On the move: Future system operator chair confirmed; Pennon swoops for WWU director

In our latest round-up of industry appointments, the government has confirmed the inaugural chair of the future system operator while another senior appointment has been confirmed at the Electricity System Operator (ESO) ahead of its summer transition. Elsewhere Pennon has brought in a new director of regulation from Wales & West Utilities (WWU) and BP and Shell announce changes to their UK leadership teams.


Former Eon chief executive Paul Golby has been confirmed as the first Chair of the National Energy System Operator (NESO).

He will take up his post on 6 May and oversee the creation of the new body. Once fully established later this year, he will take up appointment as the independent chair of NESO.

The role comes with an annual salary of £220,000-£230,000 pro-rated to two or three days a week, according to the official job poster. The position will be for an initial four-year term.

A mechanical engineer by trade, Golby spent nine years at Eon – then known as PowerGen – as chief executive. He has also served as chair of the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and as a non-executive director of National Grid.

Energy secretary Claire Coutinho said: “Dr Golby brings extensive industry experience and will help our new energy system operator take its important first steps.

“With demand for electricity forecast to double by 2050, and with ambitious net zero goals to hit, this new organisation under his leadership will help us create a modern system that powers Britain with secure, clean energy, and keeps costs low for bill payers.”

Golby, said: “Decarbonising our energy system, whilst ensuring security of supply at an affordable cost, is one of the most important challenges facing the UK.

“I look forward to working with all stakeholders; Government, industry, regulators and community leaders as we continue on this critical journey.”

Ahead of the summer transition to becoming NESO, the ESO has been bolstering its ranks.

The latest appointment sees Rita Wadey promoted to head of energy policy. She has worked at the ESO for more than a decade as a strategic advisor on hydrogen.

As previously reported, the ESO has also filled three director roles in the past weeks.

Matthew Vickers, who led the Energy Ombudsman (now Trust Alliance Group) until December, joins the organisation this month as director of engineering and customer solutions. David Wildash, ESO’s head of customer connections, has been covering this role in an interim capacity.

Rebecca Beresford will join this summer as director of markets. It brings to an end her two decades at EDF, latterly as the company’s director of net zero strategy and policy. Matt Magill, who is in the position on an interim basis, will become resilience director when Beresford joins.

The third appointment is to the newly created role of customer director, which will be filed by Anu Gibson. Gibson spent just under three years at Ovo, firstly as customer experience and complaints director and then as customer inclusion lead, before leaving last month.


Pennon Group has raided Wales and West Utilities (WWU) to bring in Sarah Williams as its new director of regulation, strategy and net zero.

Williams spent just under 19 years at WWU starting as senior manager before being promoted through the ranks to become director of regulation in 2020.

Her latest role at WWU was as director of regulation, asset strategy and health and safety.

Prior to her stint at WWU, Williams worked for Western Power Distribution for nine years.

Announcing her appointment on LinkedIn, Willaims said: “This week has been the start of a new era and I can finally share the news with you of my new appointment.

“I am pleased to say I’ve joined the water industry working for Pennon Group Plc as their group director of regulation, strategy and net zero.

“Its already clear it’s going to be a very busy role but I have met some great people so far and I am certainly looking forward to the challenge.”

Tackling Inclusion and Diversity In Energy (TIDE) network

Two co-chairs have been appointed to lead the TIDE (Tackling Inclusion and Diversity in Energy) programme, which aims to promote positive change in the energy sector’s workforce.

Jane Cooper and Sandisiwe Dhlamini will take over from the inaugural chair Celia Anderson, who stepped down at the end of last year.

The TIDE initiative was launched in 2022, bringing together key partners from across the energy sector including Energy UK, the Energy Institute, ENA and Ofgem. The taskforce’s main purpose is to increase the diversity of the energy sector and ensure inclusion is at the forefront of all policy making.

Cooper began her career as an engineer, working for Rolls Royce and Orange, before spending the past decade working for Danish offshore wind developer Orsted as director of regulatory and stakeholder. She is now an executive director at RenewableUK.

Meanwhile, Dhlamini previously worked in HR for government and is the EDI lead at The Pensions Regulator.

On her appointment Cooper said: ”Sharing leadership with Sandisiwe on such an important topic like EDI is a real privilege.

“TIDE wants the energy sector to mirror the diverse range of people it serves – and that doubly applies to this initiative. Having co-chairs means the voice of TIDE will be twice as loud and active.”

Dhlamini added: “Jane and I come from different backgrounds, but we are both committed to reducing inequalities. There is no shortage of interest, good will or effort in EDI. But often the missing ingredient is clear direction and accountable delivery. We can’t wait to get stuck in and drive positive change across the energy sector through TIDE.”


BP has announced a shake up of its UK retail leadership team with the appointment of Jo Hayward as VP mobility & convenience retail and Natalie Cattermole as senior dealer manager.

BP said these changes will help it to grow its UK retail business.

Tracey Clements, BP’s SVP mobility & convenience Europe, said: “I am delighted to have Jo and Natalie on our UK leadership team.

“They are both fantastic leaders who bring deep customer insight and retail experience to their new roles.

“With this expertise I am sure they will build on the great progress made in recent years to grow and transform our retail business in the UK, helping us to become first choice for customers on the move.”

Hayward, formerly BP’s VP for convenience in Europe, is replacing Sonya Adams who has been appointed chief of staff to BP CEO Murray Auchincloss.

On her appointment Hayward said: “I am looking forward to leading the retail business in one of BP’s key markets and getting to know our team of 6,700 colleagues.

“Safety is my top priority as I come into the role, that means keeping our colleagues safe and ensuring our customers have a great experience every time they visit us.

“I’m also excited about testing some of the new convenience propositions we have been developing to meet customers’ needs across our UK network through the energy transition.”


Shell has announced the appointment of Parminder Kohli as its next UK country chair.

Kohli will replace David Bunch who will move across to head the energy company’s mobility division.

He will also become head of sustainability and carbon from 1 June, following the departure of Jonathan Osborne.

Kohli has worked at Shell for more than two decades holding position’s in the company’s refining, chemicals and mobility operations. He currently heads lubricants in the EMEA region.