PS1

Peter Simpson

CEO

Anglian Water Group

What does Build Back Better mean to you?

Covid has been a catalyst for seismic change. The enforced pause it has triggered offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset: to re-evaluate our approach to our economy, our housing and our infrastructure, putting people and the environment at the heart. Building back better means building back smarter, with sustainability and resilience always at the forefront of our minds.

 

Where have you seen the biggest change within your organisation over the past five months?

We’ve seen a rapid and very successful switch to remote working for our office and contact-centre-based colleagues, and rapid adoption of cloud-based software and collaboration tools. The pandemic has accelerated a process which was already underway for us, but in common with businesses the world over, we have achieved in a matter of weeks a scale of change which would previously have taken years.

That said, it’s easy to focus on the technological changes we and others have seen – but it’s important to remember that every member of our organisation, whether office based or field based, has had to get to grips with a whole new way of working, at huge speed. It’s been really heartening to see how all our people, whether field-based or office-based, have embraced the challenge and delivered an uninterrupted service to our customers throughout the pandemic.

So for me, our people have stepped up in the way I would always have hoped they would, but our adoption of new technology has surpassed my expectations and opened the door to new and improved ways of working.

 

How has the current pandemic impacted your thinking around the future of utilities?

The pandemic has reinforced my view that meaningful collaboration between utilities, as well as with regulators and government, and across a wide range of sectors is key to delivering the sustainable future we all want to see. Unlocking that collaboration will speed up the delivery of the green recovery. It will enable us as a sector not simply to ‘build, build, build’, but to build back smarter, incorporating water and energy efficiency and implementing low carbon solutions to get us to net zero.

 

What would you like to see change within the utilities landscape over the coming years?

I’d like to see us capitalise on some of the positives from this most challenging of years. We’ve seen the pace of progress and the scale of collaboration escalate beyond what we would previously have thought possible. Let’s harness that energy to accelerate progress to net zero and resilience to climate change.

 

What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming Utility Week Build Back Better Forum?

I’m looking forward to having such a broad cross section of participants coming together to share ideas. With water and energy companies, regulators and government, investors and members of the wider supply chain all involved, the conference will offer a valuable opportunity to put our heads together and really focus on exactly what we need to do to build back better. My hope is that it will be a catalyst for tangible outcome and real action to accelerate green recovery.