Answering Hard Utility Staffing Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced water utilities worldwide to make operational, managerial and financial changes to cope with the fallout from the spread of the virus. In this ROCKBlue Online Lecture Series (OLS) segment, our panel of experts discusses how to address critical water utility staffing challenges in developing countries.

 

Host:

Chris Serjak

General Manager – ROCKBlue

Chris Serjak has 20 years of experience in water and sanitation, infrastructure project management, sustainable international development, and environmental consulting. Chris currently serves as South Africa Team Leader for the USAID Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Finance project seeking to unlock funding for investment in the WASH sector to meet global targets for universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation. He previously led the $500M water and wastewater sector of USAID’s Iraq Infrastructure Reconstruction Program – the agency’s largest ever infrastructure project. Chris has also managed major infrastructure and environmental projects in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, and the United States. He began his career in South Africa where he worked on environmental assessments of mining projects in the Royal Bafokeng Nation in northern South Africa, the Maguga Dam in Swaziland, and various commercial projects throughout South Africa and Botswana. Chris has a MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), a postgraduate diploma in Construction Management from the University of Washington, and a BS in Geological and Environmental Science from Stanford University.

Panelists:

William Muhairwe

Founder – 2ML Consulting

Dr. Muhairwe is the Senior Team Leader/ Founder of 2ML Consulting Limited, a Management and Leadership Consulting firm and Executive Director of the Global Water Leaders’ Group – UK. His international experience spans 30 years in public and private sectors. He has focused on the management of water sector companies and organizations. His areas of expertise within the water utility sector include Change Management; Performance Improvement Programs (PIP); Concept and Business development; Development of system manuals (policies, operational procedures; loss reduction, human resources, etc.); Conducting Tariff Studies and Performance analysis. Dr. Muhairwe has been managing water industry reform projects for almost 21 years. He is responsible for one of the African water industry’s great success stories – the turnaround of Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). He has been involved in over 25 projects of similar characteristics in Africa, the Caribbean and Middle East.

 

Jo Parker

Water and Sanitation Specialist – ROCKBlue

Jo Parker is a Chartered Engineer with over 40 years in the water and utilities industry. Wide variety of technical and management posts with various UK water companies up to Director level. Experience worldwide including developed and developing countries such as Afghanistan, Australia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Bosnia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Mozambique, Philippines, Portugal. Director of technical and management consultants supplying advice and support to the utility industry. Clients include GLC, UK Water companies, Duchy of Cornwall, UK Water Industry Research, Greater London Authority, major UK energy distribution companies and civil engineering contractors. Specialties: Asset management, particularly of buried assets, water supply and distribution, research management and exploitation, project management, leakage from water pipelines, needs assessment and delivery of projects in developing and developed countries, technical authorship, experienced expert witness including formal reports and cross examination within public inquiries.

 

Boubacar Kane

General Director – SOMAGEP-SA

Boubacar Kane is an experienced chief executive with a long history working in the civil engineering industry. Currently he is the General Director for SOMAGEP-SA, the National Water Management Company of Mali. In this position his duties include general direction of the Company; chairing the Management Committee and management review of the Company; defining the Company’s Quality Policy; and setting objectives and key performance indicators for senior management. Prior to his work with SOMAGEP-SA he was with the Mali National Electric & Water Co as Director of Water.

 

Dr. Ignacio Castro

General manager – Aqualia (Czech Republic)

Ignacio is Czech Republic General Manager of Aqualia, Europe’s fourth-largest private water company in terms of population served. Mr. Castro’s responsibilities include all aspects of management of water utilities, serving 1.4 million people, in the Moravian-Silesian Region. Previously he held a variety of Aqualia positions in Spain related to the management of water utilities. His distinguished career began with the Spanish Navy. He holds a PhD from the VSB Technical University of Ostrava (Czech Republic) and a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Malaga (Spain). In addition, he has served on the Faculty of both Economics and Psychology from the National Distance Education University (UNED) of Spain.