Water Innovation for a More Sustainable World

“Water is in everything. In every industry, in every community and in every local ecosystem. It’s so important to all those that we keep it safe and clean.”

Austin Alexander leads Sustainability at Xylem.

I first became interested in water issues back in high school, in my hometown of Big Timber, Montana. I had the opportunity to work on a project to build a sanitation system for a school in Uganda. I became keenly aware of the severe disparity in clean water and wastewater access – and the devastating impact that water insecurity can have on human health, the environment and local economies... in many cases, water challenges disproportionately impacting women and children. Through this, and the experience of visiting my first wastewater treatment plant in college, I became fascinated by the wastewater process: how you can take sewage or wastewater, apply innovation and technology, and transform it into something clean and safe. It sparked a passion to work in water, and in a company and an industry that is advancing sustainability.

Over my eight years at Xylem, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked across different functions of the company, including engineering support, sales and investor relations. Through these experiences, I’ve learned the many different ways our company is helping drive progress in sustainability and global water challenges.

My journey has included working directly with our customers and our first-class channel partners, seeing how they’re making a difference helping the communities they serve become more water-secure. This has underscored to me the importance of having trusted and long-lasting relationships to drive sustainability. I’ve also been fortunate to work with our growing number of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investors, who choose to invest their money in companies addressing critical water issues. Now today, I’m honored to partner with my 16,000 colleagues around the world to expand our impact through sustainability at Xylem.

Over the past two years, Xylem has broadened and deepened our commitment to sustainability, from focusing on our own footprint, or the environmental effects of our operations and locations, to driving sustainability more holistically, including across our portfolio of customer solutions and throughout our global humanitarian efforts. We’ve also put a bigger stake in the ground, announcing a bold slate of 2025 Sustainability Goals that put sustainability at the very core of our business strategy, and our charge to be a company that creates economic and social value.

Innovation is critical to this approach and our progress. With products and solutions, we’re working every day with our customers to make our solutions more water, energy and cost efficient. There are so many exciting examples of the sustainability benefits we can create together by leveraging digital technologies that optimize existing assets, preventing billions of gallons of polluted water through digital twin technology, and saving a massive amount of clean water from going to waste through advanced leak detection and prevention solutions, all while creating powerful cost and energy savings for our customers.

We’re also innovating every day to make our company more sustainable, advancing sustainability across our operations and supply chain, adopting ground-breaking green finance initiatives; championing diversity, inclusion and equity; and attracting and developing top talent. Lastly, we are innovating in our approach to corporate social responsibility, exploring new base-of-the-pyramid technologies, and building a network of partnerships with customers, suppliers, distributors and other stakeholders like City Football, parent of Premier League Champions Manchester City, and our NGO partners, including Mercy Corp, Planet Water, Engineers without Borders, UNICEF, Earth Echo and Americares, to provide disaster response and clean water access to communities facing dire water challenges, deliver WASH education, as well as drive public awareness and inspire the next generation of water leaders.

Water is in everything. Every industry, every community and in every local ecosystem. It’s so important to all those that we keep it safe and clean. That means there is endless opportunity with water. There are so many things we can do as a company and as an industry to make a difference. Everyone is so passionate about solving water. We all want to do our part to create a more sustainable world.

by Austin Alexander