In Conversation with Niall Gleeson, Managing Director for Veolia Ireland

BITCI News - Nov 01, 2016



In this month of our In Conversation With series we are delighted to talk to Niall Gleeson, Managing Director for Veolia Ireland.

  • Please describe your role and responsibilities and how many years you have been in the company

I’m the Managing Director for Veolia Ireland, a leading resource management company that provides a comprehensive range of resource efficiency services covering energy, waste and water. Everything we do is designed to build the circular economy and preserve scarce raw materials.I joined Veolia just over a year ago, in September 2015, and I’m responsible for delivering the company’s growth plans throughout Ireland. Formerly I was the Managing Director for Alstom Ireland Limited and so for a decade I worked on projects, such as the supply and maintenance of Dublin’s Luas Tramway. I also managed the energy team that installed and maintained power plants across the country – meeting a significant portion of Ireland’s energy needsWith a career spanning over 25 years, I have knowledge focused on Ireland’s energy infrastructure requirements, including thermal and renewable energy.As a former President of the France Ireland Chamber of Commerce, I remain on its Executive Committee and I also sit on a number of representative bodies, including the Council of Dublin Chamber of Commerce and I’m a serving member of IBEC’s Transport and Engineering Councils.

  • What was your background previously? How did you enter the CR field?

I graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology as a Mechanical Engineer in 1988 and started my career working for General Electric on international assignments in the energy sector. After this I moved closer to home, taking on the role of Operations Manager at Shanahan Engineering, working with the same international accounts but as part of a smaller, more disruptive team.

Naturally in the power and transportation industry, sustainability has been a key subject throughout my career. I’ve worked across portfolios focused on investing in sustainable energy, such as wind turbines as well as huge hydro plants, then environmentally friendly public transport.

  • How has the sustainability/CSR programme evolved at your company?

At Veolia we have gone through a transformational change to address the challenges of the future and have adapted our business model in order to contribute to the circular economy through closed loop solutions. Strategically it’s important that being a responsible business becomes business as usual, and as a result there are several touch points.

We’ve adapted our global expertise to develop and deliver local environmental solutions to benefit local communities. For example: we’re helping Ireland attain its renewable energy targets through biomass power; one million people nationwide benefit from our drinking water; and through our government backed “Better Energy Communities” scheme we’ve saved local schools and hospitals approximately €1 million in energy savings. We also commit €15,000 annually for local community funding and work with DEIS schools on the north side of Dublin to encourage youngsters, especially girls, into STEM careers.

Reinforcing these commitments, Veolia has recently been awarded BITC Ireland’s Business Working Responsibly Mark, an all-encompassing standard that certifies responsible and sustainable business practices – to which we are proud to be a part of.

  • What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?

Owing to the hundreds of touchpoints we have throughout the Irish sustainability network it’s sometimes hard to stay focused.

To help reduce this I believe it’s important to remind people of the important role they play in helping us achieve the big targets that make the biggest environmental impact in the long-term.

We employ approximately 500 people in Ireland and once each individual realises their contribution that’s when we can make a real change as a collective. I want every single person to be a focused sustainability champion.

  • What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

Throughout my career I’ve joined several industry bodies from the Engineers Ireland to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and they’ve proved to be invaluable – especially when it comes to learning from different people’s experience. Having a wide range of knowledge and insight can help make those big business decisions and give you pools of knowledge to base these decisions on. This is especially so when it comes to encouraging the circular economy because the challenges faced my SMEs are very different to those faced by large enterprises but equally as important.

  • What is your motto in life?

“Never turn down an opportunity” – I’ve always taken the tougher job option and it’s always turned out well.

  • What would a perfect day entail for you?

For me, the perfect weekday would be delivering as Veolia’s MD in Ireland, such as securing a big business deal that not only delivers for the company and my team but also the environment. Then, on the weekend, all I require is for the sun to shine so I can spend time on my boat Someday.

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