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09 March 22

How a graduate trainee at Affinity Water, climbed the career ladder to the boardroom

  • Anton Gazzard, Director of Customer Delivery, tells his story
  • “I fell in love with Ops” and the mix of shirt and tie and hard hat and high-vis
  • Emergency responses “bring out the best in the team”
  • I met my wife Vic here

In support of National Careers Week Affinity Water’s #podcast series continues to highlight how its managers have climbed to the top of their profession.

When aged 20 Anton Gazzard went for a job interview for a place on Affinity Water’s General Business Graduate Scheme, he admits he was “nervous”, and it was an “all-nighter”. He hardly slept the night before, but he ensured he “dressed smartly”.

A Business Management graduate from Exeter University he was used to tests but when he walked into the Assessment Centre to sit an hours-worth of psychometric testing he didn’t bargain for the buzzing noise a wasp made. He admits: “It made me flap and panic as this wasp seemed to take a liking to me”.

As he got back home, he pulled into the drive and received a phone call to say he’d been accepted onto the scheme. He walked into the kitchen and told his Mother he’d been successful and that: “I got the job”.

Affinity Water is the largest water only company in the UK providing 3.6 million customers across the SE of England with high quality water and working to improve and protect the environment.

Now in his new role as Director of Customer Delivery at Affinity Water Anton could be sitting in a Boardroom meeting in the Company’s Hatfield Office one moment and out attending an inspection or emergency repair somewhere in the region with his hard hat and high-vis jacket on.

He explains: “Being the Director of Water Supply of a Water Company, I play a really critical role sitting at the top table with the Executive Team.

“Our teams are responsible for the water supply to our customers, source to tap. From the abstraction and treatment through to the operation of the network and community based customer service. We have teams that work around clock and a 24/7 Control Room that coordinates the overall operation of our assets.”

Overseeing national infrastructure involves a great deal of responsibility but as Trainee he worked his way up the career ladder working in different roles across the business. In his first two years he worked with teams such as Human Resources, External Communications and Customer Relations. Then followed a further 18 months in Project Management for what is now the Asset Delivery Team where he got out of the office to work on small booster pump installations and mains diversions. He went from there to become a Client Project Manager, working with outside contractors.

One of his most exciting roles followed, when he became Affinity Water’s Project Manager for the Olympic Games 2012 in charge of events such as cycling, rowing and the Wembley Stadium itself which fell within the Water Company’s area. He explains: “I had to ensure we were prepared and resilient for anything that might happen or impact our reputation at the Olympics.”

As Chairman of the SE Branch of the Pipeline Industries Guild he teamed up with a colleague who chaired the organisation nationally and at a dinner he heard of a role in the Ops team. He then became a regional Ops manager in the Southern region looking after customer service and leakage technicians. “That’s where I fell in love with a regional Ops managers role,” he said.

Anton then answered some quick-fire questions:

  • Worst moment: “A burst water main in Egham when in my first Bronze Controller role I ordered a £50k fitting which was made to a bespoke order, but I had to admit to my boss that it didn’t fit!”
  • Best moment: “Meeting my wife Vic who was a fellow business grad here and seeing people progress up the career ladder and realising their potential.”
  • Challenging moment: “Getting people to sign up to the stand-by rota where we deal with emergencies 24/7. But this is when we as a team, work across the business and we are at our best! We do a great job.”

Anton ended the #podcast by advising others to consider a career in water: “I’ve been really blessed throughout my time here. The Business will always make great opportunities for you, they want you to succeed as much as you do. I would highly recommend a career here and in the industry. “

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