Rising Stars

The Institute of Water Rising Stars Programme brings together a collection of unique opportunities designed to develop the skills of young professionals.

About IWater’s Rising Stars

This tailor-made Programme encourages young professionals to take charge of organising site visits, grow their communicative abilities, increase their confidence, and connect with industry leaders.


Our past Rising Stars cohorts and employers have credited the Programme with helping them secure jobs, enhance their skill set, build their network and increase their future employability opportunities.


Each year, through an application process, we select 8 IWater members who have shown both the potential and an appetite to progress within the water sector.

Rising Stars Testimonials

“This is a great programme that I highly recommend. No other programme at this stage of your career can see you having valuable discussions with CEO’s or other influential people within our sector. The technical insights, meetings with regulators plus the network I have built this year would not have been possible any other way. Also, you will make some great friends in your fellow Rising Stars!”


Dan Cassidy, 2023 Rising Star and Water Technical Officer (West Cumbria), United Utilities

“Rising Stars is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have had opportunities I wouldn’t usually experience; my network has grown, my knowledge has expanded and I have made friends for life.”


Grace Wilson, 2022 Rising Star and Major Infrastructure Assistant Project Manager, Anglian Water

“The Rising Star programme has been a massive boost to my confidence and has opened up a lot of new learning opportunities for me.”


Abbie Mowat, 2022 Rising Star, and Management Sytems Lead, Scottish Water

“Rising Stars has opened my eyes to everything that is going on in the water industry but the best thing has been meeting several other like-minded people across the UK I have been able to count on for support.”


Anna Figueras Carril, 2020 Rising Star and Laboratories Team Leader, Scottish Water

“The fantastic thing about the programme is it allows the Rising Stars to go and see other companies and how they do things and bring great ideas back.”


Susannah Clements, Director of People & Change, Anglian Water

How to apply

Applications are now closed for 2023. Applications will open again in October 2024.


To apply, you must be someone with:

– A full individual Institute of Water membership

– An employer who will support their involvement

– An early stage water sector career

– An appetite for professional development



Meet our Rising Stars of 2023


Emma Sherburn

Graduate Asset Management Consultant, Mott MacDonald

Emma is working predominantly in carbon management and net zero for the water sector. She works across a range of projects from existing asset upgrades to water resources management plans (WRMPs) and strategic resource options (SROs) to develop carbon assessments, net zero strategies, and workshops that inform optioneering and investment decisions. Emma is also working in the policy space supporting stakeholders to understand net zero for the water sector and the impacts of future policy and investments on net zero.

Her journey in the water sector started with an undergraduate internship at Anglian Water researching pollution incidence and supporting the Keep It Clear team. This was followed by a further internship at Global Water Intelligence researching the cost of water and provision of services around the world. Emma then returned to Anglian Water, as part of her master’s degree sponsorship at Imperial, where she worked in their Innovation Discovery team.

Emma volunteers as a Trustee at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and is supporting youth engagement across other wildlife trusts as part of this. She is a keen rower, runs a badminton club for her colleagues and enjoys any opportunity to be in nature.

Emma’s message to the water industry:

The water sector faces increasing challenges and collaboration of resources and shared attention to those difficulties is essential. The sector can often be siloed with expertise, solutions and time frames targeted at a specific problem but bringing together stakeholders, from within and outside the water sector, offers a great opportunity as we tackle environmental and socio-economic challenges. I look forwards to engaging with people across the water sector and will endeavor to use what I learn to work with the water sector in its future challenges.

Kathryn Evans

Civil Engineer, Arup

Kathryn is a Civil Engineer based in Arup’s Cardiff office. In 2019, she graduated from Loughborough University with an MEng in Civil Engineering and subsequently joined Arup later that year. Her current role focuses on the Storm Overflow Assessment Framework (SOAF) project in Wales, which aims to investigate and resolve high spilling storm overflows in order to deliver improved local water quality. In addition, Kathryn also helps to investigate the wider benefits that SOAF projects can provide to the local environments and communities across Wales through green solutions. Kathryn also gives hydraulic wastewater modelling support for several sewer catchment studies, which seek to alleviate pressures on key assets.

Kathryn has quickly become a vital part of the Arup water team as she has a keen eye for detail, excellent analytical and modelling skills. She also has a passion for visual communication as she has the innate ability to transform technical information into something which everyone can appreciate and understand which has been crucial when presenting to clients.

Prior to joining Arup, Kathryn was a site engineer for a construction company and she worked across multiple sectors across the UK including nuclear, rail and highways. Outside of work, Kathryn is passionate about collaborating with young water professionals in the water industry and she is also a talented artist.

Kathryn’s message to the water industry:

Collaboration is crucial for the water industry to overcome current and future challenges. By breaking down siloes, sharing knowledge and working together, we can innovate and adapt to meet our goals whilst delivering the best service to our customers. Communication is critical in order to achieve this, as a society we desperately need nature positive outcomes from our infrastructure investment, this set against austerity poses many future challenges. Fostering a culture of collaboration, partnership working, shared visions and shared goals will play a bigger role than ever.

Mia Tarrant

Hub Process Scientist, Severn Trent

Mia’s career began in 2021 with South Staffs Water as a Water Treatment Scientist. Her role involves ensuring water quality compliance and optimisation across the northern production units, extending to the greater South Staffs Water and Cambridge Water regions during her time on standby. She achieves this by analysing SCADA telemetry data, sampling, internal laboratory testing and data acquisition and analysis. Other responsibilities include tank/reservoir inspections and engagement wsith projects, providing a water quality perspective and advice throughout. Currently she is working on the commissioning phase of long-term project adding second-stage filtration to the treatment works.

Over the next year, she is hoping to gain a deeper understanding of other sectors within the water industry to both improve her own comprehension and to be able to bring back this wider knowledge to her water quality team at SSW, the business as a whole and any future team she may be given the chance to work with.

Mia is passionate about enthusing future generations of scientists and women in the industry and hopes to get involved in the Young Persons Network and Women’s Network. In her spare time, she loves to get outdoors hiking and traveling, learning about other cultures and seeing new places.

Mia’s message to the water industry:

Although I am within the water quality team, through various projects and the regular upkeep and maintenance of our treatment sites, I have learned that cross-departmental cooperation makes for the most successful project outcomes and best results for our work. By continually collaborating we can ensure we promote the sharing of issues, and their solutions, to build on our resilience in the face of our turbulent future for water and the natural environment.

Dan Cassidy

Water Technical Officer, United Utilities 

Dan was brought up in the North West of England in a place called Leigh. When Dan left school he signed up for the RAF, which saw him working all over the world. After 11 years in the military, Dan decided that he wanted to be at home more and he started looking for jobs in the North West. Dan secured a position as a Process Controller (Clean Water) with United Utilities where he was sent to college and began his water journey. He found it fascinating that so much actually goes into creating and treating the consistent, safe, and clean water that everyone relies on. Since joining the industry, Dan has found that it is a welcoming place and that in general; everyone is extremely supportive of his personal development – he has had some excellent mentors.


Dan’s message to the water industry:

Dan is excited to be a part of the Rising Star Programme and sees it as a great opportunity to learn more about the wider industry, be involved in the latest discussions, and see how innovative solutions are being explored to address the challenges facing the industry. Dan is especially looking forward to the discussions with his fellow Rising Stars about how they approach various tasks in their particular sectors.

Isla Jones

Scientist, Scottish Water

Isla began her career in the water industry in 2021 as a Science Intern at Scottish Water upon graduating from Heriot-Watt University with a First-Class BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences. For her efforts, she was offered a position as a Scientist within their multifunctional water testing laboratory.

Isla is now a trained analyst performing both chemical (pH, colour, turbidity, conductivity) and microbiological (including Coliforms and E. coli) analysis, providing a crucial service to ensure public health and protect the environment. Her technical knowledge and strong troubleshooting skills enable her to successfully train others in analytical chemistry methods, promoting the development of her colleagues. Working within a UKAS accredited laboratory, she enjoys the quality aspects of her role – she is skilled in non-conformance investigations and aims to embed changes to help continually improve working practices. Isla has a strong commitment to professional development and strives to obtain Professional Registration with the Institute of Water soon.

Isla’s message to the water industry:

As we face upcoming challenges, the need to innovate and transform how we work as an industry is imperative. We must be receptive to change and open to sharing knowledge between colleagues, companies, and customers – involving and inspiring our customers to make the right choices will support us in achieving our goals. I believe that enjoying our work and taking pride in the progress we are making is important in the challenging times that lie ahead.

Sian Walker

Engineer, WSP

Sian’s journey in the water sector started initially with an Industrial Placement year at WSP (formerly Mouchel) in 2016 as part of the Clean Water Asset Management team. This was followed by a further summer placement, and Sian returned to the team at WSP as a Graduate Engineer in 2018, followed by Assistant Engineer and a recent promotion to Engineer in 2022.

Sian is working predominantly on Northern Ireland Water projects and works across a range of projects such as Water Impact Assessments of new developments, High Demand Modelling and Watermains Rehabilitation. A key part of Sian’s career recently has been to create and develop Client relationships within these projects, holding and attending meetings and workshops regularly, coordinating site visits and motivating and supporting junior members of staff.

Sian has been a member of the Northern Ireland Area Institute of Water Committee for three years, having held the role of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Representative and this year has also taken on responsibility as the NI Area YPN Rep. Over the next year Sian is excited to gain a deeper understanding of the areas of the Water Industry she does not work in.

Sian’s message to the Water industry: 

Looking forward the Water Industry will face many challenges it is essential that we face these with a innovative and collaborative approach. However, it will be essential that as an industry we take the time to educate the wider population on the environmental and socio-economic impacts, and how making better choices and supporting the industry initiatives will benefit the world for years to come.

Amy Wernham

Resilient Customer Manager: Customer Experience and Strategy, South East Water 

Amy started her career in the water industry in June 2021 when she joined South East Water as the Water Efficiency Lead. Amy had just completed her degree in Comparative Literature with a Year in Journalism and she had previously worked in customer transformation in the retail banking industry. Amy was looking for a role with variety, focusing on sustainability and bringing in my skills in customer behavioural change initiatives. The water industry wasn’t something she was searching for but when she saw the role it captured everything she was looking for, with the added bonus that she loves water!

Amy’s current role as Resilient Customer Manager brings together the water efficiency delivery programme and the vulnerability and affordability strategies, along with the Resilient Customer Strategy. Amy works collaboratively across sectors, water companies, local authorities and third sector groups to develop and deliver strategic objectives.

Amy works on a variety of projects which impact customers directly, improve customer experience and drive behavioural change to reduce per capita consumption. Amy also works on community and stakeholder engagement to increase the number of customers on our Priority Services Register and support tariffs. Amy also works with local councils to implement our innovative data sharing agreements which automatically enrol customers onto our support schemes. Amy led on an innovative project to deliver a water efficiency website for children called AquaSmart which promotes water saving behaviours within the home and raises awareness of the environmental benefits to reducing water usage. This is currently live for everyone to access across the UK and is now being tested with local schools in our area. Amy loves the variety of her role, working to develop both the strategy and delivery programme to best support our customers.

Amy’s message to the Water industry: 

Collaboration across different sectors and the industry is key to everything we are doing, by working together we will continue to raise awareness of all the hard work we do as an industry to support customers and the local environment. I look forward to meeting and connecting with others through this programme. I’m also very passionate about bringing others into the water industry. I do not have a technical background but this role was the perfect fit for me and there are so many transferrable skills that are relevant to all the processes that we do. I would love to be able to inspire others to come into the industry.

Gulshen Unveren

Assistant Project Manager, Pell Frischmann

Gulshen has worked on a diverse set of projects including energy efficiency, operational optimisation and renewable asset design. She has also designed the delivery strategy for EV Infrastructure Implementation at Pennon Group sites and has been leading the EV Infrastructure deployment across the business.

Prior to joining SWW she worked for KWR, Water Research Institute and Delivered a UNESCO Project on Water and Waste Water Treatment practices in Lagos, Nigeria. Her research was utilised by both KWR and UNESCO, to identify areas of improvement and opportunities for investment in the region. This invaluable experience in international research and project management provided vital technical knowledge of the water sector which she continues to build upon through her current role.

Having a background in Energy and Carbon, she is passionate about the adoption of innovative technologies and practices to aid in making the water industry self-sufficient. She believes that energy efficiency is the key to a more sustainable future for the water industry. Outside of work she enjoys playing tennis, dancing, and reading. She is passionate about travelling and is greatly fascinated by the diversity of our world.

Glushen’s message to the Water industry: 

With the changing climate and increased pressure to improve our environmental footprint, water industry is required to collaborate and cooperate more than ever. Having vast opportunities to intensify the processes, improve the energy efficiency and optimise the operations, water industry is required to find innovative approaches to operational management. We can only succeed if we work together, learn from our experiences, and adopt diverse methodologies to overcome our ever-occurring challenges. Therefore, having had a siloed past, this is the time for water industry to come together and act as a unit.

Our Latest Rising Stars Posts

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November 15, 2022

By Abbie Mowatt After an exhilarating first in-person event at Severn Trent, the 2022 Rising Stars were joined by some…

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November 15, 2022

The 2022 cohort of Rising Stars attended the postponed Utility Week Awards 2021 in London at the Grosvenor House Hotel…

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Contact Us

If you have any questions about the Rising Stars Programme, please get in touch via info@instituteofwater.org.uk or 0191 422 0088 and a member of our dedicated team will be happy to help.