Rebecca Chenery

Rebecca Chenery

Chief Digital Officer

Auckland’s Watercare, New Zealand’s largest water utility company, provides the city’s 1.7 million people with clean water and reliable wastewater...

As Chief Digital Officer, Rebecca Chenery has a progressive vision for defining customer-centricity in the modern market. “Becoming customer-centric today means more than being reliable and efficient – it means being fast, flexible and responsive to the changing needs of Aucklanders,” she says. It is following this sentiment that provides the driving force behind the digital transformation and application of technology underway at Watercare.

Beginning her career at Vodafone New Zealand in 2001, Chenery became familiar with a host of project management and revenue-related roles. Her journey at Watercare began 2010, where she quickly progressed to become CDO in 2017. 

Not wanting to create an ‘innovation bubble’ at Watercare, Chenery affirms her preference for a cooperative, communal environment where opinions are valued and voices are heard. “For an organisation like Watercare, which has had a number of long-tenure staff and legacy ways of working, the culture shift has been substantial,” she says. 

However, broad changes were needed and continue to be implemented as the company continues to focus on digital innovation. Chenery recognises that any meaningful change must start from the ground up, meaning that employees (the foundation of any company) must be suitably empowered to carry digital changes forward. “Keeping ahead of technological advances, scanning the market inside and outside of the water industry, and trying to raise digital literacy across staff are core expectations of the Digital team.”

A key way in which Chenery and the management team at Watercare drove this change in working culture was through the creation of a new co-working space, The Hub, which Chenery says, “provides a place for people to meet, eat, work and host visitors - to use as they see fit.” The notion of a shared, multi-purpose space was new for Watercare. It was an initial signal that the culture was changing into more of a creative environment, led by new ideas and collaborative working.

It can sometimes be easy to forget that technological changes proceeds from cultural change, and that the key aspect of any people-centric approach must be to guarantee that the needs of employees and customers are considered in equal measure. As CDO, it is Chenery’s responsibility to ensure this balancing act is achieved. “Everything we have done, whatever outcome we needed to deliver, has been focused on our people and our customers,” she says. “The culture change is the foundation of everything that we have been able to do.”

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