BeyondZero BeyondZero
Q&A Nov 23, 2022

Rise Up for BeyondZero: A Q&A with Catherine West

In this last Q&A, we connected with Senior Director, Global Safety & Health Catherine West, to wrap up our BeyondZero program’s 15-year anniversary series.

Catherine West headshot in Q&A banner


BeyondZero® is our approach to the health, safety and security of our people, the protection of the environment and the resilience of Jacobs. BeyondZero is so much more than a typical safety program. It’s helped us recognize and emphasize our whole selves, clearing the way for safety that encompasses the physical and emotional alongside the courage to raise our hands, speak up and stand down to create our Culture of Caring.

This year, BeyondZero is marking the 15-year anniversary of its launch – creating an opportunity for each of us to make an immediate and enduring commitment to contribute to our culture of work that’s healthy, safe and secure for our people and our planet. 

In celebration, we’ve talked with some of the team members leading the efforts to extend BeyondZero beyond where we work and into our daily lives, so we’re able to create a safer and healthier future for our families and our communities.

In this final feature, we’re talking with Catherine West, who is our Senior Director of Global Health & Safety, Operational Centers of Excellence.

Hi, Catherine. Tell us a bit about yourself and your role.

I’ve been in the Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) field for moe than 25 years in multiple industries including manufacturing, Department of Defense, commercial automotive and aerospace.   I’ve been with Jacobs for more than19 years with most of the time in the Critical Missions Solutions business CMS LOB before moving into our Operational Centers of Excellence team a little over three years ago.   My primary focus is the advancement of our BeyondZero Culture of Caring; collaborating with stakeholders across the company and business lines to deliver programs to do so.    

During this campaign, employees shared why “rising up” for BeyondZero was important to them – what’s your why?

I have so many “whys” it difficult to narrow down. Through lived experiences I’ve witnessed and been directly impacted by companies not taking care of their employees.  My father suffered a significant hearing loss from work exposure and my brother lost his hand from a problematic machine that the plant foreman refused to take offline to be fixed and he was told to “make do” to meet production.  Seeing how that has impacted their lives made a lasting impression on me and fuels my passion to ensure people are taken care of.   

On another personal note, I can’t imagine not being able to be a part of my kid’s lives.  I recently celebrated my daughter’s wedding, and I can’t imagine not being able to see the look of joy on her face and dancing like crazy at the reception.    Knowing how to protect my eyesight and stay healthy through all the BeyondZero and safety training over the years allowed me to do that.    

What about this BeyondZero anniversary campaign made you most proud?

It was great to see one of our Town Halls with Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou focused on BeyondZero and the executive leaders engaged to kick it off!   I felt it set the tone for the campaign and demonstrated that they are still fully behind advancing our BeyondZero culture. 

How has BeyondZero changed your day-to-day?

I’ve tried to impact my kids’ mindsets to embrace taking care of themselves and being prepared.  Key moments that stick out in my mind is when we go to a large event and right away, they start talking about where are the closest exit points to where we’re seated; where we’ll meet if we get separated and generally staying aware of the surroundings – a real life Safe Plan of Action!

Using personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t just something I do “on the job” but I use it every day.  I understand the value and importance of it that even when I go to the barn or working outside, I make sure I’ve got safety glasses, the right boots for the job, etc.

“BeyondZero isn’t a number or a metric and it’s not a destination. We’ll keep building on the foundation to broach other aspects of people’s wellbeing to see just how limitless our success will be.”

Catherine West headshot

Catherine West

Jacobs Senior Director, Global Safety & Health

At Jacobs, we start each meeting with a “Culture of Caring moment,” expanding traditional safety moments to encompass more tenets of Jacobs’ culture such as mental health, emotional wellbeing, professional development and inclusion and diversity. Can you share a Culture of Caring moment that’s stuck with you?

There’s one that has circulated regarding awareness around veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)  Being a veteran myself, I can appreciate that our Culture of Caring expands to every facet of ourselves now as well as our past.  Too many veterans don’t take advantage of the services available to help and struggle with events in their past that are still impacting their lives today. If it helps at least one reach out to get the help they deserve, it was worth putting it together. 

How do you see BeyondZero supporting our strategy to boldly move the company forward?

As we are committed to being a company like no other, BeyondZero is certainly a differentiator on our approach to the holistic safe keeping of our employees and as a guiding principle when faced with adversity.      It was likely never more overt than making management decisions through the pandemic; our proactive response to natural disasters and active engagements supporting our global communities such as Water for People and Bridges for Prosperity support.  Going forward, we’ll be exploring new opportunities to demonstrate internally and externally how Jacobs is a leader in these areas.     

If employees remember one thing about the BeyondZero 15-year anniversary celebrations, what do you hope their takeaway is? 

How enduring it is! I recall the criticism when it was initially rolled out as being the “flavor of the month” or how it would never take off.   Obviously after 15 years, Jacobs has demonstrated its commitment to the philosophy and principles behind it.  It’s been truly amazing to watch how far it can go when you give everyone a green light to openly care about people in the workplace around you.  We’ve destroyed the old mindsets that being a part of a work team only means they know you by the job you perform – now at Jacobs, being part of a team also means your teammates know what drives your passion and what means the most to you in your life. BeyondZero isn’t a number or a metric and it’s not a destination. We’ll keep building on the foundation to broach other aspects of people’s wellbeing to see just how limitless our success will be.      

What’s next for the BeyondZero team? What do you hope our next milestone will achieve?  

Our next big project to tackle is our BeyondZero onboarding process. With so many people working remotely or hybrid now, we’ve lost many of the key touch points to help people know what our BeyondZero culture is about and how they can be a part of it; teaching them that it’s okay to care about your teammates and it’s okay to say when you’re not okay and ask for help. Just like we’ve changed how and where we’re working, we need to change how we initially embrace employees when they join Jacobs.     

While we talk about building culture, caring, etc., we can’t lose site that BeyondZero started with a new way of keeping people safe. The past few years, our Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR), or the measurement of the number of people injured at work, has slightly ticked up. The next milestone is to continue to reduce the number of people getting hurt doing work for Jacobs.  

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

The opportunities available. I’ve been able to grow my career, work in multiple areas and on different projects, and stay geographically in the same area!

  • Catherine enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids

    Catherine enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids

  • Supporting segment at Johnson Space Center where they perform curator services for samples brought back from the Apollo moon missions

    Supporting segment at Johnson Space Center where they perform curator services for samples brought back from the Apollo moon missions

About the interviewee

Catherine West headshot

Catherine West is the Senior Global Director of Global Safety & Health in Jacobs’ Operations Centers of Excellence with more than 25 years’ experience in the health, safety and environmental field. She served for three years as the Program Chair for VetNet – one of Jacobs’ eight employee networks – and recently moved to the Wellness Manager role for VetNet to further focus on addressing mental wellness initiative for our veteran and military spouse employees.   A former officer in the Army Medical Services Corp, she is passionate about helping people and serving.  When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with family, watching sports and working with her husband on their farm in Tennessee.