Board of Directors

Sara Venning

Chief Executive Officer, Northern Ireland Water

Sara started her career as an electrical engineer with the local electricity utility, Northern Ireland Electricity. Over a 14 year period with the company Sara held a number of positions, latterly as Customer Operations Manager with responsibility for delivery of customer connections to the electricity distribution network. She is a qualified black belt six sigma practitioner and has a passion for efficiency and customer service improvement initiatives.

Sara joined Northern Ireland (NI) Water in April 2010 as Director of Customer Service Delivery with responsibility for water production and distribution, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment together with all aspects of service to customers, including billing and customer contact handling. In September 2013, Sara was appointed Interim CEO and was appointed CEO from 1 April 2014.

Bob Taylor

Vice President
Chief Executive Officer, Portsmouth Water

Bob is a Chartered Civil Engineer (CEng, FICE) with a BSc in Civil Engineering, an MSc in Environmental Engineering and an MBA. Bob has worked in the water industry for more than 35 years and has spent time in Australia, India, United Arab Emirates and Central and Eastern Asia.

Since 2013 Bob has worked in the UK, first as Director of Operations, then MD at Bournemouth Water, before joining Pennon Group where he was appointed Operations Director, Drinking Water Services. He joined Portsmouth Water as Engineering Director in Nov 2018 and took up the role of CEO in January 2019.

Steve Youell

Head of Emergency Planning & Security, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Steve has worked in the water industry for 20 years, originally joining Portsmouth Water as a Laboratory Technician, and holding a number of other roles including Water Quality Scientist and Distribution Project Manager.

He joined DWI in 2014 where part of his responsibilities was liaising with the sector on emergency planning and security and more recently leading on the implementation of the Network & Information Systems (NIS) Regulations. In January 2020 he joined Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water as their Head of Emergency Planning and Security.

He has a BSc. (Hons) in Applied Science from Portsmouth University and is a Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Scientist. He joined the Institute in 2006 and has been an active member on the South East Area Committee since 2007. He is part of the Institutes CPD assessment team and is a professional registration assessor for the Science Council.

Steve credits the Institute as one of the main reasons behind his career development and is therefore more than happy to talk about the benefits of the Institute to anyone who needs a ‘case study’.

Catherine Fearon

Vice Chair
Water Quality Regulation Manager, Anglian Water Services

Catherine is a Chartered Scientist (CSci) and Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) and has been working within the water industry for 21 years after completing her Masters in Water Science and Technology in 1998.  After a short time working for the Environment Agency she then joined Anglian Water and undertook various roles within Operations, Innovation and the commercial arm, H2go.  In 2001 Catherine left Anglian Water to become a Water Quality Scientist for Mid Kent Water, a role Catherine undertook for 7 years before Mid Kent Water and South East Water merged.  After a further 3 years as Water Quality Manager for South East Water, Catherine then rejoined Anglian Water in 2011 as their Water Quality Risk and Strategy Manager and became the Water Quality Regulation Manager in 2013, a role she still has today.

Catherine has been an active member of the Institute of Water throughout her career holding the role of South East Area Chairman and the Eastern Area Membership Secretary.  She is passionate about the Institute of Water and feels privileged to be holding the post of Vice Chair.

Lynn Cooper

Chief Executive, Institute of Water

Lynn is Chief Executive of the Institute of Water, having joined in 1997 after a brief secondment from Northumbrian Water.

Lynn left her native Glasgow in 1983 with an Accountancy degree to work at Sunderland and South Shields Water Company where she qualified as an accountant in 1987. Lynn is a Founder Director and Honorary Fellow of the Society for the Environment, where she served as Treasurer for 8 years, and is also a Chartered Environmentalist. She now takes pleasure in inspiring and enabling members to reach their potential as well as balancing the books. In her spare time Lynn is a middle to long-distance running coach, helping people aged 13 to veteran to get the best out of themselves as athletes and get the best from athletics.

Ian Barker CEnv

Vice President Environment
Managing Director, Water Policy International

Ian Barker is Water Policy International Ltd’s founder and Managing Director. With over 35 years’ experience in the water sector he identified the need for an independent consultancy able to cover the spectrum from policy formulation through to practical, integrated water management solutions. And for an independent, authoritative voice on water policy and strategy.

Ian has worked within the water industry since before privatisation in 1989, when he opted for a career with the environmental regulator, rather than with one of the privatised companies. Since then, in a range of senior national roles, he developed a rare perspective to ensure that the water companies (and others) could deliver environmental protection and improvement, whilst still reconciling their wider responsibilities.

Robin Price CSci

Vice President Science
Managing Director, Water Resources East

Robin’s career in the water industry began in 1992 when he started a PhD at the University of Birmingham researching the impact of ozone treatment on algal-laden water and downstream water treatment processes. The PhD was sponsored by Anglian Water and, at the end of his studies, Robin was offered a 1 month contract by their Innovation team looking at the biology of activated carbon adsorbers. Robin spent over 20 years in scientific roles at Anglian Water which took him through the research and development, regulatory and operational teams, including 8 years as Head of Water Quality. In November 2018 Robin moved into the role of Interim Managing Director of Water Resources East, the regional water resource planning group developing a long-term, multi-sector collaborative plan for water management across Eastern England.  In November 2019, Robin was appointed to the role of Managing Director.

Robin’s role on the Institute of Water Board is to champion the professional development of scientists across the industry, particularly focused on developing Chartered Scientist and associated qualifications, working closely with the Science Council. Robin also chairs the Institute’s Membership and Standards Committee.

Jo Parker M.B.E., CEng

Vice President Engineering

Jo Parker is a chartered civil engineer and has worked in the water industry for over 40 years. She has held a variety of roles with UK water companies including Head of Network Asset Management and Operations Director and has also worked in a variety of other countries. She was awarded the MBE by the Queen in 1996 for services to the water industry.

She currently works as an independent consultant specialising in the management of water mains and is recognised internationally as an expert in the field. She has particular expertise at applying the principals of asset management to developing countries. She is a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, The Institute of Water and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management.

Besides being on the Engineering Panel of the Institute of Water she is a Council Member of the UK Society of Trenchless Technology, she has also been a chair of the Utilities Panel and the Midlands Branch of the Pipeline Industries Guild, the first woman National Chairman of the Institute of Water and a founder member of the Utility Mapping Association.

Douglas Millican

Past President
Chief Executive, Scottish Water

Douglas is Chief Executive of Scottish Water, which supplies over five million customers across the mainland and islands of Scotland. Douglas has worked in the Scottish water industry for over 20 years, initially in financial and commercial roles with East of Scotland Water.  Since Scottish Water was formed in 2002, he has been at the heart of the transformation of the business, serving as Finance and Regulation Director for over ten years before being appointed as Chief Executive in 2013.

Before joining the water sector, Douglas worked with Price Waterhouse in the UK and New Zealand, and with Tyco in Australia, in a variety of financial roles.  He is a Chartered Accountant with a BCom from the University of Edinburgh and is an Associate Member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.

Douglas is a non-executive Director and Trustee of World Vision UK where he chairs the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.

Simon Cyhanko

Board Member
Sewerage Operations Manager, Northumbrian Water Group

Simon joined Northumbrian Water in 2001. Having ‘graduated’ from the graduate scheme Simon has worked in a number of people management roles in Information Services, Water Production and more recently Sewerage Operations. Personal development has been central to Simon’s career and he has completed a Leadership and Management degree and has achieved Chartered Manager and Chartered Environmentalist registration over recent years.

Simon has been an active part of the Northern Area Committee since 2003 where most recently he held the role of Area Chair. Simon believes the Institute to be a ‘family’ and is delighted to join the board and have the opportunity to further promote the institute within his company and the broader industry.

Paul Hickey

Board Member
Managing Director, RAPID

Paul Hickey is the Managing Director of RAPID (Regulators Alliance Progressing Infrastructure Development) – a regulatory partnership between Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.  RAPID’s goal is facilitate the coordinated delivery of a programme of strategic water resource schemes required to meet the needs of people, the economy and our environment as set out in the National Water Resource Framework.  RAPID will also test the regulatory and commercial arrangements for water resource infrastructure to ensure it is fit for future needs.

Paul is seconded to RAPID from the Environment Agency where he was Deputy Director with oversight of Water Resources for England.  Prior to the Environment Agency, Paul worked in the water industry in a variety of regulation and asset management roles.

Paul is a Fellow of the Institute of Water and sits on its Board as well as the South West Area Committee.

Linda Williams

Board Member
People & Change Director, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Linda joined Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) in October 2009 as Director of Human Resources to lead all people activities.

Linda was previously HR Director for Cheshire Building Society and Chairman of Cheshire Mortgage Brokers. Before that she led HR teams in UK automotive sites for Honeywell Inc, a global Fortune 100 company and also acted as Plant Manager/MD for one site. Throughout her career Linda has successfully led large scale performance improvement and cultural change programmes.

Linda is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and a Six Sigma Greenbelt. She was elected as President of the Institute of Water Welsh Area in April 2017.

Sarah Murray

Board Member
Senior Scientific Officer, Water Quality, Affinity Water Ltd

Sarah, a 2017 Rising Star and Chartered Scientist, was elected to the Board in 2018 after an intense recruitment process offered to all Rising Stars.

Sarah has a Natural Sciences degree from Lancaster University and is currently a Senior Scientific Officer within the Water Quality team at Affinity Water.

Sarah is our Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI) Board Champion and is driving delivery of our DEI Action Plan. In 2019 Sarah helped establish our Young Persons’ Network to support members in their early careers and help them get the most from their membership.

Come and say hello to Sarah at any South East Area event where she’d love to hear your views on DEI and ideas to inspire and support people in the early stages of their career.

Benjamin Tam

Board Member
Managing Director of Isle Utilities

Ben is Managing Director of Isle Utilities in the UK. He is a water sector professional with a background in science and innovation. Starting with a PhD in biochemistry he worked at Anglian Water, fulfilling a variety of operational and technical roles in water and water networks. At Isle, Ben has a focus on strategic consultancy projects water utilities to develop innovation plans and overcome the difficulty in implementing innovative ideas and technologies. Ben supports international projects and has led on a long-term project in Sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate the adoption of new technologies by utilities and as a result, has built up experience and networks across multiple countries. This international experience has also included a long involvement with IWA and supporting the delivery of the innovation pavilions at the Congress.

Ben has been a member of the Eastern Area Committee since 2010 and a recent past chair. He joins the IWater Board to represent the IWA and chairs the IWA UK committee. He believes there is a huge opportunity to do more in collaboration and leverage the water professional and academic communities both in the UK and internationally.