Monday, June 1, 2015

Regulatory compliance manager; fancy title or job description?

Recent activities I have been involved in have made me think that people really don't understand what it is that I do for a living.

There's no secret that I work for a grease interceptor manufacturer, But, what do I do for Schier?

Am I in sales?  No.

Wait, let me correct that.  I believe everyone is a sales person in one way or another.  For example, my wife would say that she is absolutely not cut out to be in sales.  But when she really wants something, she seems to have no problem presenting me with all of the features and benefits that would justify her request - which usually boil down to me having a happy and contented wife.

Hey, who doesn't want a happy and contented wife?

I generally find that preferable to just about anything else in the entire universe as it tends to provide a much "safer" environment at home.

My kids are some of the best sales people I know, with their mom and dad anyway.  They can be very creative in their justifications for why we should do this thing, or buy that thing, or go to such and such a place, all the while hammering home the features of this or that and the benefits that either they specifically would enjoy or that we all would collectively enjoy together.

Sales is really just the art of persuasion.  Some are naturally more gifted at it than others', and they typically end up selling for a living, but everyone has sold someone something at some point in their life.

Okay, so in the sense of doing "sales" for a living, no, I don't do that anymore. In other words, Schier does not pay me to sell anything.  I can't even tell you what our sales look like anymore because I am very much out of that loop.

So what do I do?

You might say that I am an advocate.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines advocate as, "one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal", or "one that supports or promotes the interests of another."

Who or what do I advocate for?

I am an advocate for fats, oils and grease (FOG) abatement in wastewater collection systems to reduce or eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) and their resultant risks to human health and safety.

That is my job description.  It has taken a while for it to come into clear focus, even for me.

What it means is that, while I am paid to do what I do by Schier Products, I am not paid to promote or sell for Schier Products.

I am in fact paid by Schier Products to advocate for what I think is right for FOG abatement in wastewater collection systems.

The advocacy I do is both internal and external to Schier.

When working with Schier I may advocate for some specific product improvements to make field inspections by pretreatment personnel easier or I might advocate for a new product to solve problems I am seeing in the field.

When working with pretreatment programs I may advocate for improving the requirements in an ordinance, or to remove some restrictive language that will hurt enforcement efforts, or to stop mandating products that are untested for performance.

When working with plumbing codes I may advocate for improved less-confusing-language regarding which fixtures should be routed to an interceptor, or I might take a stand against proposed changes that might lead to conflicts with pretreatment requirements or would loosen restrictions that would, in my opinion, be harmful to wastewater collection systems.

When working with standards such as ASME A112.14.3, I might advocate for more accountability in the standard and less prescriptive design requirements that shackle manufacturers and stifle innovation - something very much needed in grease interceptor design and operation, in my opinion.

I think it's important to understand that I see what I do, not as a job, but as a calling.

I believe in the "cause" of FOG abatement.

When you passionately believe in something you are willing to fight for it. You are willing to take actions that you believe in your heart will make a difference for your cause.

I guess that means that you might ruffle a few feathers. You might not "go along" to get along - if getting along means compromising what you believe in.

That being said, I love engaging with the pretreatment community and others who are equally interested in the issues surrounding FOG deposit formation and the exploration of solutions that might mitigate its deleterious effects.

My job title sure can be confusing, but I take my role in the cause seriously and I welcome the challenges, debates, and struggles that are necessary to make a real difference for us all.

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