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Kennedy Announces Appointments to the Board of NI Water

17 August 2011 12:26

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy today announced the appointment and re-appointment of non-executive directors to the Board of NI Water.

Following the completion of the appointments process the Minister announced three new non-executive directors, John Rae, Deep Sagar and Jim Stewart, CBE. In addition Kevin Steele, who has served as an interim non-executive director, will be appointed for a full term and Donald Price has been re-appointed for a further term.

The Minister said: "The appointment and re-appointment of these non-executive directors will bring a wealth of experience to the Board of NI Water.

"In coming to my decision I sought to appoint people with the best mix of knowledge, skills , expertise and specific water industry and regulatory experience to take on the vital role of non-executive director, acting in the best interest of the organisation and indeed the public who rely so much on its services. This is all the more important at a time when NI Water is undergoing transformational change and seeking to enhance its governance arrangements."

Danny Kennedy added: "The competition to appoint the new Board members attracted a wide range of highly skilled candidates and I am grateful to all of those who expressed an interest.

"These appointments come at a critical time for the organisation. I expect the new Board to exercise independent judgement on issues of strategy, performance, governance, executive appointments and to play a key role in holding the company’s executive team to account. The Board will provide constructive input to the development of strategic objectives and policies while ensuring that the business operates efficiently and effectively with continued focus on improving customer care and service delivery."

Referring to the outgoing interim non-executive directors, the Minister said: "I want to pay tribute to the contribution of the outgoing non-executive directors, Peter Bunting and Lawson McDonald who agreed to take on their respective roles during a particularly uncertain and challenging time for the company. I commend them for their dedication and commitment during the last 12 months."

Notes to Editors:

- NI Water (formerly Water Service) is the sole provider of water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland, with almost 800,000 domestic, agricultural, commercial and business customers.

- John Rae, Deep Sagar, Kevin Steele and Jim Stewart, CBE have been appointed by the Minister as non-executive directors of the Board of NI Water through a Public Appointments process ran in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland (CPA NI) Code of Practice.

- Sean Hogan was appointed to the Board of NI Water in March 2011 to enable him to participate in the process for the appointment of the remainder of the non-executive directors.

- There will now be a total of six non-executive Directors on the Board of NI Water, including the Chair. The new members will take up their appointments immediately and join their Board colleagues for their first meeting in September.

- The non-executive directors will be paid £18,000 per annum on the basis of 2 days per month, but any days worked in addition to this estimate will be remunerated at £750 per day subject to a maximum of 4 additional days (unless otherwise approved by the Department).

-Four of the NI Water Executives are Board members. They are:

Trevor Haslett (Acting Chief Executive),
Ronan Larkin, Director of Finance and Regulation,
Sara Venning, Director of Customer Service and Delivery; and
George Butler, Director of Asset Management.

- The non-Executive appointments have been made on merit and political activity played no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for the political activity of appointees (if any is declared) to be published.

John Rae considerable water industry experience, both as an executive and non executive, spanning more than 20 years. He began his career as an engineer with Strathclyde Water in 1980 and rose through the ranks to take up a Divisional Manager position with West of Scotland Water in the mid-90s and by 2002 had been appointed as Assets Director. Since then, he has held a number of senior positions with Scottish Water, resulting with his latest appointment as Water Operations Director. In 2009 he became a Board Member of Scottish Water Solutions which delivers Scottish Water’s capital programme spend of around £400-£500m annually. Mr Rae has also held several non executive Board positions since 2000. He joined the Board of United Kingdom Water Industry Research Ltd (UKWIR) resigning from this position in 2008 when he took up a non-executive position with the Water Regulations Advisory Service Ltd (WRAS). He has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.

Deep Sagar combines non-executive work with management consultancy. His career was predominantly with multinationals including Coca-Cola and Unilever Bestfoods as a senior manager. Mr Sagar’s present roles include Chair of the Leasehold Advisory Service and of Flood Risk Management Wales. He has had exposure to regulated water utilities outside Northern Ireland as well. Mr Sagar's experience as a senior manager and corporate governance leader, and his commercial, economics and regulatory background should prove beneficial to NI Water. He has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.

Kevin Steele possesses substantial relevant utility sector and governance experience including in the public sector. He was a partner with Deloitte for 22 years and in 1990, he was seconded by Deloitte to Northern Ireland Electricity as Director of Finance, in advance of the privatisation of the business. Having gained this sector experience he then worked for a number of utility organisations on a variety of assignments, in the Republic of Ireland and GB. From 1997 he was lead Consulting Partner to the Isle of Man government working for a number of its Departments. In 2005/06 he carried out a re-financing and governance assignment in the utilities sector on behalf of the Isle of Man Treasury. In 2006 he was appointed Independent Board Member (IBM) with the Department of Education (DE) for an initial 2 year period, which has been extended to 2011. He is also Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee of the Department; the terms of reference of which are based on HMT and NAO best practice. The Committee advises the DE Board and the Accounting Officer, on a range of matters including, the effectiveness of processes to control risk, governance requirements across DE and departmental NDPBs and the activities and outcomes of both internal and external audit. Finally, Mr Steele was appointed as an interim non executive director of NI Water in June 2010 and has chaired the newly formed Procurement Committee since September 2010 and is a member of the Audit Committee. He has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.

Mr Stewart has more than 15 years Board level experience in a number of organisations. He currently holds the position of Chair of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority, however this appointment will expire in September 2011 as well as Chairman of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust until July 2014. He is a former non-executive director of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board and completed a term as Chair of Greenpark Health and Social Services Trust in Belfast. He is currently Managing Director of Training Solutions (NI) Ltd which provides training and development for both Public and private sector organisations. He has served on the boards of LEDU, AFBI, the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Quality Centre. Mr Stewart is also Chairman of Sentinus, a registered charity promoting training in science, engineering and maths in schools in Northern Ireland. His work experience also includes the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company; he was a HR Manager in Craigavon and South Africa and has been a Factory Manager in Greece, Italy and Turkey; he has international business experience as well as extensive public sector experience. His qualifications include an M.A. in Strategic Management and a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry. Mr Stewart was awarded a CBE in 2009 for his Contribution to the Ports Industry in Northern Ireland. He has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.

Donald is a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Board Director of the Northern Bank. A former Managing Director of NIR and the Belfast Telegraph, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers and a member of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. He has served on the Board of NI Water since July 2008 and is currently Chair of the Audit Committee. He has not engaged in any political activity in the last five years.

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