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Triumphing Through Challenges: a transformative academic journey by one of our safety consultants


Joe McKenna, one of our Safety Consultants, has had a remarkable year, filled with triumphs both in his professional and personal endeavours. In January 2020, Joe embarked on his academic journey by enrolling in the prestigious University of Portsmouth’s 2-year MSc program in Risk and Safety Leadership. Little did he know that the subsequent months, starting from September 2020, would be filled with distance learning alongside a diverse cohort of international students hailing from various industrial and commercial sectors.

Throughout the programme, Joe studied an array of modules covering a broad spectrum of subjects, including strategic risk management, crisis management, and the intricacies of high reliability organisations. Countless Zoom sessions, numerous thought-provoking essays, a handful of in-person tutorials, and a monumental 10,000-word thesis culminated in Joe’s achievement of an MSc degree with Merit in August 2022. Joe is now eagerly anticipating his official graduation next month,  we look forward to seeing the obligatory hat throwing photo!

From the Skies to Success: A Pilot’s Dream Takes Flight

Joe has also been busy obtaining his Private Pilot’s License. Ever since his first flight at Lyneham Flying Club in December 2019, Joe’s passion for aviation had been deeply ingrained within him. However, the onset of the global pandemic brought about an unforeseen disruption, halting his flying lessons for an agonising period of 18 months. Undeterred by setbacks, Joe persevered through numerous challenges, surmounted daunting exams, and even relocated from Bristol to Prestwick to pursue his dream. Joe soared to new heights by successfully passing his Skills Test on the very first attempt on May the fourth, filling his inner Star Wars geek with sheer delight. And yes, the enigmatic term “whizzy wheel” has become an indelible part of Joe’s vocabulary—a secret shared by those familiar with the aviation community.

With his adventurous spirit undeterred, Joe has already embarked on thrilling flights to Islay, savouring a delightful lunch amidst scenic surroundings. Now, fuelled by the excitement of exploration, he sets his sights on conquering more remote Scottish island airfields—an endeavour that promises to ignite his passion for discovery.

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