Written by Josh Glover
29 Nov 2023

Sharpsmart Spotlight: Carl O’Neill

Blinding overhead lights, ears ringing with white noise, the metallic taste of blood and an arm-swinging brute coming towards him at breakneck speed. Carl had never boxed before in his life, how did he end up in this situation?

It must’ve been for a good cause…

We want to take a moment to shine the spotlight on Mr Barbecue Sauce personified, the Sharpsmart Commercial Director, Carl O’Neill.

Who Is the Man Behind Sharpsmart’s Commercial Team?

A Sittingborough native (Sittingbourne, Kent), Carl is the type of guy who uses a Boris bike to commute between 50 London community hospital sites throughout one of the largest clinical waste contingency roll-outs in Sharpsmart’s history.

Carl is a sociable and outgoing character who loves to experience life by exploring new places and spending quality time with family and friends. He’s also a huge fan of House music but maybe the less said about that the better…

What gets him out of bed in the morning? It’s not just his alarm clock, or his two boys wanting breakfast, it’s also the fulfilment he finds in supporting others and adding value to their lives wherever possible, knowing the work he’s doing is making a real difference.

In classic family man fashion, Carl is driven by doing everything he can to provide and be the best possible version of himself, both inside and outside of the workplace – Carl is Carl.


As for the boxing…

In 2022, Carl found himself undertaking months of cardio-intensive boxing training for the first time in his life because he wanted to experience something new and push his boundaries a little more in the process.

But in classic Carl fashion, he couldn’t allow it to be a purely self-benefitting endeavour, he signed up for a charity boxing event and used the opportunity to raise money for a Sharpsmart customer – Great Ormond Street Hospital.

So now that you have an idea of who Carl O’Neill is, let’s hear from the man himself. We sat down with Carl to better understand his time at Sharpsmart.

A key responsibility for Sharpsmart’s Commercial Director is making sure the business unit truly understands our customers and is actively supporting them in delivering their objectives – making sure we’re doing what we say we’ll do.

Let’s see what Carl has to say about his life at Sharpsmart.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do whilst on the job?

Probably not a strange one but one I remember vividly, it was a hot summer’s day and we were mobilising our Sharpsmart Reusable system and our Bag to bed system. Our customer had been having some challenges with their clinical waste collections, Sharpsmart wasn’t their clinical waste service provider, but we’re always willing to help where we can.

Anyway, the site was short-staffed and had an EA visit coming up, it turned out that they had some anatomical waste (mainly placentas not properly contained) sitting in a compound in the sun for a longer time than it probably should’ve been – this resulted in me helping them decant and repackage the waste whilst in a suit to ensure it could be collected compliantly.

I have a very strong sense of smell so you can imagine this wasn’t the most pleasant of tasks and something that I’ll never erase from my memory!!


What’s the most fulfilling thing you’ve done with Sharpsmart?

Developing and delivering our Total Waste Management Service back in 2018.

We’d never been involved in a project as large and had been awarded the contract for Royal Free Hospital in London – it was a totally managed service covering all waste streams within the facility and the management of waste porters.

It took some leg work, determination, and planning, and there were a fair few challenges (I like to call learnings) along the way.

Pulling it off successfully was fulfilling as there was only a four-week mobilisation period. It also helped put us on the map and demonstrate how we help our customers whilst continually developing our ‘Four Walls’ approach.


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve helped a customer overcome?

When Healthcare Environmental Services Limited (HES) went under in 2018, we had some big hospitals left without clinical waste collection and disposal services and the industry was in crisis mode.

We reacted fast and put in a contingency service for one of our Sharpsmart Reusable customers who were affected (South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) to ensure their clinical waste was being removed and taken for disposal.

At the time, we didn’t even have our own treatment process for clinical waste. We were working with third-party partners and external outlets which was a challenge in itself with a third of the treatment capacity no longer available.

To help South Tees and many of our other customers continue to run efficiently, we had to source the necessary resources to ensure we could continue moving these increased clinical waste volumes safely and in compliance.

We had to lean heavily on the connections, resources, and industry partners that we’d been building over the years to put in services we’d never delivered before this point, but we got it up and running in good time and managed to provide the support our customers needed.  


Is there a meaningful customer moment that stands out as especially rewarding?

There are so many.

A recent one is our new partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. They were in a position where they had three weeks left on their contract and didn’t have an extension option. The risk to them was that just a day or two without a service could potentially put one of their hospitals at a standstill so we had to act fast to figure out a solution and get it implemented as soon as possible.

With four acute hospitals and around 50 community sites, rolling out a full clinical waste service and Sharpsmart reusable containers was no mean feat. We managed to have it planned within two weeks to allow us to execute on the third week, replacing the containers that were being removed by their previous provider without missing any collections or disrupting the Trust’s operations.


What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over your career?

Truly understand the people I’m working with and ensure that everything I do adds value in some way to those involved.

If I’m asking a person for their time, I need to be sure I’m adding value.


How would you describe the culture at Sharpsmart?

We’re a close-knit team and there’s an innovative culture at Sharpsmart that’s passed down from our global leadership team.

You’re free to use your ideas to identify what we can do to support our customers – there’s no ceiling at Sharpsmart for anyone, in any role. It’s a place that encourages you to be passionate and have a can-do attitude every day.


If you could dispel one myth about the healthcare waste industry, what would that be?

There’s a lot of false belief about all healthcare waste being dangerous, or that it can all cause harm or infection. In reality, within most hospital environments around 70% of the waste isn’t actually harmful.  

This myth often leads to high volumes of waste being packaged and treated as infectious waste when with the right training and education in place, compliant solutions can be put in place to reduce waste overtreatment and drive more sustainable outcomes.


What advice would you give someone looking for a career with Sharpsmart?

Sharpsmart is a business with an entrepreneurial spirit and although we already have fantastic solutions in place, we’re always looking to innovate further, so my suggestion to anyone looking to join is to be willing to bring your ideas to the table.

Think outside of the box and bring your initiative, this isn’t a company that micromanages employees, instead, it’ll encourage and support you on your path to becoming an expert in what you do.

Be passionate about understanding the needs of our customers and push yourself to become part of our future solutions. Never be afraid to speak up and contribute your ideas – it’s a fast-moving industry and we don’t stand still!


Bonus Question: If you had to bottle Carl O’Neill as a sauce, what would it be, and why?

I’d liken myself to Barbecue sauce, it’s a little different to your standard condiments like your ketchups and your mayos – it’s unique in its own right and has an extra little kick, maybe that reflects me always wanting to give a bit more.

Join Our Pride!

Are you currently considering an exciting new career with an innovative company that gives you a platform for growth and development?

If you are, and you’d also like to be a part of making healthcare safer and more sustainable, you’ll fit in nicely with the Sharpsmart pride.



Header Style: 
Josh Glover

Josh Glover

Content Specialist

As a natural storyteller driven by curiosity, Josh aims to educate and engage through informative and thought-provoking content; working towards a safer and more sustainable healthcare system.