A little back ground first. Paramedic for 10 years, B.S. Degree in Occ safety. last 10 years I had a very fast climb up the experience ladder. landed safety manager jobs within a year of the degree. Now, post 9 years since degree have transitioned from safety manager to insurance consultant and back to safety director for a large construction company. making good money for the location and size of employer, $100K plus and a car. supplemented my degree with an ARM certificate. I direct four field safety professionals state wide.
The three traits and skill sets that accelerated me to the position were
1. Communication Skills - first, the ability to listen and not jump to conclusions based on assumption about what I "think I know". Second, the ability to talk intelligently and relate with all levels of an organization. Third, the ability clearly articulate in both speech and written word.
2. Critical analysis and problem solving - honed as a paramedic in crisis mode, ability take written instruction ( e.g. regulations, policy, procedure and fit them into the real world situations.
3. understanding that everyone has their own idea of what safety is. just like everyone has their own emotional baggage, we have to be able to accommodate that and enforce a standard they are not used to at the same time. This means finding out what makes them tick and using it to get results.
in my mind i will hire any person with these skill sets regardless of how much "safety" experience they have. there are a lot of "safety people" out there who can quote chapter and verse every damn regulation there is, but they are terrible "safety managers".