Top of main content

Thames Water appoints Francis Paonessa as its new Capital Delivery Director

Monday 19th April 2021 13:00

A man wearing a dark blue jacket and a pink shirt

Francis Paonessa will join Thames Water as its new Capital Delivery Director next week following John Bentley’s decision to leave the business.

The appointment, which follows the recent recruitment of Warren Buckley as Retail Director and Cathryn Ross into a newly-created Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Director position, is another important step in building a strong leadership team to transform the service Thames Water provides to its customers, communities and the environment.

Francis will start on April 26 and arrives from business and strategy consultancy Aczel, where he has been advising clients since 2019 on a number of high profile projects in the defence and infrastructure sectors.

He was previously managing director of infrastructure projects at Network Rail and was accountable for delivering £25 billion of major renewal and enhancement schemes over the five year regulatory period.

This amounted to 22% of all new infrastructure delivered in the UK during that time. He also raised the organisation’s project management capability to be internationally benchmarked as leading the transport sector worldwide.

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water CEO, said: “I would like to thank John Bentley for his contribution to Thames Water. He has been a hugely committed and valued member of the Executive team and will be greatly missed.

“We’re delighted Francis will be joining Thames Water. He has an impressive track record of initiating and then executing, to time and to cost, large and complex infrastructure projects across a range of sectors.

“He will also bring a great depth of engineering experience and excellence which will be critical as we look to grow and nurture our company’s engineering capabilities.

“These skillsets are just what we need as we start a major new programme of investment in both our water and waste businesses. Francis will help Thames Water provide its customers with the resilient and reliable service they deserve.”

Francis added: “I’m very excited to be joining the Thames Water team. The company provides an essential service to over 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley. A reliable and resilient water and waste network is a critical part of this service.

“Significant investment is required over the coming years and decades to ensure these networks can meet the challenges of population growth and climate change. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to deliver this investment and ensure Thames Water customers have the best possible service.”

Before Network Rail, Francis spent four years at Bombardier, the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of rail vehicles, where he held a number of positions – including the managing director of its UK business.

Reading-born Francis‘ early career was at Vosper Thornycroft, the military shipbuilder. His time at VT culminated in his appointment as managing director of the Portsmouth shipbuilding facility.

John Bentley will continue to lead the Capital Delivery team until Francis starts, and will stay at the company until May 25 to enable a comprehensive handover.