Recognising HR excellence

Sarah Salter


A regional water company has been recognised for human resources excellence by being shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Northumbrian Water Limited (NWL), which supplies 2.7 million customers across the North East with water and waste water services, 1.8 million people in Essex and Suffolk with water services and employs 3000 people, has been nominated to be an HR Excellence Awards 2013 finalist.

Sarah Salter, the water company’s HR director, is up against nine other heads of HR from top companies including Marks and Spencer, Ernst & Young, Whitbread, Siemens UK & NW Europe and KFC UK & Ireland, to win the ‘HR Excellence Awards 2013 HR director of the year′ award.

Sarah, who is 48 and has worked for NWL for about two and a half years, is playing a vital role, along with her team, in helping to achieve the company′s vision to be the top water company in the UK. A range of activities aim to encourage and enable the utility’s staff to develop and perform to the best of their ability so that customers receive consistently great service.

This important work is acknowledged by the water company’s CEO, Heidi Mottram: “Sarah is a pleasure to work with, her energy inspires our team, she challenges us all to think differently and her contribution to achieving our vision is undoubted.

“This has been clearly demonstrated by Northumbrian Water reaching 1* in this year’s Sunday Times Best Companies survey, a 10% improvement on our last rating. I would be thrilled if she achieved this award.”

As well as promoting workplace wellbeing in NWL, Sarah’s passion and commitment to enhance the communities the company serves is evident in her approach to her work.

Debbi Christophers, head of community impact, Business in the Community, said: “Sarah is a member of the BITC Champions Group, leading our work on health and wellbeing in the East of England. Her contribution has been unparalleled.

"As well as sharing experience from the Northumbrian Water journey to inspire others, Sarah is always mindful that the economy in the East of England is driven by small and medium enterprises and she is constantly challenging BITC and our statutory sector partners to make our messages, tools and resources accessible and fit for purpose for all businesses. She has been a stalwart supporter of our aim to engage new business on the health and wellbeing agenda.”

The winner of the ‘HR Excellence Awards 2013 HR director of the year’ will be chosen by the highest number of votes and will be announced at a gala awards ceremony to be held on Tuesday July 2nd 2013 at London’s Hilton Hotel.

To find out more about the awards, finalists and to cast a vote, log onto

For further information contact Cara Charlton on 0191 301 6720.

Sarah Salter’s biography

Sarah joined Northumbrian Water as Group HR Director in January 2011. She began her career with Rowntree Mackintosh as a Sales Graduate trainee in the late 1980s, and subsequently moved into the HR function, holding a variety of roles in Rowntree and Nestlé over the next 15 years. She joined Northern Foods in 2002 as HR Director for Cavaghan & Gray, based in Cumbria. From 2006 she was Group HR Director at Places for People, a national property management and development company. She is a fellow of the CIPD.

Since joining Northumbrian Water Sarah has taken on a number of trustee/ advisory roles, including Common Purpose, Beamish Museum and the Excel Academy Partnership. She sits on the leadership team for Business in the Community′s East of England ′Public Health at Work′ campaign, building on her membership of the BiTC national Workwell Leadership council in 2010.

On a personal note Sarah, who is married, hails originally from the north west of England. She has a border terrier puppy and enjoys yoga for inspiration and relaxation.

The HR Excellence Awards

These prestigious awards are run annually by the specialist professional journal, HR Magazine. Whilst most of the awards are entry categories, for the HR Director of the Year award nominations are sought from professional and industry bodies. Nominees are researched by the editorial team and the shortlist is determined by a judging panel, following which shortlisted candidates are notified that they have been nominated and shortlisted. The overall winner is the person receiving most votes via the HR Excellence Awards website.

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