United Utilities graduates power up to win CEO Challenge

A team of graduates at United Utilities have powered their way to success in this year’s CEO Challenge with their innovative ways to enhance energy resilience.

The CEO Challenge is set by the Warrington-based water company every year, giving five groups of graduates a problem each to investigate and come up with solutions for. The teams work with colleagues and external partners over 10 months to develop and test their ideas, then make a final presentation to a panel of judges including United Utilities CEO Louise Beardmore.

The five challenges for 2023 were:

  • Team 1: Find and fix – How can we prioritise our collective efforts on leak reduction?
  • Team 2: Store more – How can we optimise our wastewater network capacity?
  • Team 3: The emission mission – How can we measure greenhouse gas emissions from a diverse supplier base?
  • Team 4: Keep the lights on – How can we make our sites more energy resilient?
  • Team 5: Happy homes – How can we influence house builders to change their home design with water in mind?

Team 4 energy resilience CEO Challenge winners 2023.jpgThe victors were team 4, with judges noting the way they considered the challenge in relation to the company’s environmental performance.

Melissa Kangur, on the Future Leaders graduate programme with United Utilities, was a member of the winning team. She said: “It’s been a really fantastic experience, giving us the opportunity to work with people in other business areas and find creative ways to make a difference.

“To have this chance to test new ideas and implement new processes is not something you get every day, so it’s great that United Utilities encourages this through the CEO Challenge. We’ve all been able to enhance our skills during the challenge, including teamwork, project management and communications, and all those things serve us in our daily roles as well.

“I’d encourage anyone leaving university to consider a career at United Utilities. There are plenty of challenges to get stuck into, and you’ll learn loads and work with some brilliant people. Just go for it!”

Louise Beardmore, CEO of United Utilities, commented: “The winning team really impressed the judges by showing how their ideas to improve energy resilience would make a positive impact across United Utilities, including in our priority area of reducing the use of storm overflows. Their engagement with colleagues across the business, and the passion they showed, really shone through.

“All the graduates brought their best to the challenge, while also giving their all in their daily roles, and they should be so proud of themselves. Their innovative thinking and dedication will make a difference to customers, communities, and the environment.”

Awards were also given for:

  • Deliver Great Service Award - Team 4
  • Improve Our Rivers Award – Team 2
  • Contribute to Our Communities Award – Team 5
  • Spend Customers’ Money Wisely Award – Team 1
  • Create a Greener Future Award – Team 3

Graduate roles at United Utilities to start in September 2024 are now open for applications. For full details, visit: www.unitedutilities.com/corporate/careers/graduates/