We speak to Australian/British dual national, Laura Harmer, who’s the Head of Central Support Services within Severn Trent Services.
Laura now lives in Leicester with her husband and two sons, Josh (16) and Zachy (14).
How long have you been working for ST?
20 years. Seven years in Severn Trent Services and 13 years in Severn Trent. I joined straight from university and not long ago received my long-service award.
As a graduate, I honestly used to roll my eyes when people used to tell me how long they’d worked for the same company.
But I’ve been lucky enough to work in several different roles that have stretched me and suited my life choices. For example, now my children are older, I’m able to take on more responsibility which has led to me being promoted as a result.
What does your main job role entail? i.e. data entry, customer service etc
I lead around 75 people within central support functions. Our job is to help the other businesses within Severn Trent Services to operate as successfully as they can.
They’re critical functions and include planning, technology, fleet, health and safety, engineering, asset management, compliance, contracts, and more!
What was your first role here at ST and has it changed i.e. promotion or job evolved?
I left Plymouth university – having studied business management – and started working for Severn Trent as a PA. This was a temporary role for three months to cover a planned sick absence.
I was based in Wanlip sewage treatment works and supported a senior leader in the waste side of the business. I was a very confident graduate, and he subsequently secured a permanent position for me as a project improvement analyst. The rest is history!
What’s the best thing about working for STS?
I love the fast pace, the autonomy, and the freedom to make decisions and try new things.
We’re not hindered by decision-making by committee, or unnecessary bureaucracy. If we think we’ve got a great idea, we’re given licence to crack on and make it happen.
What is your proudest personal moment (in or outside of work)?
A year ago, we brought together two separate functions who were made up of very different talents and skillsets. The objective was to create an organisation that allowed us to work better together.
After nine months – despite the change, disruption, and some resistance – our employee engagement scores were amazingly high. This is something I’m extremely proud of.
I’m also very proud of being able to sponsor a talent programme which provides opportunities, for those who want it, to develop their careers within Severn Trent Services.
Outside of work, my eldest boy Josh has recently been on a personal journey where he’s now discovered the importance of education, in addition to his beloved rugby. I’m proud of the choices he’s making to secure his future.
If you could name one individual who’s helped you over the years, who would they be and why?
Outside of work it’s my best friend, Marie. She swoops in when I need her most – with childcare for example – and her support has helped me to get where I am today.
Inside of work, it’s ‘the two Dans’ (There must be something about the name ‘Dan’!). Dan Mcardle, Head of Water Services Contracts, who I work super-closely with and speak to every day. And Dan Allman, MD of Oren Environmental, is somebody I use as a sounding board as our business continues to grow and evolve.
What has been your most memorable moment working for ST?
It was ending the last financial year with a customer satisfaction score of 4.75 out of 5, and a Net Promoter Score of 74.
When you think of what we do – water and wastewater services – it blows my mind that our team potentially makes our customers happier than the likes of Netflix and Disney do!