Helping others, getting hands-on and having the human touch – Nancy’s story
Are you passionate about the environment? Ready to kickstart a career where you can really make a splash? A place on our Graduate Scheme could be just what you’re looking for. Hear all about life on our Operational Management Graduate Scheme from Nancy.
Hi Nancy, can you tell us about your time on the Operational Management Graduate Scheme so far?
I started in customer services in the Community Outreach Team. We looked to support our communities in a number of ways, such as through our £100k Neighbourhood Fund, providing support for local charities and good causes like Torbay Beekeepers, Isles of Scilly Bat Group, and Chy Lowen Alpacas Tregaswith (CHAT). I was also part of the Awesome Water Roadshow project which involved getting out and about, talking to customers and promoting water efficiency.
Being given so many opportunities to regularly work outside the office was fabulous! For me, it was about listening to people, valuing their stories, and having that human touch. It's a very different way of looking at things and shapes how you see the rest of the business.
I’m now on my second placement, in Drinking Water Services, working on 'Smarter Healthier Homes' – part of South West Water’s Green Recovery Initiative. It's all about finding new ways to make a bigger societal contribution, helping customers save water, save money and have even safer and more resilient supplies to their homes. A key part of my role is helping project manage the repair and renewal of customer supply pipes, which as I’m discovering is quite a challenge!
"The job is humbling. You see things and meet people outside
your normal walk of life, and my eyes have been opened to
our communities and some of the issues they face."
What inspired you to join South West Water’s Operational Management Graduate Scheme?
The water industry has always been in the family! I grew up in the Middle East, where my dad worked on innovation in waste water treatment processes. I went on to study Human Geography at Exeter Uni and ended up writing my dissertation on Menstrual Hygiene Management, looking at water-quality networks in developing countries. I heard about the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) – a partnership between SWW and the University of Exeter – and got in contact with the Programme Manager. Despite CREWW being in its infancy at the time, I found the links between the university and South West Water as a whole very interesting. I decided that joining the Graduate Scheme would be a great way of seeing how all my research is applied to help tackle real-life challenges.
What do you love about your role?
I’m a people person, so I’ve really enjoyed the customer-centric part of my role. As part of the Community Outreach Team, the best thing was having the power to really make a difference to someone’s life. Not only financially through the Neighbourhood Fund, but getting stuck in with hands-on action. That could be volunteering, delivering food parcels with the Foodbank, or even spreading mulch!
What’s a project that has stayed with you?
Visiting CHAT – a non profit project using Animal Assisted Intervention to help children and young adults with a variety of issues – and talking to the lady there about the visitors who open up and voice their problems. One story really stuck with me. There was a little girl who had been non-verbal all her life, and after two visits to Ben, one of CHAT’s llamas, she spoke. It was the first time that the parents’ heard her voice.
Passionate about protecting the environment and championing sustainability? To find out more about our Graduate Scheme and discover our current opportunities.
I was warmly welcomed at South West Water - A Q&A with Customer Care Representative, Cat.
7 October, 2022