Thames Water appoints new chief

Thames Water has appointed Sarah Bentley as chief executive officer.

Bentley (pictured) will take up her post in the autumn. She will join Thames from Severn Trent Water where she was chief customer officer as well as group chief information officer.

Thames chair, Ian Marchant, who has taken a intern executive role since the previous chief, Steve Robertson, was ousted in May last year, said the Thames board had “conducted a thorough search to find the best candidate to fill this important role, and we’re delighted to have secured someone of Sarah’s calibre.”

He added: “Her natural ability to inspire and motivate customer-facing teams will ensure that our collective focus is always on delivering for our customers regardless of the circumstances we face, not least those we’re all experiencing today. Marchant went on to describe Bentley as “the perfect person to lead our multi-billion pound investment programme and develop our longer term strategy to ensure a resilient water and waste service for generations to come.”

Prior to her time at Severn Trent, Bentley was managing director of Accenture’s UK and Ireland digital business.

Thames said Marchant will continue as interim executive chairman until Bentley takes up her post when he will revert to his role as chairman of Thames Water.

Before joining Severn Trent, Bentley was managing partner for Accenture’s digital business unit in the UK and Ireland delivering digital transformation programs to a range of large UK consumer-facing businesses and was a member of the Accenture UK and Ireland executive committee. She is a non-executive director of Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland and director and secretary of management consultancy, Twizzletwig.

Her pay will comprise a salary of £750k, and a pension allowance of 12% with £30k in other benefits; an annual bonus of up to 120% of salary; and a long-term incentive of up to 200% of salary with he earliest first payment I 2023.

The bonus and incentive will be dependent on achieving “specified performance improvements in key areas including leakage, pollutions and customer service.”

Bentley will be paid about £3.1m in compensation for surrendering her potential bonus, deferred bonuses and long-term incentives from Severn Trent. Thames said “an element” of the compensation package will be subject to Bentley’s achievement of targets for return on retained earnings and customer and environmental performance over two-years.