Top 25 Leaders

Jan. 1, 2016
Now in its second year, WWi's Top 25 Leaders Listing goes from strength to strength. The start of 2016 brings a time for celebration: celebrating the best of the best, global thought leaders in the water/wastewater industries.

Now in its second year, WWi’s Top 25 Leaders Listing goes from strength to strength. The start of 2016 brings a time for celebration: celebrating the best of the best, global thought leaders in the water/wastewater industries. Engineers, consultants, academics and utilities all have an important role to play in delivering crucial water services. We start by looking at the top 24 before an interview with the overall winner.

25 Alan Thomson, managing director, Abu Dhabi Sewerage and Services Company (ADSSC), UK

After a busy career in UK utilities, Thomson relocated to Abu Dhabi in 2005 to head up ADSSC. He has overseen the development of the Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Programme (STEP) - a multi-billion dirham programme that will be one of the largest tunnelled sewerage systems in the world, with a planned working life of at least 80 years. Previous to ADSSC, he was regional director of Mouchel Parkman and director of customer networks at Scottish Water. He also helped to raise £150,000 as chair of West of Scotland committee for charity, WaterAid.

24 Mamadou Dia, president of Aquafed, head of water and sanitation, Eranove and former CEO of Sénégalaise Des Eaux (SDE), Senegal

A hydraulic engineer since 1977, Dia’s career began in the national water supply company, SONEES. He joined SDE in 1977 and held several management positions from operations director to deputy chief executive office until he was appointed CEO in 2006. Former president of the African Water Association, he has been a leading figure in the water society of Africa. In 2014, Dia was elected as president of AquaFed, the International Federation of Private Water Operators.

23 Professor Dragan Savic, professor of hydroinformatics, Exeter University

Professor Savic is the UK’s first professor of Hydroinformatics. He has lectured extensively throughout the UK and abroad and is currently a visiting professor at the Universities of Bari (Italy) and Belgrade (Serbia), UNESCO-IHE (Delft, The Netherlands) and Harbin Institute of Technology (Harbin, China). A chartered civil and water engineer with over 30 years experience in research, teaching and consulting, he is a founder and co-director of the Centre for Water Systems.

22 Neil Macleod, Former CEO, eThekwini Municipality, South Africa

Macleod demonstrated how to turn a struggling utility into a profitable business. Since 2000, he oversaw eThekwini Water & Sanitation to connect 1.3 million people to piped drinking water while helping to generate $520 million per year. This is as well as connecting over 700,000 citizens to wastewater services. Winner of the 2014 Stockholm Industry Award, he was credited with helping eThekwini to serve as a “sterling example for the many communities worldwide facing similar challenges”. Not content with fully retiring, Macleod is now travelling the world to promote driving down water losses.

21 Dr William Muhairwe, senior team leader, 2ml Consulting (Former CEO, Ugandan National Water & Sewerage Corporation - NWSC), Africa

Muhairwe is currently a team leader for a Water Reform project in Ghana and Nigeria, sponsored by the World Bank and USAID. In 1988 he took over the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) Uganda as managing director - a state organisation that was almost collapsing due to mismanagement. He was then responsible for one of the African water industry’s greatest success stories: he grew NWSC to become one of the most successful and profitable utilities in Africa.

20 Dr Adil Bushnak, CEO, Bushnak Group, Saudi Arabia

Dr Bushnak helped establish the International Desalination Association (IDA) and led the private Saudi effort to commercialise the use of direct seawater for irrigation to produce food crops. He has played a key role in promoting water desalination technologies such as reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration and membrane filtration for seawater desalination, helping the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) become the largest desalination country worldwide. He is chairman of Bushnak Group headquartered in the KSA, which has several companies active in water, environment and energy services.

19 Professor Charles P. Gerba, University of Arizona, US

An American microbiologist, Charles Gerba is the renowned microorganism expert in water-borne pathogens, including international research and projects. He was on the committee that prepared the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guide Standard in 1987, which has become the “gold standard” for microorganism inactivation technologies. His lab tests many commercial technologies for both microorganism inactivation and biofilm removal.

18 Dr Boris Liberman, Chief Technology Officer, IDE Technologies, Israel

Active in the field of desalination for 20 years, Dr Liberman developed the Pressure Centre desalination concept, Direct Osmosis Cleaning, 16” membrane arrangement in a vertical position and has overseen some of the largest projects in the world. He has pending applications in reverse osmosis for power generation. A graduate of the Institute for Scientific Research in Water Supply, Moscow, he holds several granted patents in the field of reverse osmosis desalination.

17 Amanda Brock, CEO, Water Standard, US

Amanda Brock has been recognised as a strategic thought leader in the global water industry for over two decades. As CEO and co-founder of Water Standard, Brock and her team pioneered desalination and related water treatment methods for water-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and in 2009 was honored with the Desalination Deal of the Year award from GWI. Brock is regularly invited to speak at global conferences and advises private equity investors in water-related matters. She is on the Advisory Board of the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and the Harte Research Institute of Gulf of Mexico Studies.

16 Harry Seah, Chief Technology Officer, PUB, Singapore’s national water agency

Harry Seah serves as the chief technology officer of PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, directing and overseeing all its research and technology initiatives and programmes. Since 1998, he has led the programme for NEWater, Singapore’s very own brand of ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water. Seah was also involved in the implementation of the Membrane Bioreactor technology and the Variable Salinity Plant in Singapore after their successful pilot testing. He has been a long-standing pioneer of innovative technologies and had a huge influence in promoting technologies on a country-wide scale.

15 Dr Andrew Benedek, CEO, Anaergia, Hungary

A leading authority on global water issues, Dr Benedek founded Zenon Environmental in 1980, growing the business to become a leader in membrane treatment before being sold to GE. With over 30 years experience in wastewater treatment, he won the Stockholm Water Industry award in 2003 and the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize in 2008. Chairman and CEO for Anaergia, Dr Benedek graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and PhD from the University of Washington.

14 Boris Lesjean, R&D Program Manager, Berlin Centre of Competence for Water, Germany

A well-respected researcher in Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology, Lesjean has been working since 1997 in R&D related to urban water management. For the past 10 years he has been with the Berlin Centre of Competence for Water, where he initiated, developed and coordinated applied research and development projects, with a focus on membrane technologies. He has coordinated several European projects, including the FP6 project “AMEDEUS”, dedicated to the development of membrane-activated sludge processes. Since 2006 he has been developing the MBR-Network.

13 Dr Fraser MacLeod, Executive Director, World Water Council, France

With more than 20 years of experience in sustainability, natural resources science and policy, Dr MacLeod was executive director with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority where he led the technical development of a major reform of river basin planning. At the Global Water Partnership he led global initiatives including the Global Dialogue on Water Security and Sustainable Growth. Now leading the Secretariat of the World Water Council he is a key figure in raising the political profile of water including through the development and growth of the World Water Forum.

12 Booky Oren, Chairman & CEO, Booky Oren Water Technologies, Israel

Oren can be attributed with leading Israel’s water industry as a formative figure over the last 30 years. In 2003, he was appointed as executive chairman of Israel National Water Company. Oren Initiated and implemented WaTech - leveraging the 3,000 Mekorot facilities as beta sites for external innovation. He co-founded and was former president, CEO and later chairman of Miya Water. He was also chairman of WATEC Israel in 2007, 2009 and 2011, helping to grow the event to attract 28,000 participants from 104 countries. Forming his own company in 2011, he now operates the “Global Water Partnership Hub”.

11 Professor Tony Fane, Director, Singapore Membrane Technology Centre, Singapore

A chemical engineer with a PhD from Imperial College in London, Professor Fane has developed membrane theory and application since 1973 when he joined the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He is a former director of the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology and the director of the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. SMTC has a group of over 80 researchers dedicated to applied research into membranes for the water cycle.

10 Dr James Barnard, Global Practice and Technology Leader, Black & Veatch, South Africa

Winner of the 2011 Lee Kuan Yew Prize in Singapore for “revolutionising used water treatment”, technologist Dr James Barnard was recognised for his groundbreaking invention of Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) technology. Internationally recognised as the “Father of BNR”, Dr Barnard began exploring the possibility of removing phosphorus and nitrogen from used water when faced with water quality challenges in his native South Africa and arid Namibia in the 1970s.

9 Dr Peter Gleick, president and co-founder, Pacific Institute, US

Dr. Gleick’s work has redefined water from the realm of engineers to the world of social justice, sustainability, human rights and integrated thinking. The American scientist is renowned around the world as a leading expert, innovator and communicator on water and climate issues. He has authored 11 books, including the influential series - The World’s Water. Dr Gleick received the prestigious MacArthur “genius” Fellowship and was named a “visionary on the environment” by the BBC. He is also an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

8 Allan Lambert, Managing Director, Water Loss Research & Analysis, UK

With 53 years in water resources, water utilities and international consultancy, Lambert is widely recognised as a global expert on leakage reduction/management. A past president of the British Hydrological Society, and chair of the 1st IWA Water Losses Task Force 1995/99, he was appointed an IWA Fellow in 2011 in “recognition of his extraordinary achievements”. His role as mentor to many is now being extended through his free-to-all LEAKSSuite website which provides information on concepts, technical papers, software, guidance, blogs and stimulation to ten thousand users in 160 countries.

7 Professor Simon Judd, Maersk Oil Professorial Chair in Environmental Engineering, Qatar University, Qatar, and Professor of Membrane Technology, Cranfield University, UK

Professor Judd lectures at Cranfield University in the UK and Qatar University in the Middle East. He has 23 years’ experience of teaching and research project management in water and wastewater technologies. As an authority on membrane bioreactors, he is the author of The MBR Book and Watermaths. He has further authored/co-authored over 160 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals, and also writes a blog (The MBR Blog). He has secured and managed over 15 large research projects for UK and overseas water utility and technology suppliers, and/or national/international funding bodies (UKRC, EU, QNRF, etc).

6 Kazuo Yamamoto, Professor, University of Tokyo, Japan, Vice President of Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and President, Water Reuse Promotion Centre, Japan

Yamamoto was the inventor of the submerged membrane bioreactor concept in 1986 and led research and development into membranes for advanced water treatment and reclamation. He received the Sidney Loeb Award from the European Desalination Society for invention of the submerged membrane bioreactor concept. He graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tokyo in 1977.

5 Lisa Henthorne, past president, International Desalination Association (IDA), US

Holding three patents in water treatment, Henthorne has more than 25 years of experience in the desalination and water treatment industry. The first female president of the International Desalination Association from 2007-2009, while heading the desalination business for CH2M Hill, she acted as technical advisor on many challenging projects in the Middle East, Australia, US and Asia. She is currently the chief technology officer for Water Standard. Henthorne graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a Masters of Science in Chemical Engineering and Missouri State University with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry.

4 Olivia Lum, CEO, Hyflux, Singapore

It was in 1989 when Olivia Lum left her corporate life as a chemist with Glaxo Pharmaceutical to start up Hydrochem, the precursor to Hyflux. Managing the group for over 25 years, she has helped Hyflux expand into an international business, winning major projects in Singapore and overseas in Algeria and Oman. Most recently she is overseeing the group diversification into bottled water and solid waste markets. A true entrepreneur, Lum won the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth 2006 and the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year 2011. She holds an Honours degree in Chemistry from the National University of Singapore.

3 Professor Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore and Co-Founder, Third World Centre for Water Management, Mexico

Acknowledged universally as one of the world’s leading authorities on water management, Professor Asit K. Biswas has been a senior advisor to 19 governments, six heads of the United Agencies and secretary general of OECD. Professor Biswas also advises four multinational companies in the top 50 of the Fortune 500 companies. He is a past president of the International Water Resources Association and co-founded the World Water Council. Author of over 80 books, his work has been translated into 37 languages.

2 Professor Mark van Loosdrecht, professor of environmental biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Mark van Loosdrecht was one of four Dutch top scientists to win the 2014 NWO Spinoza Prize for his research on the cultivation of bacteria, such as for the biological treatment of wastewater. Known to have contributed to the development of Anammox technology for the removal of nitrogen, he has led the fundamental research and development of aerobic granular sludge that is used in the space and energy efficient Nereda wastewater treatment technology. There are now more than 30 full-scale variant plants in operation around the world. In 2012 he won the Singapore Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize.

40 [Years] Not Out

Votes have been counted and the final results are in. The winner of this year’s WWi Top 25 Leaders Listing is the immediate past president of the IWA and former chief technology officer at CH2M, Glen Daigger. With four decades of experience in the global sector, he has witnessed a shift in how water is treated and respected. Here he shares highlights from his career and thoughts on leadership.

New challenges: after four decades in the water industry Daigger is now working at the University of Michigan and also developed One Water Solutions.

Water & Wastewater International magazine (WWi): Firstly, congratulations on winning this year’s WWi Top 25 Leaders listing! Am I correct in saying you’ve been involved in the global water industry for 40 years?

Glen Daigger (GD): Yes sir. I enjoy working with young water professionals. The definition of a young water professional is under the age of 35. So I’ve been working in this profession longer than these folks have been alive!

WWi: Ha! That really gives some perspective. Four decades is a long time but what would you say has been your career highlight, if you can pinpoint just one?

GD: Well the direct answer to that is no. Since you insist, one of the really great highlights was the time as the president o f the International Water Association. It really provided an opportunity to interact with such a wide range of folks and learn so much. One of the great things about the water profession is you can learn something every day. It’s a great place for intellectually curious people.

WWi: We often see technologies that spring up and are called “innovative” or “disruptive”. Which technologies have come up over your 40 year career that have really made a difference?

GD: I can think about three that have really stood the test of time and have really been transformational. The first one that comes to mind is biological nutrient removal, both nitrogen and phosphorus.

Over 40 years, it’s a time when biological nutrient technologies were first observed and first began to be implemented in full scale systems and have become the norm. Secondly are a suite of technologies that allow us to take essentially water of any quality and turn it into potable water or even better. That’s something that’s transformational.

On the solids side over my career, a technology that was disfavoured but has come back is anaerobic digestion. It used to be the core - when you go back several decades - of solids processing but fell out of favour. Now it’s become the core of solids processing, bioenergy production and resource recovery from the used water stream.

WWi: So you’ve witnessed a shift from a disposal culture to a resource reclamation culture when it comes to wastewater processing?

GD: Absolutely. We have the technology to do so much; more than we actually accomplish today and that creates tremendous opportunities. Again we need to be looking not only at what we can do but where we should be doing it and how we should be doing it. We need to be bolder in terms of what we can actually do and how we can contribute to society on a broader basis.

WWi: You’re known for talking about the new paradigm in urban water treatment. What does this mean and how have you influenced this over your career?

GD: The paradigm is this: first of all, water demand is increasing, both because of population and economic growth. The projections are that by 2050 the demand is going to increase by 50% but essentially all of our existing resources are being utilised. The only way we’re going to meet this demand is through increased efficiency: through better rainwater capture, reuse and then selectively through desalination. What this means is from a water management perspective we need to integrate and look at water as one water and look at being more efficient and using water multiple times.

Networking: Daigger says his role as president of the International Water Association was one of his career highlights, allowing him to meet a wide range of industry professionals

The second component is that, compared to the past, we are moving to a resource constrained planet, and there are resources in the urban water cycle. Historically, we’ve looked at being capital efficient in terms of water management. The objective function now is resource efficiency: how we minimise the net amount of energy that we use, how we can extract nutrients and so forth.

My advice to folks would be don’t be constrained only by what we can do today. We’re pretty smart: if we can see what needs to be done and we can see that there’s fundamental science that will allow it, then we can figure out how to do it. We need that future thinking. If we’re not thinking ahead we’re getting behind as we manage water.

WWi: The WWi Top 25 series celebrates leadership and the best of the best from around the world. What do you think it takes to be a successful leader in the global water industry?

GD: It starts with vision: a vision of how the world can be a better place and how things can be changed to meet that better future. It needs to be matched up with pragmatic steps and then to start moving in that direction. I tell people that a water person has to live in the “virtual reality” of the imagination. We need to be imagining the future because the things we are doing today are shaping the future.

One person cannot do this by themselves. It’s about enlisting others and helping them to see what they can do each and every day to move towards that vision. And finally persistence: never give up. We’re never done in water - the challenges of 2050 will be there just as the challenges of 2015 are here today.

WWi: And finally, is it finally time to leave the world of wastewater behind and fully retire? Being such an active individual I’m sure you’re not the type to sit back and retire quietly on a golf course all day. So how will you be continuing your role in the industry?

GD: As I tell people: retirement is someone else’s word, not my word. My perspective is that I’ve moved on to the next phase of my career. This summer I joined the University of Michigan as Professor of Engineering Practice; a role which fits me to a T. I describe it as bringing more of the outside world into the university and also helping to bring the university more into the outside world.

I developed One Water Solutions to continue to work alongside my role in the University. I look to continue for at least for the next 15 to 20 years to basically continue doing the things I’ve been doing throughout my caree.

WWi: And then in 10 years we can talk about your 50 years in the water industry? Not many others can make that claim!

GD: [Laughs] I’ve certainly been a lucky person, one that, when you come to work, it’s what you would have done anyway. That’s been my experience throughout my career and it continues to be. I enjoy every day that I’ve put into this profession and I intend to continue that for the foreseeable future.

WWi: Glenn - we wish you the best of luck continuing to inspire leaders of the future. Again congratulations on taking the top spot in the WWi Top 25 Leader series.

Bio Box - Glenn Daigger

With 41 years of experience, Dr Daigger specialises in biological wastewater treatment, treatment process design and water management. His nine patents for wastewater treatment have helped establish the nation’s wastewater treatment standards in the US. As author or co-author of more than 100 technical papers,, four books and several technical manuals, he has contributed to advancing practice within the wastewater profession. He is CH2M HILL’s first Technical Fellow, an honor recognising the leadership that he provides in developing and implementing new wastewater treatment technology. He holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering, an M.S. in civil engineering, and a B.S. in civil engineering from Purdue University. He is currently the president of consultancy One Water Solutions recently appointed professor of engineering practise at the University of Michigan.

We would also like to thank our sponsor - Evoqua Water Technologies - for their full support on this initiative. A word from the company’s CEO can be seen below.

Data on Voters

This year we thought it would be interesting to compare data on the Top 25. As you can see, our listing included a healthy mix of consultants, utilities, EPC providers and academics - all playing a key role in the global industry.

Demographic data on WWi magazine readers who voted to decide the Top 25.

Methodology: Choosing the Top 25

We approached this year’s Top 25 listing from a different angle. To widen the field (after all, it’s almost impossible to fully credit or do justice to the thousands of leaders in the water industry in a single listing), we asked our committee of industry experts to recommend who they thought deserved to be on a “master list”. We then asked WWi readers to vote on this list, with the results whittling the number down to 25. We would like to thank the following individuals for their help on the committee:

  • Jean-Michel Herrewyn, CEO, Veolia Water
  • David Lloyd Owen, managing director, Envisager
  • Yeo Sheng Wei, assistant director, PUB (Singapore)
  • Jim Southworth, CEO, Jim Southworth Consulting
  • Prof Asit Biswas, co-founder, Third World Centre for Water Management
  • Ann Seamonds, president, Seamonds & Company
  • Patricia Burke, director general, IDA (International Desalination Association)
  • Dr Graeme Pearce, principal, Membrane Consultancy Associates
  • Angela Godwin, chief editor, WaterWorld magazine
  • Peter Cartwright, president, Cartwright Consulting.

A Word from the Sponsor

Transforming water and enriching life. At our core that is what we do every day around the world for municipalities and industrial customers. It’s why we make it so prominent in the Evoqua story. The members of the Top 25 share the same tenets as we do - improve, protect and enable the world’s most fundamental natural resource: water. For today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

All of us in the water industry have a long heritage that we need to continue to share, and ensure we enrich life in the future. More than 100 years ago, two gentleman shared that same concept and developed a process to disinfect drinking water with chlorination and filtration. Life Magazine later cited their invention as “probably the most significant public health advancement of the millennium” for helping to save countless lives. The inventions of those two men - Wallace & Tiernan - are still being used, updated and improving life around the world today as part of Evoqua. We like to think of them as the inaugural members of the Top 25.

Like those legends, the most important traits of a leader is their ability to ensure we are pushing the limits, preparing for the future and instilling in the next generation the same principles so that the foundation is set when we pass the baton. It is a core part of what we do for our customers at Evoqua.

All of the Top 25 members are leaders similar to Wallace & Tiernan in that their work is enduring. That is why Evoqua is proud to be the presenting sponsor of this group of leaders.

On behalf of our more than 4,000 employees across the world, congratulations to this year’s members and thank you for working together in our shared goals.

Ron Keating, chief executive officer, Evoqua Water Technologies

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