Water sector group appoints corporate comms chief as new head
20 Nov 2019
Water UK has appointed a top utility industry corporate communications figure as its new chief executive at a time when the sector is fending off calls for greater public control.
Christine McGourty, who takes over the role on 16 December, has played a leading role in bodies including Centrica, British Gas and Energy UK, as well as FTSE-listed Laird plc.
Previously she was a print and media journalist for the BBC and Daily Telegraph.
With water companies coming under greater pressure over their operations and demands from the Labour Party and others for nationalisation, the sector is expecting to have to mount an increasingly public defence.
McGourty’s experience is likely to be crucial in framing a vision for the industry. Speaking on her appointment however, both she and Water UK chairman Sir Brian Bender, focused on the industry’s wider challenges.
The chairman commented: “We are delighted to get someone with Christine’s first-class experience in regulatory and policy issues both nationally and internationally, as well as her undoubted leadership abilities. She is exactly the right fit to take the trade body forward as we move into a new 5-year business period for the industry.
McGourty, who takes over from Michael Roberts, concentrated on a message likely to resonate with consumers.
“This is a fascinating time to be joining the water industry, with the sector playing an increasingly important role in combatting climate change, stepping up the fight on plastic waste, and making sure customers continue to get the world-class quality water they deserve at a price they can afford.
“The industry has set out an ambitious programme to increase investment, cut leakage and improve the environment, and I look forward to working with all of the water and wastewater companies to address the challenges ahead.”
Mindful of the political criticism of their role, water and sewerage firms agreed a public interest commitment earlier this year to enshrine what it means to operate in the public interest.