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Q&A: LEEA CEO Ross Moloney on Global Lifting Awareness Day 2024

Ross Moloney, CEO of LEEA, on how to celebrate 2024's Global Lifting Awareness Day this July 18.

July 4, 2024  By Jack Burton

Ross Moloney, CEO of LEEA.

The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), with the support of numerous organizations across the heavy lifting industry, are planning to shine a spotlight on the heavy lifting industry for the fifth consecutive year with 2024’s Global Lifting Awareness Day (GLAD), set for Thursday, July 18.

We sat down with Ross Moloney, CEO of LEEA, to discuss some of the history and goals behind this day, the importance of increasing awareness of what the heavy lifting industry is capable of, along with how – and why – our readers should celebrate.

CHC: Can you share a bit about Global Lifting Awareness Day, such as how it came to be and what some of the overall goals of this initiative are?

Ross Moloney: Global Lifting Awareness Day began when I was at an event, and I was talking with various people in the hotel lobby and in the bar about problems and challenges that our industry faced – the usual things that every industry does that when they get together. The question of ‘What are we?’ was a prominent part of those discussions, and was really highlighted as a key part to the challenges that we face.

We started talking about recruitment, and we’re talking about hiring, which eventually lead to the issue of awareness. I think what keeps a managing director awake in the middle of the night all boils down to the fact that there is a limited awareness of what we do. Those within the industry are very cognizant, smart and savvy about the challenges that they face, but their customers often just don’t have any idea about the intricacies involved in the lifting industry.

That common experience was the motivation, really, behind Global Lifting Awareness Day. Having a day where the industry itself got together is an important way to help it come out of the shadows a little bit by showing everyone what we do, how difficult the work can be, and most importantly, what’s possible in this sector.

So GLAD’s not for vanity: the impact that we’re looking for is to make our industry into one where it is a career of choice by people who are interested in engineering. Aerospace, Formula One, of course, sound like the most glamorous and sexy parts of the engineering footprint. But actually, what we do in lifting on a daily basis is pretty remarkable.


CHC: As CEO of LEEA, what is your organization’s involvement in GLAD?

Moloney: Well, that conversation in a hotel lobby between an editor of a magazine, a PR guy, myself, and others quickly turned into, ‘Yeah, we should do something about this.’ The seed was planted, but we had to decide how to make this into a reality. That’s where LEEA comes in.

LEEA is a trade association: we are a not-for-profit with a single organizational vision, to eliminate accident, injury and fatality. We’ve got a global membership with more than 1000 corporate members across 80 countries.

But GLAD is not a trade association initiative, it’s an industry initiative. GLAD wouldn’t be anywhere near the movement that it is if it was just a trade association pushing out messages. What makes it really important and impactful is channels like you, LEEA’s membership and players in the industry that are talking about it. GLAD is not LEEA day, it’s a day when LEEA stands with other members of the industry around the world.


CHC: Could you speak to the inclusion of the word “global” in this initiative, and how it impacts your approach to this day of recognition?

Moloney: This day could easily have just been, ‘What’s wrong with the UK industry?’ Or, ‘What’s wrong with the North American industry?’ But as a global industry, our foe is gravity – and gravity is a global concept. While there might be slight differences in terms of the standards that we work to and the materials that we use, our industry versus gravity is a global challenge.

The longer I’ve worked in the industry, and the closer I’ve gotten to other people doing this work, the more I’ve realized that our product and our people are not limited to where passports hold them. Whenever I travel, I meet people who are working from different nationalities who speak different languages, where their native standards are often not the standards that used in the country they’re working in.

I believe that ours is probably one of the most globalized industries that actually exists, when you think about where the majority of product is made, where design happens, where people are trained, where they come from, and their birthplace. It’s a very specialized industry, with a very flexible work force.

This was really brought to life when the price of shipping really went up – it affected all of us globally, because wherever we were based, we were still moving stuff around the world. I always describe our industry as one where things can’t always be sent by email: sometimes it has to be put on something, whether it be a ship or a plane.

At the end of the day, we are a global industry. The products that your readers in Canada use won’t all be made in Canada, by Canadians. Those working in Canada won’t all be Canadian passport holders. This fact really drives legitimate conversations around what the global best practices are, so that we can ultimately raise standards.

That’s one thing LEEA is really passionate about, raising standards worldwide, because our global ambition is for our industry to eliminate accidents. In our industry, that’s about managing risk. So when we say that our foe is gravity, we mean that gravity doesn’t change depending on whether it had a bad day or has a headache ­– gravity is a constant. So, the risk is the same and is always there. If we can start thinking about our standards, we’re always going to be able at least mitigate the risk associated with gravity.


CHC: How does GLAD plan to increase awareness of the lifting industry this year?

Moloney: The ‘awareness’ part is key here; we encourage everybody involved with gravity-defying objectives to participate. Last year, we had an in-person event at the Palace of Westminster in London with UK lawmakers, and we’ve done various webinars on this day in the past. This year, we’re deliberately and actively going for a social media domination campaign.

Part of GLAD’s campaign for its 2024 instalment involves highlighting important contributions across lifting’s legacy, including industrial engineering giant Brunel.

One conversation we’ve been having across all of our social channels is talking about where we’ve come from in order to get to where we want to go. Our argument is that cars can only go faster because we’ve invented brakes. When you keep somebody safe, it means the next person can go even higher or even further.

The material we’ve put out in advance of GLAD showcases that journey. We started off with Brunel. In the UK, we recently had a survey of the most important Britons in the history of Great Britain and he came second, after Winston Churchill. Brunel was the father of the Industrial Revolution, and if we ever had any advantage on this little rock in the North Atlantic, it was the Industrial Revolution.

The other two spotlights in the history of lifting that we are planning to highlight are the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is a perfect illustration of the global impact of lifting. And then there’s the image of the renovations at Tiffany’s in downtown Manhattan, where our industry literally put a crane on top of the building so that we could do some more work.

Yeah, it’s not a Formula One car, it’s not putting something into space – but neither of those would happen without lifting.


CHC: How can our readers celebrate and participate in GLAD?

Moloney: The encouragement that I’d give to anyone thinking about participating in GLAD is that it can be as big or as small as possible. Just using that #GLAD2024 hashtag to show the movement and create that awareness will help increase the visibility of what we do.

There’s no need to overthink what to share – really, just anything from your operations or the industry that you want to people to know about. The conversation that started GLAD was all about answering the question of, ‘how do we exist in this industry?’ How we exist – and excel – is sharing knowledge and information.

One of the joys of our industry that I love is we’re all in it together – we compete with each other, sure, but when you get us around the bar at an event, it becomes an organic oneness. That oneness is exactly what we’re looking to make visible with GLAD.

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