Estelle Brachlianoff, currently regional director for Veolias Paris operations based on the Ile de France region, will travel to London to take up the new post on August 28 2012.
She will succeed current chief executive Jean-Dominique Mallet who has already returned to France because of ill health. Mr Mallet, who has substantial experience in the sector, is expected to take up a position as senior vice-president in the companys Paris headquarters for Veolia ES.
Theappointment is a significant first for the UKs waste industry where there are virtually no women involved at the top level. Ms Brachlianoff has spoken of this saying: “There are still too few women in senior management positions in our sector. They are therefore not yet able to access certain informal networks, let alone create any. But beyond the question of gender diversity in a traditionally male world, this situation is also due to generational issues of education and social conditioning.
Mr Malletwas expectedto speak at the CIWM conference in June and although listed as a keynote speaker for the RWM conference in September, he is not expected to attend. The change also means that the UKs trade body representing the waste management industry, the Environmental Services Association, loses its chairman Mr Mallet had been in the post for less than half his two-year term of office.
During his absence from London, where Veolias UK business Veolia Environmental Services is headquartered, Tom Spaul, chief operating officer, has been overseeing most tasks.
Ms Brachlianoff, 40, has a strong pedigree in waste and resource management. She was appointed CEO of Veolia Environmental Cleaning and Multiservices in 2008. A student of Frances prestigious Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole des Ponts et Chausses, in 1998 she joined the Val d’Oise DDE organisation as its head of major infrastructure. In 2002 she became advisor to the Prefect of the Ile-de-France, responsible for transport issues and development. In 2010 she was appointed to the post of regional director of Veolia Proprete which provides waste, energy and recycling services to the Paris region.
The rapid promotion of Ms Brachlianoff to run the UK operation means she will be running one of Veolias most successful and continuing businesses it has recently sold off businesses in Northern Europe and the United States. She will also be joining Veolia ES at a crucial stage as it is one of the remaining contenders for the large North London Waste Authority contract and she will be able to bring her experience in Paris, which includes energy recovery,to the table.
Mr Mallet had indicated that he would endeavour to get an English chief executive to succeed him so the appointment of aFrench chief executive to succeed him may come as a surprise to some.
In May 2011, Mr Mallet told France Monde Express that in terms of Veolia ES: We are not French, we are a UK company. Even though our HQ is in France, we are a local company by definition because we serve local authorities as well as large well known blue chip organisations and SMEs. 90 percent of our staff in the UK are British.
Mr Mallet added: And yes, I am French but the next CEO doesnt have to be. Our CEO in America is American, in Germany, German, and even though it is the Board who will make the ultimate decision, I will personally endeavour to make sure the next UK CEO is British with an obvious understanding of French culture.
Ms Brachlianoff has spoken of the strength of the Veolia brand, in November 2007 she highlighted the success of adopting the name across the companys various businesses back in 2005.
And, she has spoken out strongly on the role of women in companies saying that she is keen to see women have confidence to make progress but does not support positive discrimination. In a Veolia publication on women working for the business, Ms Brachlianoff said: Iforbid any practice of positive discrimination in recruitment while driving a proactive policy promotion of the professional mix. In this perspective, I considered a mission to help women gain confidence in them. Too often they censor themselves when they find they donot arrive because of family obligations, they are not to have certain skills, they cannot claim more than a man.”
She continued: This perception of a glass ceiling – a concept that describes all possible obstacles explain a certain scarcity of women in positions of power and organizational decision – does not match reality Veolia Environmental Services. Within our company, it is increasingly possible for a woman to become a patron, whether or not children, provided, of course, to be the best for the job.”
Esther Kiddle, solicitor at Bond Pearce andfounder of the Women in Waste networking group, welcomed the appointment.
She said: “Absolutely brilliant. A well deserved appointment for Estelle and a great reflection of Veolia’s openness to diversity.”