The Veolia boss wants to encourage and innovate after being injured in the Suez coup

Estelle Brachlianoff, chief executive of the French support group Veolia, has a desk in her office where she exhibits unique corporate layouts.

They include a milk bottle made from recycled plastic as well as two small containers containing palladium powder and platinum pellets, which are often used in turning agents to help motorists reduce emissions.

It is Veolia’s invention or removal that is the new recycling strategy that Brachlianoff presents as innovative that has transformed water and waste management companies as they try to cope with climate change.

For Brachlianoff, who has been appointed this week as the new manager of a humanitarian company since July, such progress will be instrumental in strengthening the workforce after the war against Suez, a French water company competitor since the 19th century, which descended into courts.

“Our first job is to sweep [former Suez staff] in our work, in our interest, “he said in an interview at the Veolia capital just outside Paris, where the company is located near prestigious clubs such as Chanel, a luxury French apartment.

Brachlianoff, 49, is polished and calm and enjoys talking about new things needed to help companies repair their natural history and recycle seemingly indestructible waste, just as they train engineers.

His appointment after 17 years at the company also marks a major milestone in France, with his second wife at CAC 40, along with Catherine MacGregor on Engie’s electronic team.

“It’s a topic we all need to move forward with,” she said, adding that she loves the teaching work within Veolia as one way to help women climb the ladder at work.

A graduate of the French high school of École Polytechnique, Brachlianoff, whose mother was also an engineer and the first woman in his company, cut his teeth in Veolia while running his British business from 2012 to 2018.

But it was Suez’s saga that decided to turn him into a well-known candidate for the senior, a man who was deeply affected by the negotiations.

As vice-chairman and chief of staff Antoine Frérot, he was a fierce enemy and a force to be reckoned with, says a man who passed him by during the coup.

“Consolidated negotiations took place as he stood up, working on industrial issues and on non-aligned issues,” added the first person. He showed resilience in the negotiations, working day and night and helping Veolia deal with the problem with a strong approach, all the ambitions to lead the team even though they may need to have a leadership role as a senior, he said.

“It has to be an inner person at all times [to take over as chief executive], “The man continued, as the most important thing for the group was to integrate Suez and Veolia before deciding otherwise as to whether the company should move to such areas as power.

Axel Dumas, Hermès chief executive of the top wallets of which Brachlianoff is a board member, told the Financial Times that his appointment was “encouraging”. He is a senior with a strong vision that combines “compassion and strength”, he added.

Veolia hit Suez in mid-2020, for the first time taking 29.9 percent of the group. This led to six months of heated debate as Suez’s managers tried to prevent him from participating.

An estimated € 13bn deal was reached at the end of last April, which included sorting Suez ‘s assets into another category, especially its French water business that would create competition problems and employ 50,000 people in the country.

The larger Veolia group will have € 37bn in revenue and 230,000 global workers, as well as a leading market share, albeit only 5 percent, in water and waste management companies.

Frérot will remain in office, but said he wants to pursue a CEO after 10 years in office to coincide with a “new journey” of integration.

Brachlianoff now has to deal with antitrust investigations in the UK, where the sale of goods is not allowed.

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Elsewhere, the merger will begin this month, with staff members looking for financial indicators designed for research and development as well as budget increases, said Florencio Martin, CGT representative in Veolia.

In a joint statement, Brachlianoff is delighted, emphasizing that many of Suez’s staff have applied to join Veolia, although some were previously part of the spin-off program.

The key is for existing groups to work together, and then find new development capabilities, including areas such as irrigation water and natural fertilizers where the two companies had more expertise, he said.

“You feel like these groups don’t want anything more than just talk,” he added. “The first thing we can do is do it, [so that] we benefit from the skills that a partnership with Suez will bring. “

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