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Going against the flow at Severn Trent Water

Mark Chillingworth | July 30, 2013
A wide-ranging transformation plan under CIO Myron Hrycyk has turned Severn Trent Water from an ailing utility into a forward-thinking supplier

Transformation has been flowing continuously through Severn Trent Water for the last five years. The floodgates of change opened when a new board arrived at the then troubled utility, bringing with it a new CIO in Myron Hrycyk. During his time in the role, the company has gone from having problems with regulators to fielding a number of acquisition offers.

Severn Trent Water is the second largest water provider in the UK and is one of the few water utilities on the London Stock Exchange.

"We produce enough water each day to give everyone in the world a glass of water," says Hrycyk. His transformation project took a lot of effort to get going but, once up and running, has proved unstoppable.

"It's a lot like moving a flywheel, it takes a lot of initial effort, but then it keeps its own momentum," he says.

"The transformation is driven by our KPIs, which are focused on health and safety, customer experience and on preventing leakage — and IT has really contributed to these.

"The company has totally turned around and we have built up a really strong relationship with the regulators," the Coventry-based CIO says, reminding us that it's only five years since Ofwat fined Severn Trent £35.8m for delivering poor service to its customers.

"We see ourselves as progressive and we are keen to see how we can change the regulations so that there can be an introduction of water trading, rather than having all organisations producing water.

"Also, can water companies look to merge or expand so that they can gain economies of scale? We are working with the regulators to see how we can move the agenda on.

"After all, if we can run a really lean operation, then that strengthens our position," he says of the changes that have transformed for Severn Trent from bête noire to darling. But, he says, Severn Trent isn't just looking to benefit its shareholders, and he and the rest of the leadership team know the benefits they can offer the UK and their local economy.

"Some 80% of our spend is with local UK businesses and we contract with and use a lot of local services. Over the five-year period we are spending £2.5 billion on waste and water services in our region and for the Midlands we are a key contributor to the local economy," he says. The company employs 6,000 people across the region.

Hrycyk is also head of the shared support operation within Severn Trent, which operates the six key processes of the organisation, such as finance. Shared services is also at the heart of the organisational programmes behind the transformation of Severn Trent Water. Hrycyk describes each of the strands.

 

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