Tony Wright & Paul Howlett
Joint Managing Directors
Wright Corporate Strategy
In the early nineties Tony Wright and Paul Howlett joined a group of like-minded executives determined to reform the way corporations, public agencies and utilities collectively manage the environment – the Environment Management Industry Association of Australia Limited (subsequently Environment Business Australia) was launched by (the then) Prime Minister, and sponsored by successive federal Environment Ministers. Tony and Paul both spent 10 years as a non-executive Directors on the EMIAA/EBA Board, including roles as Chairman and Deputy Chairman, as we worked to develop a world-class Australian environment management industry.
This was a period of great improvement in the way that both public sector agencies and utilities, and private sector waste management firms water operators managed their environmental responsibilities. Tony founded Wright Corporate Strategy Pty Limited in 1993 and Paul joined the firm in 1997. Tony and Paul's purpose is to contribute to the reform agenda as a thoughtful strategic adviser – providing strong policy guidance, informed by diverse experience in both strategic analysis, and operations and reform leadership at the highest levels.
For nearly 20 years now the environment management reform agenda has continued and WCS has been honoured to be at the cutting edge of change in assisting State and Territory Governments across Australia, as well as Local Governments and the Federal Government to bring about change in the way water, waste, and the environment is managed. The WCS contribution has ranged from assignments for individual managers to full-blown State Government Public Inquiries.
I spent 20 years running and reforming government business enterprises – utilities including Sydney Water, Hunter Water, and the NSW railway workshops. During this period I founded the successful utility service provider, Australian Water Technologies. This was a time of determined utility reform across Australia, and I was fortunate to be in a position to drive strategic change in four major government trading enterprises. With responsibility for annual operating budgets up to $1bn and capex budgets of up to $300m, I learned a lot about managing operating reforms, private sector procurement (including PPPs) and public policy under the microscope of political, media, and customer scrutiny.
For 10 earlier years I cut my teeth by contributing to some big national logistics reform issues – including introduction of international freight container shipping methods, and resolving export shipment of Australian meat, dairy products, and wool. I worked on the planning stages of nationally important construction projects, including the redevelopment of the Garden Island Dockyard and Fleet-base.
The experience of long term CEO level leadership and early career lead roles in the analytical basis for various national reforms, gave me a passion for developing and guiding public reform strategy.
Aside from the WCS policy advisory work, I have recently been able to contribute again to water utility development as founding (non-executive) Chairman of State Water Corporation – a role I’ve held for more than six years to date. The Board has guided major reform at State Water in a quest to create a state-of-the-art water corporation. The task has progressed at the time of historic drought level and far reaching Murray-Darling Basin water management reform.
I had the privilege of assisting in regulatory reform over the last 12 years as Deputy Chairman of the NSW EPA Board. Part of my role at the EPA Board has been as Chairman of the NSW State of the Environment Advisory Council for 10 years, and Chairman of the Waste Management subcommittee of the EPA Board.
During this period, I chaired an enviro-technology start-up venture in its formative years.
I have spent forty years in professional practice and gained many insights into the workings of business and government. I sail for my solace and I take this time to develop my visions for supporting the decision making of our colleagues and clients.
In three of the four sectors where I have specialised – mining, underground construction and management of the environment – the regulatory and governance obligations on business are some of the most rigorous of all industry sectors, with particular emphasis on personal safety and the amenity of the community. I have learned from this experience the collateral and unintended consequences on business that poor regulation and badly considered policy can deliver.
Over many years of working with technology and innovation I have been instrumental in helping people to see things in a different perspective, to draw on new advances and ideas that improve performance and effectiveness, and I have been instrumental in pioneering some totally new approaches to mining, underground construction and waste management that have yielded significant benefit in those sectors.
My career has spanned four very different sectors that have significantly expanded both my knowledge and my outlook to now position me strongly to effectively work with our clients in addressing their policy and strategic planning challenges.
Our Continuing Passion
Our passion for reform and improvement in waste management, water, and environment management remains strong. There is much to be done.
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