Kerry Schott: the inside story of ICAC, lobbying and Australian Water Holdings

When Kerry Schott, then CEO of Sydney Water, found herself up against well connected private lobbying, it was the public interest that prevailed. Here she tells her story, and the principles of ethical leadership that got her through it.

Since my ICAC experiences people in the street and even restaurants have come up to me and congratulated me for standing up against corruption.

Its nice to be recognized but I do feel rather disconcerted about it. I have unexpectedly gained saintly status, but the reality is I am more like a hologram that the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the media have created.

When I became CEO at Sydney Water in 2006 I found that some principles were ingrained. As in other parts of the public service we had a job to do and what that job was, was very clear: make sure people had good quality drinking water all the time and making sure that the sewerage system worked. No cajoling was ever needed to get people to do these jobs and people felt proud to do them.

Another laudable feature of Sydney Water was the conviction that no one should ever lie or omit information that was relevant when briefing the minister, the board, or the CEO. And colleagues understood that honesty applied to their work and to each other.

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