Trecia Allen making her mark
Trecia Allen's youthful look belies her nearly 20 years' experience as a safety, health and environmental professional, and the Caribbean's first female to become a certified safety professional with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals in Illinois, USA.
She is also a certified ISO 31000 risk manager with Professional Evaluation and Certification Board, Montreal, Canada, and a qualified environmental professional with the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice, Michigan, USA. She is one of two persons in Jamaica with those designations.
Add to that the fact that she has led the successful implementation, certification and re-certification to both ISO 9001 and 14001 management systems, at five facilities operated by the Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG) of Companies. She is a true trailblazer.
In her current position as group safety, environment and standards manager at JBG, Allen reports directly to the president of the Jamaica operations. She leads a team comprising a medical doctor, industrial hygienist, engineers, chemists, registered nurses, environmental scientist and safety and environment officers, while liaising with external contractors, consultants and service providers.
Under her portfolio is the environmental management programme, which develops, manages and monitors the group's environmental system in keeping with international best practices and in compliance with local environmental legislations. The development and monitoring of the group's safety management systems also fall under Allen's portfolio and she provides sterling leadership in the implementation of effective programmes which have seen dramatic in reduction health and safety risks and accidents.
"The Best Dressed Poultry Processing Plant was the first to be ISO 14001 (environmental management system) certified in the Caribbean in 2007 and has been recertified ever since. The company pursued this because we were aware that impacts from its environmental aspects such as solid waste, air emissions and waste water must be managed properly as a business imperative. This is especially critical since we operate in proximity to densely populated areas. It has always been important to our management team that residents in the communities not be adversely affected by our operations," Allen said.
"In fact, I am constantly being challenged to ensure that Jamaica Broilers Group stays ahead of the market and is prepared to manage environmental and safety risks and exploit any opportunities that could arise," she continued.
Today, waste from the poultry processing plant, is rendered and exported for use in pet foods, hence it is diverted from waste disposal sites. Additionally, we want to advance our discussions on how to harness the methane from our wastewater ponds for fuel. "We are also looking at how to introduce degradable packaging, in keeping with our thrust to remain environmentally friendly," Allen noted.
Before joining JBG, Allen made her mark in the public sector. She transitioned from government service to Jamaica Broilers where she was awarded a Hubert H. Humphrey Fulbright Fellowship at the University of California, Davis, in the USA.
"That was a great opportunity for me to see how some of America's largest manufacturers managed their safety and environment systems and it helped to inform how the JBG systems were set up to meet international standards," she noted.
Operating in what is considered a male dominated profession, Allen said she has not been daunted by that fact.
"It was never about breaking the glass ceiling ... that was never something I aspired to. I did what I wanted to do, with the Lord's guidance, support of my husband Michael, my mentors and the push from management and team members," she noted.
This science major has always enjoyed the academics and describes herself as competitive, but in a subtle way. Her insatiable love for learning was evident when, as a toddler, Allen said she was told by her mother, Dorrell Mullings, that she would wake up early in the mornings and run away from the school cottage in her nightdress into a classroom at the adjoining Happy Grove All Age School, where her father, Rupert Mullings, was principal. After all, she could speak at 11 months and proved to be a bright child, who was at least one grade ahead of her peers. As a little girl, she wrote letters to Aunt Suzie at the Children's Own, which were published.
"I was always so focussed on my studies, but shy. So, if I were able to speak to myself as a 12-year-old student at Hampton High School, I would tell me to have some fun and get involved in extra-curricular activities, such as learning to play a musical instrument or participating in School's Challenge Quiz, because I would have done well," Allen said.
She is still focussed on achieving at the highest level in her profession and encourages her team members to do likewise. A stickler for details, with an organised and structured approach to her work, she makes time for mentoring not just her team members, but other co-workers who seek her advice. She is a committed Christian who says she relies on the Lord's guidance for everything ... and she is not shy about that.
"I am a leader who likes to see my colleagues grow by experience and training. I want them to grow not just academically, but by leveraging the knowledge they gain to grow the organisation," she noted.
Trecia has been recognised for her leadership abilities and academic performance with such awards as The Distinguished Principal's Award for Outstanding Leadership in 2005 at the Mona School of Business and Management while pursuing her Master's in Business Administration, and the Sherwin Williams Science Scholarship in 1996 and 1997, while doing her first degree at the University of the West Indies, respectively.
At the end of a busy day, Allen looks forward to spending time alone, to think and analyse, while listening to devotional material and spending time with her family.
She has plans to be more actively involved at a national level in changing the way Jamaicans dispose of and manage waste and do her part in sensitising the nation regarding how to protect the environment for future generations, including her four-year-old daughter, Emily.