United Utilities graduates tackle key water sector issues through CEO Challenge 2023

GRADUATES at Warrington-based United Utilities have begun their endeavours for this year’s CEO Challenge, with the aim of tackling some of the water sector’s key issues.

The challenge gives five groups of graduates a problem each to investigate over the course of the year. Working with United Utilities colleagues and external partners, it encourages them to use their skills and learning to find and embed innovative solutions to challenges that are faced by the company and the wider industry.
The five challenges for 2023 are:
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?
Nicole Shaffi, Innovation Performance Manager at United Utilities, said: “Our annual CEO Challenge is a real highlight of the year for our graduates, giving them the chance to put their problem-solving skills to the test and then propose, develop and instigate new solutions to some of the issues we face.
“The challenges they’ve been tasked with this year, from reducing leaks and emissions, to enhancing energy resilience and network capacity, will give them the chance to use our established innovation process to seek out new methods and technologies, to build relationships and forge new partnerships, and put their education and experience into practice outside of their daily roles.
“Every year our graduates amaze us with their creative thinking, so we can’t wait to see the ideas they come up with and put them into use.”
The groups have already been getting their teeth – and brain cells – into the problems and will spend the coming weeks refining the issues, hosting initial brainstorming sessions, and meeting those who are already dealing with the challenges. They will go on to explore potential solutions to the problems and put their ideas to the test through practical trials, helping them to develop new processes and campaigns that will be put into use at United Utilities to bring benefits to customers and the company.
Teams are assessed throughout the year, and at the end of the challenge will present their work to a panel of senior leaders who will select the winning team based on which group has shown the most innovative behaviours.
“Everyone really is a winner at the end of the challenge,” Nicole continued.
“The graduates get a great deal of personal and professional development from the programme which will help them in their future careers. They are able to gain additional skills in a safe space which encourages them to fail in order to learn and grow, and also build new networks and relationships, including in areas they don’t normally work in.
“For United Utilities, the CEO Challenge brings a wealth of innovative new ideas, many of which become reality and help enhance our work to support a greener, stronger, healthier and fairer region as we provide great quality water and more.
“The challenge is not only about finding solutions to our problems – it also supports our efforts to inspire an innovative culture throughout the company so that we have the skills, behaviours and competencies needed to solve the problems that are still to come.”
To find out more about graduate roles at United Utilities, visit: www.unitedutilities.com/corporate/careers/graduates/

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