Jon Hargreaves – obituary

Dr Jon Hargreaves, CBE F.I.C.E., the first Chief Executive of Scottish Water, has died aged 66 after a short illness.

Jon was a scientist by training but spent most of his working life involved in the water industry at home and abroad.

Born and raised in Lancashire, his father was a veterinary surgeon. He graduated BSc in Applied Biology and was awarded a Doctorate from Durham University.

Prior to joining East of Scotland Water he began his career at Northumbria Water in 1975 and became Managing Director of Northumbrian Water Ltd, in 1993. He was also Managing Director of ENTEC Europe Ltd and Managing Director of Northumbrian Lyonnaise International.

As Scottish Water’s first Chief Executive, he played a pivotal role in leading the transformation of water services to customers in Scotland.

In July 2000, Jon joined East of Scotland Water (ESW) as Chief Executive and in April 2002 was appointed Chief Executive of Scottish Water at the formation of the first Scotland wide water industry after the three authorities covering West, East and North were merged.

Jon had 30 years experience in the UK water industry together with experience in international markets. He retired from Scottish Water in November 2007.

In 2010 he became a non executive director to the Port of Tyne Board and deputy chairman in 2014. He was Chair of Scottish Canals. Under his stewardship the Kelpies idea took shape.

From 2013 he was Chair of Northern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. A non executive director in Northern Stage and Chair of the Finance Committee, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts.

It was always more than just work for this dynamic and charismatic leader. The need to provide safe drinking water around the world and a strong desire to clean up the environment was embedded in his DNA from the moment he first got involved with the water industry.

His commitment to supporting WaterAid was the driving force for improving water standards across the world. He believed every person in Scotland and in the world deserved the same safe drinking water. This ethos is at the heart of everything that Scottish Water does today.

He was passionate about the job of improving Scotland’s water infrastructure and built a strong team to improve the service to Scottish Water’s customers and the network. He imbued a belief in everyone who worked with him that anything is possible if you work together and believe it is the right thing to do.

Under his stewardship Scottish Water quickly established real improvements in its first few years, driving charges down and ensuring Scottish Water delivered the investment the country needed.

He was an inspirational leader and instilled in the first few years of Scottish Water the belief that the business could be a successful public utility matching the very best private companies in England and Wales.

From the first time he bounced into a room full of senior managers – as the new CEO – he captivated people with his forward thinking plans and enthusiasm.

Jon was dynamic, always on the go and displayed an energy and passion. He was a doer who got things done.

He relished a challenge - the harder the better- and put his whole self into delivering the best.

Scottish Water is today providing an industry leading service to its customers – and that is no small part due to Jon’s inspiring leadership, having laid the foundations of the successful public utility we have today.

Jon will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues in Scottish Water.

He is survived by his wife Hilary, who supported him throughout his career, daughters Clare and Kate and three grandchildren.