Supporting role: Heidi Mottram and Lynn Preston

November 1, 2016

Heidi Mottram* (pictured)

CEO, Northumbrian Water

Although I am a geography graduate, I joined British Rail and I was thrown into the world of engineering. I suppose I would have to agree that engineering is male dominated – until the point where people stop asking me about it! I believe a growth in the number of women engineers will be supported by those already in such roles leading by example and being visible, not because they are unusual, but because they are successful in these exciting roles.

I thoroughly enjoyed working in the rail industry and it was an amazing personal achievement when I became managing director of Northern Rail. Then the opportunity to become CEO of Northumbrian Water came along and gave me a chance to learn about an industry which is all about the very essence of life – what could be more important than water?

In this role, I try hard to provide a vision and direction that my team believe in and then motivate them and give them space to deliver that vision. I’m always there to nudge and encourage people along the way.

When I was appointed to the role in 2010, I joined a management team where I was one of just two women. I set out my stall from the outset that I wanted to address this balance and achieve a more diverse team, because it has been proved time and time again that diverse teams are high performing and that they make a huge difference to an organisation. Today, half of our executive directors are women. That’s a huge shift in six years.

Lynn Preston

Project manager, Northumbrian Water

I am a project manager at Northumbrian Water and when it is identified that we need to upgrade a section of our vast water and sewerage network, it is my role to make sure we have the required resources, skills, knowledge and expertise to deliver this work in a timely and cost-effective manner. The projects I work on are mainly to reduce flood risk to customers – one of our top priorities. This entails working with a wide range of people from contractors and consultants to dealing with customer and stakeholder queries.

I think it is great to have a female CEO in one of the largest businesses in the North East. Heidi has taught me to be myself, to be true to what I believe in and to lead by example. She has always been very supportive of the type of work I do. Heidi is very enthusiastic and well-informed, and leads by example. She is motivational and inspiring when she speaks. Aside from all this Heidi is very easy to talk to, which is really important.

Northumbrian Water 

*Heidi Mottram was recently named North East Business Executive of the Year 2016