Director of Asset Strategy & Capital Delivery

The Client

Affinity Water are the largest water-only supplier in the UK providing on average 950 million litres of water each day to a population of more than 3.6 million people.

The business is extremely people orientated with their continual vision to be the UK’s leading community focused water company. Reflecting the importance, they place on the people working within the business and the customers they serve.

The Brief

Affinity Water approached Newsom Consulting to carry out an executive search to secure a Director of Asset Strategy & Capital Delivery. The role plays an integral part in delivering its world class vision and needed to work closely with colleagues within the business and the wider community.

This is a key leadership role in the organisation and so it was important to work closely with Affinity Water to understand their business culture, their objectives and the type of individuals that would be successful within that environment.

As the successful candidate would ultimately be responsible for over 200 direct reports, and for designing and delivering the long-term asset management strategy, the Director of Asset Strategy & Capital Delivery needed to have very specific experience and qualifications. They would need to demonstrate their ability to influence, lead and build trust.

The Process

With water companies being extremely location bound, the search could not be limited to the water sector alone. After discussions with Affinity Water, it was agreed that in order to succeed in this role, the candidate would need a deep understanding of regulated infrastructure.

This meant that the research was focused across water companies as well as other regulated infrastructure sectors including energy, gas, airports, and rail. Similarly, we searched for candidates who were employed within consultancies and contractors who may have had previous experience working in relevant senior management roles for infrastructure asset owners.

The search began by networking our contact base for referrals and searching through our extensive internal database to find candidates familiar to us. We then conducted online research to identify potential candidates in companies from our target list, compiled to suit the requirements of the briefing. Throughout the research processes, Richard Dobbs – who led on this assignment – attended several relevant conferences and events in order to widen his network in this area.

After receiving feedback on our longlist research, candidates were confidentially approached. Many candidates were interested in the role and were attracted to the level of responsibility and the opportunity to work with such a well-regarded business.

The main challenge faced during the process was finding suitable candidates that were within commuting distance of Affinity Water’s HQ in Hertfordshire or who were willing to relocate for the role. Consequently, our search was primarily focused to the South of England.

It also became apparent during the search that a number of other water companies were also recruiting, some of whom were larger companies than Affinity Water; meaning we were competing with others for the most experienced and qualified Directors.

Using a competency-based interview process, Newsom Consulting interviewed several fantastic candidates and then presented a recommended shortlist to Affinity Water.

The Outcome

From a longlist of 65 we presented a shortlist of 5 candidates who then interviewed with Affinity Water. The successful candidate had c20 years’ experience in the water and infrastructure sector. With a background developing commercial, operational and asset management strategies, the chosen candidate was an excellent fit with our client and has transitioned well into their new role.