The Business On... Heidi Mottram, chief executive, Northumbrian Water

The woman in charge of the Tyne?

Well, sort of. Northumbria does indeed supply water and sewage services in the North-east, though it also supplies customers in the South-east through its Essex & Suffolk Water business. Ms Mottram is doing rather well – the company said yesterday that profits and sales were running ahead of expectations. Also, environmental standards continue to improve – the Tyne, for example, is cleaner than it has been in decades – and despite the dry spell, there are no plans for any supply restrictions this summer.

So is Ms Mottram a water industry veteran?

Far from it. She got the job in April last year having worked in the rail industry ever since university. She's the first woman to take charge at one of Britain's big water companies and, at 46, is younger than most other FTSE 250 bosses too.

Why did Northumbrian want a rail executive?

She had an excellent reputation as the boss of Northern Rail, which is the UK's biggest train operating company, picking up a string of awards, including an OBE. The "Tell Heidi" initiative she ran at the company, encouraging staff to bring their concerns and ideas to her, has been widely copied. Northumbrian, meanwhile, hasn't always enjoyed the best reputation for service and openness, so Ms Mottram was the ideal candidate.

She's not a train spotter then?

She joined British Rail as a management trainee in 1986, having failed to get a grant for a postgraduate course that would have qualified her as a National Parks ranger. Still, she thrived in the role, winning plaudits early on for the way in which she dealt with the derailment of a parcels train at Leeds station. She also made the transition very successfully following privatisation, holding down progressively more senior roles at GNER, Midland Mainline and Arriva.

And when she's not plugging all those leaks?

Yorkshire born and bred, you might find her in her holiday cottage in Whitby.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam