2017 Insights: Jim Athanas


2017 Insights: Jim Athanas

How should Australian industry respond to global challenges and competition?

Put water on the national agenda, not only carbon footprint. As the driest continent, with a large agriculture industry and high water use per capita, this is imperative for our future. There is much we can do with the water we transport, use and recycle to drive productivity and sustainability in Australia.

What sustainability processes and technology are you planning to implement in 2017?

Our sustainability strategy ties directly to our business strategy, enabling sustainability to be effectively and seamlessly integrated into all we do. We have a set of ambitious five-year sustainability goals that are aligned with the four key areas of our sustainability strategy: our offerings, our operations, external engagement, and organisation and culture. The goals continue to be incorporated into our business operating planning process, and progress is evaluated through various measures including our goal deployment process. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we are reviewing the best ways to track our progress against some of the harder-to-measure metrics.

How is the IoT impacting you and your clients?

Xylem is an industry leader with an unparalleled portfolio of solutions across the water cycle. By combining the recent acquisition of Sensus’s innovative technologies and data analytics capabilities with our broad portfolio, end markets, deep applications expertise and global reach, we are better positioned than ever before to meet customers’ evolving needs and solve some of the planet’s most urgent challenges.

What are your clients demanding of you now that they didn’t demand five years ago?

Customers are demanding a total solution versus just product supply. They seek aftersales service and innovative solutions that reduce their total cost of operation, whilst doing it sustainably. They also seek for ‘information/data’ to be readily available for them to make real-time and predictive decisions in driving greater visibility, control and hence overall continuous improvement within their operations.

A specific example is the greater acceptance of recycled water, with the need to deliver this cost-effectively, hence Xylem’s investment in recent acquisitions with Sensus and Visenti.

Would more government/industry partnerships assist you in running your business?

Government can help to guide local communities to invest in water infrastructure that ultimately drives positive social and financial outcomes. There is an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the wastewater treatment industry while saving billions of dollars, and a unified state and federal policy will enable Australia to capture this opportunity.

As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, resource scarcity and economic development for a growing population, new solutions are needed to meet today’s urgent needs while building a sustainable future. It is incumbent on all of us — individuals, private businesses, non-government organisations (NGO), academia and governments — to work together to scope and solve these challenges on a sector-by-sector basis.

Now is the time for the industry and all stakeholders in the climate change agenda to work together to overcome the barriers to adopting high-efficiency wastewater treatment technologies. We want to see greater productivity of wastewater operations and a meaningful step forward in tackling climate change.

We also seek to see water put onto the national agenda together with greenhouse gas emission in driving a unified policy. It will help create jobs both in the public and private sector, as water is critical in all industries. Without water, there is no life.

Jim Athanas leads Xylem’s commercial operations across the Oceania region, encompassing Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. In this role, he is responsible for all sales and marketing strategy and execution with continued emphasis on operational improvement, growth and profitability. He was named Managing Director of Xylem’s Oceania Commercial Team in July 2015.

Prior to joining Xylem, Jim served as managing director at Nilfisk, a global provider of professional cleaning equipment. Before that, he held a number of increasingly responsible positions at Ecolab, including vice president and general manager of the Water Care division for Australia and the Pacific.  Earlier in his career, he held various sales and marketing positions servicing the oil, power, steel, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries.

Jim holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Chemical Engineering from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Management from Macquarie University Graduate School of Management. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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