Young People make Wannon Water's Andrew Jeffers Optimistic
Wannon Water recently joined me in sharing "Optimism and Optimistic Leadership: The How and Why."
We were led in our deliberations by the Managing Director Andrew Jeffers and the Chair of Wannon Water, Jacinta Ermacora.
Intern Liam and I took the opportunity to ask Andrew what makes him optimistic.
Liam: Andrew, what makes you optimistic?
Andrew: You do, Liam. Not just you, right, young people and what they do, what they get up to, how they grow, and how I learn from them; they make me feel optimistic about the future.
Victor: Paul Polman, the former head of Unilever with 400,000- staff, said precisely the same thing to us, that it's young people that inspire him.
You've got young trainees like Liam in their first few months, and you've got older people moving from other enterprises, and they catch your positive vibe. As I walked through your corridors, there were greetings with a smile and a friendly look. What is it that creates that positive atmosphere here at Wannon Water?
Andrew: "I don't know what it is exactly. However, it's purposeful.
"One of the things that we say is fundamentally important is people love coming to work and that we have some fun. And because we're here so much of the time, why not have fun? I like having fun and enjoying work, so why shouldn't everyone else?
"Yes, whilst we have some complex issues, we've got to work hard and break the back of the things that come and challenge us; it's also good to sit back and have a laugh and not take things too seriously. So we try and get that balance as much as we can.
Victor: Your chair Jacinta Ermacora talks about a sense of joy. You talk about a sense of fun. And yet, at the other end, you're dealing with serious issues of sanitation, clean water, flood events that make it difficult- new capital that you've got to build. So how do you bring that sense of joy and fun into the innovation process that makes your enterprise so successful?
Andrew: Fun, joy and serious issues are not mutually exclusive. Things can be serious but enjoyable, and we have some fun with our colleagues along the way.
You have to be careful from time to time. There's a right time to be very serious. But generally speaking, having a bit of humour in the workplace goes a long way.
Victor: Recently you submitted your price submission to the Essential Services Commission, a document that takes years to produce. Looking at that document, what's the most exciting capital project or innovation you've offered to the regulator?
Andrew: The most important thing for me in this price mission is our customers shaped it. We're doing what they're asked for because we went out and genuinely asked them what they want from their water corporation and this price submission delivers that, so that's the exciting thing.