In recognition of International Volunteer Day, Making Waves spoke with Xylem colleague and Watermark Ambassador and volunteer, Carolina Casserly.
Carolina Casserly, a water treatment specialist for Flygt mixers and Sanitaire, both Xylem brands, started her journey in water as a university student in Argentina. Over the years, she’s worked in different roles across the water sector, spanning both the private and public spheres. But she says coming to Xylem – and having the chance to engage in humanitarian projects serving water-challenged communities – has given her a much deeper sense of purpose and passion for her field.
Making Waves spoke with Carolina about her career in water, the Aquaton fundraising program she helped create, and the impact volunteering for Xylem’s corporate social responsibility program, Watermark, has made on her life.
Q: What is your role at Xylem?
I’m an expert in Xylem’s water treatment products and solutions, based in Argentina. My job is to make sure our products work best for our customers, so they can deliver the water services their communities and stakeholders depend on. On any given day that can mean teaming with Xylem sales and marketing colleagues to introduce customers to our offerings or show how they can optimize them for their systems, working with our service teams and customers to troubleshoot issues, or working with our aftermarket teams to guide customers when a product is at end of life.
Q: How did you decide on a career in water?
Here in Latin America, water scarcity is a major challenge due to dry conditions, water contamination and other factors – many people just don’t have the water they need. So, I always had an awareness of the importance of water growing up. At university, I studied molecular biology. My final thesis was related to wastewater treatment, and I became fascinated learning about how water and wastewater management works, and how important it is to sustainability and social responsibility.
I didn’t know it at the time, but water would become a focal point of my career and in many ways my life.
After university, I worked in many different areas of water and wastewater – from the Laboratory of Sustainable Technologies at Argentina’s Instituto Nacional Del Agua, to the water and wastewater operations of a large beer company, to teaching sanitation engineering at a large university, to working as a water and wastewater consultant. With each role, my knowledge about water deepened, and I became more passionate about the importance of solving water. Seven years ago, I joined Xylem as a water and wastewater treatment leader.
Q: How has working at Xylem enriched your career in water?
The main reason I joined Xylem was that I was excited to be part of a large global enterprise dedicated to addressing water problems. I soon learned that Xylem also uses its global footprint to help make a big difference for communities in need through our corporate social responsibility program Xylem Watermark. Xylem provides many different ways for employees to get involved in Watermark, including offering paid volunteer time off. I became a Watermark volunteer and leader, and also completed a Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Program at the University of San Andres in Argentina.
When I came to Xylem, I found something I’d been looking for my whole life but didn’t know I wanted and needed – and that’s to work for a company where humanitarian work and volunteerism are at the very heart of who we are and what we do, so I can do more to help make an impact. I’m really proud to work for a company that makes this such a big priority.
Q: You were one of the key architects of the Aquaton program. Can you talk about how it got started?
I became Xylem’s Watermark Ambassador for the Latin America region in 2019. At the time, we wanted to ramp up employee engagement. I’d seen someone on social media who was holding a race to raise money for a water-related cause, and it got me thinking: so many of us run, walk or bike every day. What if we created a way for Xylem colleagues across Latin America and all over the world to fundraise for Watermark through their daily exercise routine? You could do good for others, while also doing something good for yourself.
My Watermark teammates and I worked together to design the Aquaton program, which launched in 2021. Much of the world was still in Covid lockdowns at the time, so Aquaton worked really well because people could get involved and contribute their time from home, just by running, walking or biking and logging their kilometers.
With Xylem donating $1.00 per kilometer, we’ve been able to raise a significant amount of funds to support water access humanitarian projects across the region. It’s a simple, easy and very effective model that’s fun and lets everyone who wants join in.
Q: What has volunteering for Xylem Watermark and working on Aquaton meant to you on a personal level?
It's been so rewarding to see Aquaton go from an idea to a reality, and watch my colleagues across Latin America and beyond come together for such a great cause. I’m really grateful to Xylem for supporting and encouraging us to bring Aquaton to life. Over the past two years, we’ve funded some amazing projects.
For example, we worked with the NGO AVINA to install a rain and harvesting system for a village in the north of Argentina that gets very little rain and faces extreme water scarcity. Today, the solution is helping provide water to hundreds of people who before had to walk at least 10 kilometers a day to get water.
In Peru, we helped a small village high up in the Andes mountains that lacks access to safe water, but experiences very high humidity from fog. With our NGO partner Los Sin Agua, we installed fog catchers, which condensate fog and then transport the water to tanks for community use. Volunteering with Xylem Watermark has enriched my professional journey – and my life – on so many levels.
I’m more inspired than ever to work in water and find new ways to help people get the water they need so they can live safer lives and have better opportunities.
When I was at university, I had no idea at the time where my career would lead me. But when I look back, I can connect the dots. I’m so glad my work as a water professional led me here to Xylem and so glad I chose water.