Market Leaders Pick Their Market Leader: Who is the water industry boss you'd want on tap?

Chris Mellor

Group Managing Director

Anglian Water

IT IS difficult to pick out one player. I do have a lot of respect for Vic Cocker of Severn Trent and Graham Hawker of Hyder, but if pressed, I would have to choose a newcomer to the water scene. Rebecca Mark is chairman and CEO of Azurix, the global water business of Enron. She thinks big and is a real global player. The water industry needs people who are able to make big, brave decisions as she has done, to transform a traditional utility into an innovative, competitive and forward-thinking business. The water industry in the UK needs a fresh approach if it is to compete successfully in the lucrative international market and roll back intrusive regulation. Her roots are in the American utility sector but she has thought and acted globally from the beginning, pursuing asset development and privatisation opportunities around the world as she developed new business for Enron. Rebecca is definitely one to watch, a formidable competitor and I wish her well - but not too well.

Bryn Bellis

Director

Dee Valley Water

ACTUALLY, NOBODY really stands out in the industry for me at the moment, although the City does hold up South Staffordshire as a financial success. The whole business works through evolution rather than revolution, so it isn't really reliant on people to stand out as movers and shakers, it's more of a fine-tuning business. The water industry moves slowly and is slow to change because of the way regulation works. And we can't really change the way it works. Because it is such a highly regulated industry, we have to all provide a constant high level of service. I suppose that Ofwat really measures efficiency but the models it uses aren't terribly accurate as far as I'm concerned and the way they work changes over time. So, as I say, there isn't one market leader at present as we all strive to achieve the same level of competence.

Colin Skellett

Chairman

Wessex Water Services Ltd and Azurix Services

I THINK that from the current crop of senior managers and directors Derek Green of United Utilities stands out. He has managed to stabilise the company and has got it focused back on the basics after a difficult period for them. He managed to turn it around and get it focused once more on the core business. This was a tremendous job considering the state of the business when he arrived. He has also been sensible enough to stick to his date of retirement. Of those currently running companies, he would be my market leader. If we were to look back over the industry for the past 20 years and ask what has it achieved, I think that WaterAid has been the water industry's greatest achievement so far. It is a charity supported by the water industry which provides water and sewage arrangements in developing countries and has helped well over 10 million people, and it was a chap called David Kinnersley who was involved in setting it up. He has retired now but it was his idea which has done so much good in the world. I am extremely impressed by what he did in the past, and the legacy he has left for the future.

Brian Duckworth

Managing Director

Severn Trent Water

I SUPPOSE I'd have to choose two people from different sides of the industry but people who in their different ways are very impressive: Pamela Taylor, the chief executive of Water UK, and Bob Baty of South West Water. Pamela Taylor is chief executive of our trade association which brings together the water companies to speak with one voice. She has created a credible voice for our industry and has put an enormous amount of energy into doing so. She's organised and focused, has drive, energy and determination and is seen as a voice of the industry.

For the way he's turned around South West Water, I am very impressed with Bob Baty. The company was having very bad PR problems. It had implemented huge price increases to finance a massive sewage investment programme round the coast. It was also the target for take-overs. In fact, these takeover attempts were probably the spur that caused South West to get its act together. It became more open and started to deliver more complex investment plans. It has become more acceptable within the business scene and has been seen as not letting the side down, as it were. Much of the credit for these moves should go to Bob.

Phil Holder

Managing Director

Sutton and East Surrey Water

THE MANAGING director of Severn Trent Water, Brian Duckworth, has played a tremendously important role in the water industry over the past two years. As the first chairman of the industry's new national body, Water UK, he's been instrumental in pulling the entire sector together, both public and private, in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. He's been the industry's most effective ambassador. What comes across when you meet Brian is his knowledge, his enthusiasm, and his ability to communicate. He can take very complex matters and turn them into something anyone can understand - a skill that's vital in a technical industry like ours. Being a figurehead for the industry requires diplomacy and tact, but that doesn't mean Brian's afraid to address major issues. If it needs tackling, Brian's right there telling it as it is.

Bob Baty

Chief Executive

South West Water

FOR ME there are three impressive characters currently at work within the industry. There is Brian Duckworth of Severn Trent, who is also chairman of Water UK. During a difficult period he managed to run his own company and articulate the views of the industry. I am very impressed by his flexibility and ability. Derek Green of United Utilities is also impressive. He stepped up to take the helm at a very difficult time for United and he has had a positive effect and made important changes. Finally, Colin Skellet at Wessex Water should be mentioned as he has looked after Wessex's interests and has marketed the successes of Wessex in an impressive manner. The challenge of the industry is really to recognise that we are working in changing times and operating within the political arena. The key to success is to recognise these influences and work with them.

A R Neve

Technical Director

Portsmouth Water plc

THIS IS quite a difficult question to answer as we don't really regard ourselves as being a part of the water utility industry as we are a water- only business. We try to maintain a strong tradition of public water supply rather than involving ourselves in diversification. We don't really have the funds to diversify and so don't really follow the lead of what one might call the market leaders. But certainly I would say that we find the immense effort and achievement of Pamela Taylor of Water UK tremendously helpful. She has given to the water-only companies their own identity and has really unified the whole industry to the extent of including the Scottish and Irish businesses. She has done a great deal for the industry and is therefore a key player within the industry.

Then there are the figures such as John Browning of Bristol Water, and Jim McGown of Three Valleys Water, who have both been figureheads in the water-only companies. They certainly played an important part during privatisation.

Philip Ashcroft

Operations Director

Three Valleys Water

IN THE past 10 years the UK water industry has been transformed. This is due to regulation and the people at the helm of the various businesses. The regulator, Ian Byatt, has undoubtedly played a significant part in the first decade of the privatised industry. Privatisation and tough regulation has propelled the industry in the country to a happy position where it is recognised as a world leader and a natural benchmark for others. Recently, Jean-Marie Messier, chairman of Vivendi, has shown the same sort of impact in the water sector. Within the UK, South Staffordshire Water had stood business on its head. While a lot of industry concentrated on striping out costs and on the core business, it has been particularly successful in developing a whole stream of revenue from non-core businesses.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003