Practitioner Spotlight--Alizabeth Smith

Practitioner Spotlight--Alizabeth Smith

January 4th, 2016

Name:

Alizabeth Aramowicz Smith

Office:

Cleveland, Ohio Office – but I work remotely in Richmond, Indiana

Practice Area:

EHS Auditing and Compliance

Area of expertise:

Compliance programs and audits

Favorite Thing about Being a Practitioner:

Developing tangible data to demonstrate protection of the environment and safety of global citizens

What is the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on?

There is no doubt in my mind the project from which I gained the most experience and confidence in my profession was working for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I was asked to live in Heidelberg, Germany and work with the US Army in Europe and the US State Department to negotiate what environmental laws would apply to the US military facilities in Europe. I had worked for a number of years with the senior leadership of the Air Combat Command bases in North and South America to bring them into compliance with US regulations.

This project was a challenge as we needed to define where the US regulatory authority stopped and where the host-nation laws would be applied. What made it difficult was the various environmental regulatory paradigms and getting them to mesh. Besides being the expert in the room, I had to translate the requirements back to the various DOD organizations and then develop with a team a way to audit and track compliance. This included moving from board rooms to field work across Europe. It set the stage for my ability to juggle various cultures and requirements and be able to talk to Western-based companies on how to make the transition.

What is a key ingredient for success as a practitioner?

Mental flexibility and being able to listen and resynthesize what a client is saying has to be key. I think the biggest struggle I see with younger consultants it that they have success with one solution or process and then immediately go and try to fit it to another client. While you can always reuse ideas, I think the real art is taking a successful idea and challenging yourself to see how it WON’T immediately work for a client. Addressing the mismatch will ultimately allow you to find a better way to personalize and customize a solution.

I was recently invited to sit for two days with a client’s global leadership and listen to their compliance plans and barriers. I found that my role was to be a mirror – tell them what I was hearing and what I knew from data analysis of their audits, and where I saw growth opportunities for them. I was not selling anything but my thoughts – and that was my value for them. I was sort of a senior leadership therapist, if you will! Being able to elevate participants out of their siloed viewpoints toward a collaborative approach is what I think has made me very successful.

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

Creating global teams for our clients. I truly have friends in the Inogen system that skype or text me with jokes, pictures, and thoughts about their days. That sense of community in a virtual office is fantastic and allows us to slip into the client community so much better than if we only worked together once or twice a year. I love that I can pull a team of folks together from around the world, launch a solution, and everyone will listen, ask critical questions, and give the client a consistent product. The Inogen model has been a great success for the clients I work with – and I am consistently proud of how it is managed and the synergy it creates for us as global consultants. 

What surprises people about your job?  

That I do all this global work from my office in Richmond, Indiana: population 35,000. It was easier to believe when I was in the Albany, NY office!

If you could develop a new solution for the practice, what would it be?

I'd love to develop solutions like a generic finding database or a trends analysis of ALL EHS audit data to see what we can glean. 

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

An optometrist – I love looking into eyes and the various unique color combinations. I don’t remember that changing until, thanks to my amazing liberal arts education, I was taking Peace and Global Studies and realized that I wanted to be a global citizen. It was not until I studied and lived in Kenya (working on the UCLA hyena project and as a volunteer for the East African Wildlife Society) that I knew I wanted specifically to work in environmental policy development. I was fortunate to have a biology and psychology undergraduate program that married nicely with my graduate work.

What TV show character do you identify most with? 

MacGyver – You should see what bits and pieces I carry in my computer bag! When I am driving my own vehicle,  I am set for the zombie apocalypse – or fixing a broken wing of a plan with duct tape.

If you had one month off, where would you go or what would you do? 

This is easy! I would spend a month on and around Frederick, Maryland and specifically on Mount Catoctin. I spend at least two weeks every summer there being a head cook for 150 “lucky” individuals. Ideally I would pick up a sous chef position at either Fire or Family Diner. 

What is your most treasured possession?

My Ed Levin gold and silver bracelet that I wear in lieu of a watch. The two metals always remind me of the childhood song "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” A good life lesson. I came to wear the bracelet because during the birth of my first son, my watch stopped. For some women in labor a watch can be a tool to keep “control”– and mine stopped! I took it as a message to suspend time and to relax into the moment. My husband, a Vermonter, knew of Ed’s designs and had a bracelet commissioned. I only take it off to go through airport security!

What historical or fictional character would you most like to work with?

Mr. Darcy!

 

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