PEOPLE OF XYLEM: Tavon Ellis, Vice President, Enterprise Software Strategy
“I joined Xylem because I wanted to apply my creativity in ways that would have a true impact for customers, and more importantly for our children. My goal is to hand things off to the next generation in better shape than we found it.”
Tavon Ellis has been curious about technology since childhood. When his parents purchased one of the first home PCs, he was instantly hooked.
“I believe my forward-thinking parents played a large role in inspiring my career path by introducing me to technology at such a young age,” he says.
Tavon graduated college with a degree in Information Systems, at a time that the internet was booming, making it an exciting time to be entering the technology industry. Tavon wanted to use his knowledge and skills for the greater good.
Aware of some of the struggles facing the water industry, he quickly saw a way he could use his passion for technology to solve real-world issues.
“At Xylem, our customers are faced with growing challenges, from aging infrastructure, and resourcing challenges, to regulatory requirements and demand for green infrastructure. We help by optimizing water network management with innovative tools and services including data streams, and analytical insights to inform decision making.”
Tavon started off designing and deploying digital solutions to capture, analyze and serve key information for Xylem businesses and water utilities across the country.
One of his fondest memories is successfully leading a business through a digital transformation for the first time. One of the Xylem brands Tavon was working with at the time was partnering with utilities on valve and hydrant assessment to help them better manage their systems and shut down pipes during emergencies. Their team on the ground had been capturing all critical information using paper maps and then transcribing that data manually. An inefficient process that could also cause problems if the paper maps were misplaced, Tavon recalls.
“I remember the thrill of dreaming up a better way to operate using technologies that were just gaining popularity, like mobile laptops, tablets, and then eventually mobile phones. Everyone’s minds were blown that the same process could be simplified and made more cost-effective simply by going digital. This was an eye-opening experience, one I wanted to achieve over and over again. Luckily, at Xylem, I’ve been able to do just that, using technology to develop solutions that not only benefit our customer utilities but also have the potential to impact millions of water consumers around the world.”
Thanks to the guidance of senior leaders including Al Cho, SVP Chief Strategy and External Affairs Officer, and David Flinton, SVP Chief Innovation, Technology and Product Management Officer, Tavon says he has been able to align his own ambitions closely with Xylem’s business goals and found ways to stretch and succeed professionally while staying curious and passionate about solving water.
Tavon is particularly proud of what he has helped Xylem develop around water equity; a huge issue facing the utilities sector that’s not always easy to see.
“Together we’ve designed a solution that provides much-needed visibility into the distribution of water network issues and improvements across communities, helping utilities visualize information quickly enough to course-correct. This solution helps decision makers analyze the distribution of water network benefits across local neighborhoods which helps drive greater water equity. Witnessing ideas become a reality is always gratifying but seeing our collective efforts impact the lives of communities is very special.”
“I’m proud to work for a company with a culture that brings innovative solutions to life every day.”
In Tavon’s current role as Vice President Enterprise Software Strategy, he is responsible for driving aspects of Xylem’s software strategy and supporting the success of all business units operating within Xylem’s software ecosystem with a focus on advancement, access, and adoption.
“I’ve always wanted to pass on my knowledge to the next generation so having the ability to mentor and influence so many people through my work at Xylem is really rewarding.”
Leading teams focused on Enterprise-wide advancement, Tavon says he leans heavily on the tools he acquired along the way to maintain Xylem’s culture of innovation and agility: active listening, cross-team alignment, collaboration, team empowerment, and continuous improvement.
“Water is precious to us all, so mentoring team members and helping water providers be better stewards is a welcome challenge.”
Outside of his day-to-day role, Tavon makes time to give back through his church, mentoring programs, and Xylem Watermark, Xylem’s corporate citizenship program, regularly volunteering at local events. Tavon describes the Watermark initiative as an amazing motivator to unite families and team members while having a positive impact outside of work.
“I feel like I have found my place among a people-focused, kind-hearted, solutions-driven, and passionate group of individuals backed with the power and resources of a leading global water technology company.”
“What started out as a curiosity in technology turned into a passion for creating innovative products and services that positively impact real people and communities.”
“I’ve been told by so many of my mentors and peers to love what you do and do what you love. I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of being able to do just that at Xylem,” Tavon sums up.
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