Belfast Telegraph

Impact of disruption a key topic at industry event hosted by NI Water

Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast
NI Water chief executive Sara Venning
Former Harland & Wolff chief executive Sir John Parker
Leo Johnson of PwC
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Around 200 people are expected to attend a major water industry event hosted by NI Water this week.

Former Harland & Wolff chief executive Sir John Parker, and disruption expert Leo Johnson, brother of Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson, will be among the speakers at the Titanic Belfast event on Thursday and Friday.

The Institute of Water conference has been held in Belfast before but this year is the first time it's been hosted by NI Water, as chief executive Sara Venning is the institute's next president.

A spokesman for NI Water said the company would also use the event "to showcase Belfast as a region and our supply chain as a talent pool".

And the event would also call on the industry to consider the impact of disruption from other areas such as the environment and the changing face of the workplace.

NI Water said: "In her conference opening speech, Sara will also point to the fact that our industry has long supported economic development, pointing to the foresight of the water commissioners in the 1900s bringing water from Mourne Mountains to Belfast via infrastructure that is still in use today.

"She'll highlight that disruption is not a new phenomenon - environmental legislation disrupted (and rightly so) the practice of disposing of sewage at sea via an effluent tanker."

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Douglas Tait, president and chief executive of Fujitsu in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, will also discuss the opportunities arising from disruption from digital technology.

Leo Johnson, who will speak at the event on Thursday, leads business advisory firm PwC's disruption practice and is co-presenter of the Radio 4 series FutureProofing. He is the co-founder of the advisory firm Sustainable Finance, now part of PwC.

Sir John Parker, who also addresses the event on Thursday, was born in Co Down. He studied Naval Architecture and Mechanical Engineering at the Belfast College of Technology and Queen's University.

He joined Harland & Wolff as an apprentice aged 16 and later served as its chairman and CEO, leading the yard's absorption into the private sector. In total, Sir John has served as chief executive, chairman or non-executive director in over 20 companies.

He worked for Austin & Pickersgill in Sunderland, as well as chairing mining giant Anglo American for eight years. He spent 11 years as a director of Airbus, and is now chairman of Pennon Group plc and Laing O'Rourke.

Belfast Telegraph