Kelly Bernish

Current Position: Manager, Safety Services at Walt Disney World
Kelly Bernish
Highlight There are so much work to be done in the SH&E Engineering field and some great resources to be successful. Take advantage of a great mentor and network!
February 2, 2012Her job: Manager, Safety Services, Walt Disney World
Describe what you do in your current work situation? I manage a team of safety professional as well as work on safety project work for Safety Services at Walt Disney Park & Resorts
Why did you choose engineering? I started in the field of Safety Engineering when many companies did not realize the true need for a Safety Professional. At the time my company chose me to take care of the Safety responsibilities even though I didnt have any experience. I learned very quickly!
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have? I graduated from Kent State University in Ohio with a Bachelors of Science. Since then I have taken countless continuing education classes and am also a Certified Occupational Safety Specialist, a certified Playground Inspector and Food Safety Manager.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work? A lot of work around regaularoty compliance both in the Environmental and Safety field. That includes program development, education and implementation. I also manage direct reports and teams. I have also been in Claims Management. Ride Safety and Guest Safety in our parks has been a big part of my work as well.
What do you like best about being an engineer? The type of work I do is both technical and the softer side of Engineering so I have the best of both worlds!
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of? Mostly that every day I know what I do makes a difference in the lives of people and for the environment. Thats what I am most proud of. I have had many special projects along the way and recently finished publishing a book about women in the SH&E field but all of the pales in comparison to helping people go home the same way they came to work!
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career? For women in particular I think it can be more difficult, so its the process of having to prove yourself and also wlaking a very thin line of being assertive versus being perceived as being aggressive.
Please tell us a little about your family. I am a mother of two college aged daughters and have a wonderful family of friends and animals in my life.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals? My short term goals are to be successful in my new role and really drive true safety cultural change. Long term, I would like to get my masters degree and CSP certification and teach and consult.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices? I think I am naturally independent, confident and a leader. Those are all critical attributes for a women in the SH&E field to excel.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering? Get your education first! Second, get experience as an intern or a volunteer. NETWORK!! That is probably one of the most important things you can do next to getting a great mentor! Do all of that!!
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book. I am a volunteer junkie! Sometimes I have to stop myself from thinking I can save the world!! I am the Chairperson of Women in Safety Engineering, chairperson of the Alliance fro Central Florida Safety, am active in my local ASSE Chapter including Chairing Fundraising, on the Board for the Ovarian Cancer Alliance and a variety of other special projects including the Childrens Safety Village. I LOVE being outdoors and all sports especially tennis and regularly practice yoga and am very into healthful nutrition.