Never too old to innovate – an interview with Steve, CEO and founder of Sentry
Stephen Goss, CEO and founder of Sentry, is a Certified Practising Risk Manager, with not only a wealth of operational experience gained over many years, but the academic rigour behind him to back up his skills. He has been working in risk management and safety planning in the event sector for the past 20 years.
Sentry is a recognised expert and leading provider of safety, risk and emergency management solutions for major events and businesses, working alongside key event delivery partners including Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Vic Roads, WorkSafe, local councils and other organisations to obtain approval for events to go ahead. Sentry was responsible for obtaining approval for the first COVID – Safe Event for a “free roaming” event in Victoria – Moomba 2021.
Sentry has worked for and consulted to numerous high profile events across Australia including the Thoroughbred Racing Industry, Grand Prix Corporation, Tennis Australia, Sydney Opera House, Moomba, Pier to Pub Lorne, Tough Mudder, White Nights, New Year’s Eve, and many more.
Are you an event organiser? You’ll find valuable information in this article and video about risk and safety planning. In this interview, Steve answers some important questions about risk management and event approvals.
Steve describes how the touchless, cloud based L.E.V.8® online compliance portal can save many hours in administration and effort. It supports event organisers to gain approvals and provide the necessary assurances that go a long way in addressing many obligations. This has now become even more relevant in creating COVID Safe environments.
Listen to the video interview below:
What is risk management in a nutshell and why is it important?
John F Kennedy is famously quoted for saying “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” We are all in the business of taking risks. Taking well thought out and controlled risks provides a far better outcome than just winging it and relying on HOPE!
Managing risk is about managing uncertainty, or moving a situation from being highly uncertain to a state where there is greater certainty in the outcome. This may include reducing a risk from materialising in the first place or minimising the impact should an adverse event actually occur.
I know that sounds a bit theoretical but I can also explain it this way: You are planning a high profile, highly popular event that you know will attract large attendances presenting an overcrowding issue (we’re not including COVID risks in this example). The crowd density outside the venue is unknown, so we need to consider how we can take that from an uncertain potential risk of crowd crush to a more certain outcome where there is far less risk of this occurring. This may include measures such as structured queuing, providing crowd marshalls to keep people informed, signage, setting up contingency and overflow areas for people to wait, barricading and the list goes on.
You may still experience issues, but with proper planning, those issues should be alleviated.
If you consider the implications of an adverse event where there is a significant number of people attending, hundreds or thousands, then you can gain an appreciation of the complexity of event risk planning.
I often see a couple of regular gaps in the risk planning process, including the lack of understanding why something is considered a risk. In terms consistent with the Standards ISO 31000:2018 Risk management – Principles and Guidelines this is called “Establishing the Context”. If a client can tell me clearly why something is considered a risk, I can generally devise the appropriate, and defensible control strategies. Another term is the Assurance step, which is the process to prove that you have implemented all the things you say you are going to and quite often the missing piece.
As a risk professional, I can only ever claim to be as good as my last event, but by applying my experience and skills, the uncertainty associated with an event is drawn towards a more certain outcome. My mantra to clients is that I provide constant vigilance and provide fearless advice. Sometimes this can be a challenge. I control nothing but influence a lot of things.
What stops businesses from getting on the front foot and ensuring a proper risk management plan is in place before an event?
A lot of businesses, including some event organisers, treat the risk management process as a bit of a tick box exercise. They roll out the previous year’s documents and update the date and consider it done. This is usually prepared by someone who may have done a lot of events, but also finds it challenging to articulate why a particular risk situation may need to be addressed in a certain way. There are many legislative reasons why some risks must be controlled.
Risks, particularly in the event space, can be quite dynamic and need to be addressed in a very brief time frame. What a lot of businesses fail to recognise is that an adverse event is never an issue until it becomes an issue, and then they struggle to justify the required due diligence steps that should have been in place.
Many risk service providers, tend to skate along and are fortunately never tested. However, let’s reflect on what I consider to be one of the lowest water marks in event safety and risk management – the 2011 Kimberly UltraMarathon in WA where that incredible lady Turia Pitt was seriously burned. Although it was a little while ago now, it still as relevant today.
If you want to read that Inquiry, Microsoft Word – Report No. 13 – FINAL – 20120815 (SLP) (parliament.wa.gov.au) it will provide the context highlighting why it is so important to get this right. Not only are there a bunch of laws and regulations to cover off, most importantly there is the obligation to make sure that everyone is safe including organisers, spectators and participants.
Why did you create L.E.V.8® ?
The L.E.V.8® (pronounced “alleviate”) platform came about after too many years of dealing with disjointed systems, an inability to locate or gain access to a critical document that someone saved to a desktop, left attached to an email or didn’t receive at all. Also, essential risk information can be stored in many areas such as a spreadsheet, a word document, a database. I also found that when that information was needed, no one knew how to find it or access it.
My background, knowledge and experience of what is required from a compliance and operational perspective for event risk planning has been embedded in L.E.V.8®. Developing this seamless technology tool for my clients to use, saving them many hours of effort and time, was a natural progression and extension of my experience.
A little about me: I have an extensive history in risk and safety beginning with over two decades in Victoria Police where I gained an appreciation of organisational risk management. I observed how poor decisions in the field had a significant impact in the operational world, sometimes for years to come.
Towards the end of this career, I started tertiary studies in Risk Management at Monash University and eventually completed a Master’s Degree. I gained a job in the Minerals and Petroleum industry, with a focus on the upstream oil and gas industry in Bass Strait, as a Safety Regulator, auditing, investigating critical incidents and generally learning a lot about high risk industries and how they managed safety.
From there I went into the major events industry including time on the senior teams of Thoroughbred Racing Clubs and the Grand Prix Corporation before hanging out my shingle as a professional consultant in 2009 until today.
I have been fortunate to work for a number of high profile and iconic venues and events since that time including Tennis Australia, Red Bull, Sydney Opera House, Tough Mudder, White Night Events and more recently City of Melbourne Events including Moomba and New Year’s Eve.
The L.E.V.8® system is designed to be a one stop shop for event and venue operators for safety and compliance.
What does L.E.V.8® provide and how does it benefit event planners?
L.E.V.8® has been designed to “alleviate” the burden of planning and compliance for events and venues and to take the pressure off some of those time consuming tasks.
What started out a few years ago as a basic contractor management and staff compliance system, has now evolved into a comprehensive suite of interlinked modules that provide an all year round, simple and intuitive system (no IT geek required) to manage.
One customer has been able to reassign two full time staff.
The system has high functioning visible indicators that show managers particular focus areas such as overdue tasks. It is a comprehensive event logging system, e-learning platform, with a document management system, contractor management and staff compliance systems, and survey tools that you can customise, all interconnected.
It’s secure, it’s reliable and simple to use. A few hours of training and you’re underway. You may not even need that!
Final question – why “never too old to innovate”?
Having looked at the available options over many years, and while effective, the systems used were reliant on my involvement. Not finding an all-encompassing solution, a little over 3 years ago, I decided to create my own. I employed my own software engineer with experience in operational safety who takes my ideas and turns them into the magic that L.E.V.8® has become.
While its usually a young person’s world, you must innovate, test, adjust your approaches always. While I’m in the not-so-young category, it shows that you must continue to evolve if you are to provide the best solutions to everyday problems continuously.
While there are others out there that do what I do, I contend that none of them do it how I do it.
Request a demo of the L.E.V.8® Compliance Management Portal
Request a demo of a L.E.V.8® to see for yourself how this tool will help save you and your staff countless administration hours. Lift the administrative burden of compliance and get full visibility of your people, suppliers and compliance documents at the click of a button.
Book a demo here https://calendly.com/sentry/lev8_strategy_call or call Steve for a free 30 minute confidential discussion about your upcoming event on 1300 736 879.
Listen to the video interview below: