BeyondZero BeyondZero
Q&A Jul 29, 2022

Rise Up for BeyondZero: A Q&A with Joe M. Olivarez Jr.

In this Q&A, we connected with Joe M. Olivarez Jr. , Vice President, Operational Center of Excellence to discuss Jacobs’ BeyondZero program, its 15-year anniversary and his personal commitment to rise up for BeyondZero.

Q&A with Joe M. Olivarez Jr. Jacobs Vice President Operational Center of Excellence

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’re talking 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 feature, we’re talking with Joe M. Olivarez Jr. who is our Vice President, Operational Center of Excellence.

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

Hello, my name is Joe M. Olivarez Jr. and I am the Vice President, Operational Center of Excellence for Jacobs, a global role responsible for Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Security & Resilience and Quality.

I started my career with Jacobs in November 2013 where I asked to build the first Global Security function within the company.  Now as the leader of the Operational Centers of Excellence,  the remit is broader and my focus is to drive strategy, build capability for enhanced business delivery, cultivate talent, enhance technology and measure our performance in the areas of HSE, Security & Resilience and Quality.

We do so with a collective group of talented personnel deployed strategically around the world to keep our people safe and execute efficiently. We leverage our partnerships in the Lines of Business (LOBs) to work collaboratively and in alignment with the aim of optimizing our performance.

How did you become interested in safety and security?

Born in El Paso, Texas my professional journey has spanned 30+ years in security and executive leadership. I started my early career (10 years) in government defense and later as a Special Agent with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) assigned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

After, I spent five years in investigative and security with an International firm consulting to Chief Security Officers and General Counsel of Corporate clients around the global spanning various vertical markets including oil & gas, technology, logistics, financial and the entertainment industry.  The consultation work addressed challenges and threats those businesses faced including, but not limited to fraud, collusion, embezzlement, insider trading, theft of intellectual property, bribery & corruption, safety & security of personnel abroad, executive protection and crisis management to name a few.

Just prior to Jacobs I worked for a global international oil field services company with over 70,000 employees operating in 80+ countries. My early remit was to build a global investigative capability and anti-corruption program  Prior to departing to join Jacobs, I led the company’s security for the Western Hemisphere Security Program and the Security Center of Excellence which included crisis management, investigations, physical security, security training, regulatory programs and communications.

“My purpose in life is to help others up. This includes doing all I can to keep our employees safe and secure no matter where they are around the world – the office, remote site or traveling. This also includes doing all I can to help them build capability to keep their families safe and secure. ”

Joe Olivarez

Joe M. Olivarez, Jr.

Jacobs Vice President, Operational Center of Excellence

I’m rising up for BeyondZero because…

BeyondZero was a main differentiator of why I chose Jacobs over a like competitor when I was a candidate for similar roles at both companies.  This difference I observed during the recruitment process was that taking care of people was built into the fabric of Jacobs.  It was a not a pre-programmed robotic process.  It was authentic and a true Culture of Caring that meant something to all and meant something to all in their own unique way. 

My purpose in life is to help others up.  This includes doing all I can to keep our employees safe and secure no matter where they are around the world – the office, remote site or traveling.  This also includes doing all I can to help them build capability to keep their families safe and secure.  

Over the last couple of years our world and business has been challenged. Regardless, if it was the pandemic, global conflict, or natural disasters each time I am continually gratified by how we rally as a collective body to overcome any challenge placed in our path. We do so with humility, respect and genuine care for each other. 

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

In our Climate accelerator, we have a big role to play in continuing to build our Environmental capability across our own business. Doing so will validate the capability to our external stakeholders and drive-up confidence in the deliverables we bring to our clients. In addition, our Resilience during the pandemic demonstrated our ability to deliver during times of stability and instability. We must continue to maintain and enhance our resilience as the business environment continues to become more complex.

In Data Solutions, , pairing our Cyber and Operational (Physical) security capabilities are best practices in a converged approach security world. Working with our Cyber & Intelligence team, we can ensure both the front door and back doors are secure to maintain the integrity of the data we develop or are shared with us by our clients. This leads to enhanced relationships and allowances for rapid processing of information to expedite execution.

When it comes to Consulting & Advisory, opportunities are endless in HSE, security and resilience. Strategic planning, HSE and security master planning, resilience frameworks, intelligence and information sharing, and risk analysis approaches are areas for contribution as we expand our business through mergers & acquisitions, organic growth or partnership agreements. 

What is an action we can each take today to support our Culture of Caring?

Often as problem solvers we want to get straight to solving the problem and move on. Sometimes there is not a problem to be solved, but a person to be heard. Resist the temptation to be robotic.  Openly and actively listen to those that have come to you. They have done so for a reason. Act in a way that keeps the channels open and makes them want to come back. 

Tell us about a career moment you’re most proud of.

There are many, but here at Jacobs being part of a team responsible for leading through the COVID-19 Pandemic was a proud moment. The fluidity of the scenarios, the variances in regional context, around the clock hours and the regulatory government changes made the assignment a significant challenge. However, the fact we had a resilience process in place and most importantly, personnel centered on ensuring the safety of our personnel first made the challenge surmountable. The people made the difference and there was never a doubt where the team stood as it related to looking after our people, never. 

What’s something you do differently every day because of BeyondZero?

Ensuring that I look after myself. Often as the leaders of BeyondZero we only focus on others, however, if we are not in good health, physically or mentally, it is difficult for us to look after others in an optimal manner. Feeling more comfortable looking after myself so I can be better for my colleagues and family.

What does the future of BeyondZero look like?

Where BeyondZero is not looked at as a “Brand”. It is who we are, period. 

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

To me it is all about the people. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to travel and meet colleagues across the Jacobs business. All my colleagues come with different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, etc. However, all had an authenticity level that makes you feel comfortable and allow you establish an instantaneous connection. I love that we have MS Teams and these connections have been maintained over the last two years. However, I do miss the personal interactions and I look forward to meeting personally again real soon. 

About the interviewee

Joe Olivarez

Joe M. Olivarez Jr. is the leader of the Operational Centers of Excellence, with over 34 years’ experience in government, private and public sector HSE and Security. Joe is dedicated to collaboration and genuine respect and admiration for his team and colleagues. A family man first and dedicated to helping others up in their personal and professional lives, Joe serves as a Board Member of ASIS International (largest security association globally) and on the United States State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) appointed by Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Married for 25 years to Marian, a former Investigator before starting a family, together the pair have 3 children – Nicholas, Kaitlyn and Ashley (Twins) and reside in League City, Texas just south of Houston.  Having three active children all of Joe’s spare time is spent at the ballpark because baseball and softball is a family passion.