Xylem is celebrating its 10th anniversary of solving water, debuting a decade ago as a standalone company on the New York Stock Exchange after spinning off from ITT. Making Waves spoke with Xylem President and CEO Patrick Decker about the company’s work with our customers and partners to advance water technologies and innovation to make communities around the world more water-secure.
Q: How has the water sector’s work to solve the world’s water challenges changed in recent years?
A: All over the world, we see water challenges accelerating. Problems like water scarcity, water affordability and infrastructure resilience in the face of climate change are growing more severe, and that’s affecting more people than ever before. That means the water sector has to constantly find new ways of solving problems to help communities become more resilient and sustainable. The good news is that digital technologies and other advanced solutions have the power to make a huge difference -- strengthening and optimizing water systems, including creating major water, energy and cost savings. At Xylem, we are working every day to develop these solutions and help our customers adopt them. Seeing the impact we can make together for communities is so inspiring. There’s really never been a more exciting time to work in water.
Q: As Xylem marks our 10th anniversary, what are some of the key learnings from our journey so far?
A: Our tagline at Xylem – “Let’s solve water” – says it all. We are fully focused on helping communities take on the toughest water challenges they face by working with our customers and our web of partners to solve water together. The most important part of the sentence, “Let’s solve water” is the word “let’s.” Let us solve water. It’s a team effort. We’re working together to come up with bold ideas that are helping solve once intractable problems. This combination of innovation and co-creation with partners who share our values makes all the difference. It fuels our progress and helps us in shaping the next generation of water solutions, from digital products and solutions, to tools that promote water equity, to innovative approaches that enable water reuse and other sustainable methods of improving and optimizing water for communities. I’m so grateful to our team of 16,000 colleagues and our partners around the globe, and so excited about the difference we will make over the next 10 years and beyond.
Q: How is Xylem deepening its commitment to social impact as an organization?
A: Since our beginning, we’ve been a company with a strong focus on creating social value. It’s really core to who we are. In recent years, we’ve deepened this commitment by expanding our corporate social responsibility program, Xylem Watermark, which focuses on providing education and equitable access to safe water and sanitation. Today, we’re partnering with leading NGOs such as UNICEF, Mercy Corps, Americares, Planet Water, EarthEcho International and others. We’re also creating opportunities to involve our customers and other stakeholders, so we’re creating social value by solving water together.
And linked to this, we’re focused on creative ways to raise awareness and engage the public around water challenges and water complacency. Take our partnership with City Football Group, parent of Manchester City Football Club. To date, we’ve reached over 1 billion people with our water public awareness campaigns, and I couldn’t be prouder. Again, it’s a team effort.
Q: What does solving water mean to you?
A: Being able to lead a company with such a sense of purpose is one of the greatest privileges of my life. One story in particular comes to mind. As part of our humanitarian efforts a few years ago, we teamed with non-profit and distributor partners to build a well for a family who had lived on their property outside of San Antonio, Texas, for 20 years without a reliable clean water source. Afterwards, the parents thanked us, saying, “Water is freedom.” Those words will always stay with me. Through our work with our colleagues and partners, we’re helping families and communities solve one of their most fundamental challenges. We’re helping them live better lives. It is a privilege to work in the water sector at this moment in history. We truly have the opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference.
Learn more about how Xylem is solving water and advancing sustainability: Xylem Sustainability Report