This interview was coordinated by the WWD staff. To contact staff members, email [email protected]
WWD: Tell us about your involvement with Suez up to this point.
Singh: Becoming the CEO of Suez’s Water Technologies & Solutions (WTS) business has been like coming home for me. I spent several years in the water space—between 2004 and 2015—and helped build out what is now a large part of the Suez WTS platform. When I was part of GE Water, we were on an incredible mission to create a world-leading water business. And as the general manager of engineered systems at the former GE Water business, I oversaw a global team that developed and delivered an extensive range of projects, products and service offerings.
Today, I’m bringing my past knowledge of the water business with me, but I recognize that a lot has changed in the past four years. I am coming back to this industry with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
WWD: What are some trends that Suez Water Technologies & Solutions is noticing in the water and wastewater industries?
Singh: The water industry has a big role to play in developing its own circular economy, by leading the way in the creation, innovation and adoption of technologies that advance the principles of a circular economy to maximize the efficient use of water and close the resource loop. For example, the use of data and analytics helps to ensure assets operate at the highest levels of reliability, efficiency and output, while promoting greater productivity through automating routine tasks and simplifying processes. This helps the water treatment process become more efficient and drives down overall costs. It also has tangible environmental benefits like reduced energy and chemical consumption, and substantial water savings.
We’re also seeing more organizations look to outsource their water treatment operations. By leveraging Suez WTS’ expertise and services, they can focus on their core business, while we take their water assets and operations off their plates. Our extensive portfolio—everything from clarification, membranes, ozone systems, chemicals, etc.—makes it possible to pull together configurations to drive solutions for reuse, desalination, softening, and more.
WWD: How is Suez looking to address those market trends?
Singh: We continue to improve our digital services, and are actively developing and piloting analytics targeted at optimizing the performance of specific assets. Predictive analytics will help us when working with customers to create efficiencies that reduce water consumption, increase profitability, while also finding new ways to become more environmentally sound.
We’re also advancing our client asset services by helping customers shift from CapEx to OpEx and creating unique service programs to help with volume demands, emergency needs, and compliance requirements.
WWD: What goals do you have for Suez Water Technologies & Solutions as CEO?
Singh: Suez WTS is on a great trajectory and fundamentally I don’t think the strategy will change, but rather we will hone in on areas that need focus. There are four or five key areas where I am particularly pushing for growth. Those are geographic expansions into regions like Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa; capacity expansions for our key manufacturing facilities; expansion of our industrial build-own-operate client asset services; and the creation of disruptive technology and digital innovation.
WWD: How do you aim to achieve those goals?
Singh: We’re focused on helping customers promote resource recovery and our portfolio can make a huge difference as organizations all over the world look to transform waste into value. However, I believe that for the industry and utilities to better address current and emerging challenges, improving existing technologies and processes can be just as impactful, and potentially more cost effective, than the wholesale adoption on new technologies. Of course, there are situations where new technology is needed to achieve a specific goal.
I’m proud of how WTS works with our customers to maximize their existing plant footprints to increase productivity and energy efficiency. I’d like to see our work with customers in this respect continue to grow, whether that means we assist them with adopting advanced digital tools, retrofit existing facilities, or adopt the latest solutions available to help recover resources.
WWD: What else is in store for Suez Water Technologies & Solutions future?
Singh: As a global society facing increased water scarcity, we’re still only scratching the surface when it comes to treating wastewater for reuse. There’s so much opportunity available to us if we reuse our wastewater including augmenting water supplies, as well as recovering energy and nutrients. The technology is available today to make it reality, but barriers to reuse—primarily economic—exist and Suez WTS will continue to work with governments and industry to promote greater adoption, while maximizing the potential of the technologies that make reuse possible.