a time in your career when you felt like what you were doing was somehow less than completely safe. What did you learn from that experience?
I would refer back to my experience working in Egegik. We cut many corners and were fortunate most of the time that no one was seriously hurt. I had one experience when I got my arm stuck in a leather conveyor belt used for moving fish – that was the result of unsafe behaviors and a mistake on my part. It could’ve been much worse if not for the quick actions of one of my co-workers. I learned the importance of conducting a pre-work hazard identification before starting unfamiliar tasks.
Speaking up for safety can be difficult for some people. What advice would you give to someone within our family of companies who’s convinced their feedback won’t matter – or worse, that they’ll somehow be punished for taking action?
This is a good question and a tough one to answer in words. I would just say we should please speak up and watch our actions. Since I have been here, I have seen consistently positive and ethical behavior and actions from both Saltchuk and NAS leaders. I can assure you your feedback will be listened to, it does matter, and you will not be punished for your actions. Throughout my career, the people I have admired most are the people who have seen something and said something and not allowed the behavior or condition to continue uncorrected.