Meeting with Julia Kunlo, president of Raleigh-Based Evolution Safety Resources (ESR)

Julia Kunlo, MSOSH, CSP, has been named president of Evolution Safety Resources (ESR), an occupational safety consulting firm that serves the construction sector and other industries from its headquarters in Raleigh. Kunlo was instrumental in building the start-up (established in 2017) into the Carolinas market while expanding services across the country and internationally.

GroundBak Carolinas caught up with Kunlo to learn more about his background and get a glimpse of his strategic vision for ESR.

How did you get into the workplace safety business?

I entered the construction industry after finishing my studies. I started out as a production manager and eventually moved on to additional responsibilities in the areas of quality and safety. Although security was originally an add-on to my role, I fell in love with it immediately and wanted to find a way to pursue a full-time career there. When the opportunity to build a security business from the ground up presented itself, it was too exciting an opportunity to turn down. So my family and I sold our house in Maryland, packed up our things and moved to Raleigh to give it a real shot.

You are a relatively young leader. What do you attribute your success to?

I’ve always believed in setting goals and creating action plans. I’ve discovered that great accomplishments rarely happen by chance – they’re the result of strategic planning, hard work, dedication, and constant evaluation. The goals I set for this company were always focused on building and growing a consulting firm that met clients where they were, made workplace safety practical for them, and then developed business plans. improvement to help them be the best versions of themselves. This model really took off. The company grew rapidly and I grew alongside it as a leader. It sounds cliché, but I really love what I do; I believe the energy I bring to the table tends to be contagious and has helped me connect and grow.

Evolution Safety Resources (ESR) has grown steadily since its inception. You have helped make the company the innovative, award-winning company it is today. How do you see the foreseeable future unfolding?

We get a lot of positive feedback from customers who use us as their “outsourced security department” (a split security team, akin to split CEO fashion). These are clients who receive security services from our team for a set number of hours per month. It’s a great affordable option for businesses with 25-150 employees that need a security team but don’t necessarily have a large security budget. I see this model continuing to grow in the future.

What sets you apart from other security consulting firms in the Carolinas?

I believe that ESR tactics tend to focus first on understanding our customers, meeting them where they are, and then developing practical solutions to their needs. It’s definitely not a “one size fits all” approach, which I don’t think tends to make much of a difference in the long run. We also have a team of some of the most accredited, licensed, certified and well-established professionals in the market. Because we have so much security expertise and years of experience on our bench, we are able to resolve issues faster and strive to do so with the highest level of quality.

As a female leader in the world of security and the construction industry, what are some of the unique challenges you face?

While being a woman in construction comes with some challenges (sometimes you have to prove yourself instead of gaining instant credibility), I also like seeing the opportunity. In most rooms I enter, I stand like a sore thumb. Instead of letting this make me uncomfortable, I try to step in and remember my mind and my abilities as opposed to my gender. Being memorable in a large group of people can be a real asset, especially in networking and business development.

How do you find a work/life balance?

How is one of us? We do our best, make mistakes, and then try to be better the next day. It’s a consistent battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

How do you think your staff would describe you?

I do my best to be a supportive and energizing personality in the office. I am very grateful that our team is made up of motivated, intelligent and positive players. I see it as my job to give them encouragement, resources and guidance – but also the right amount of space to take ownership of their roles in their own way. I hope they feel that way!

Specialized expertise

Kunlo’s safety credentials include Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Masters in Occupational Safety and Health, and OSHA OTI Level 500 and 501 Instructor. She is a Craft Instructor and NCCER Performance Evaluator, has earned his Construction Manager Environmental Health and Safety (C-MESH) designation and is an authorized instructor for the National Safety Council (NSC). Over the years, she has developed specialized expertise in auditing safety management systems and developing written safety programs.

Information Sharing

Earlier this year, Kunlo was the featured guest on “The Case for Safety” podcast produced by the American Society of Safety Professionals. Check out the episode with Kunlo, titled “Accidentally a Safety Professional? Here’s What You Need to Learn Right Now.” Click here to listen.