Welcoming Mark Julio and Matt Kovic

Meet Our Newest Team Members: Welcoming Mark Julio, Isle Group CFO, and Matt Kovic, Head of Industry

Meet Our Newest Team Members: Welcoming Mark Julio, Isle Group CFO, and Matt Kovic, Head of Industry

We catch up with Mark Julio, Isle Group’s new CFO and Matt Kovic, Head of Industry (North America)

The past few months have seen exciting change at Isle. In February, we announced a new partnership with Palatine PE, leaders in sustainable investment. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with dynamic investors who share our passion for doing good in the world. Palatine shares our vision of possibility when it comes to helping businesses navigate their water and energy transition away from fossil fuels and towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.

We began April with exciting news – welcoming Mark Julio as our new Chief Financial Officer. Mark barely had time to settle in before we sought him out to discuss his experience and plans for the future, which we’re excited to share with you here. We’re also very pleased to welcome Matt Kovic as Head of Industry (North America) to Isle. Our Industry team is going from strength to strength and Matt will lead activities to help companies across the US and Canada invest in and bolster their water sustainability efforts. We caught up with Matt and will share our conversation later on in the blog.

Mark, welcome to Isle! It’s a pleasure to have you and thanks for taking time so early in your role to sit down and talk with us. You come to us from ICAS World where you were Group CFO. What attracted you to the role at Isle?

MJ: I was attracted to a company that is making a difference and positively impacting one of our most sacred resources. I grew up in a water stressed area, and know only too well the importance of water conservation and not to take water as given.

What are you most excited about in your new role?

MJ: The chance to make a difference to everyone through improving processes and systems, so that everyone can focus on delivering the best output for each of our customers.

Having led finance teams across six countries, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about fostering a collaborative and inclusive team culture?

MJ: People and teams drive any business. Listen to everyone and be inclusive to everyone’s opinions, lead from the front and set a good example for all to follow.

Your previous role was at a company that specializes in mental health in the workplace. What insights or effective practices did you identify that could help enhance an organization’s approach to mental health and wellbeing?

MJ: That people are the most important part of any organization, and that mental health can, and does, impact a lot of people in different ways. Be open to the issues and the challenges it can present and provide the support to the teams.

In today’s rapidly changing financial landscape, what do you see as the biggest challenge and opportunity for organizations beginning their water and energy environmental transition journey?

MJ: I think the biggest challenge is getting all concerned parties onboard and working to find a solution. Many people still think there is no challenge! The opportunity is that if we all just did a little, it would make a huge global impact, so the opportunity is to start the journey, and to start making a difference!

How can a finance team influence other departments to adopt more sustainable practices within an organization?

MJ: As part of overall financial reporting, we aim to include reporting on sustainability. As we gather this information across the business, this can also be fed back to all the teams so that each team can understand for example their own carbon footprint. Through this feedback, other departments can look to be more sustainable.

Can you share an example from a past role where you successfully implemented a financial strategy that also benefited the environment?

MJ: In my prior role, we implemented new optical character recognition (OCR) technology across the financial systems, thereby reducing the requirement to print out all invoices as a financial record, as they were all stored electronically and thereby reducing our environmental impact footprint.

Regulations around sustainability and environmental reporting are evolving. How do you stay ahead of these changes and ensure a company can not only comply but lead in environmental reporting?

MJ: Ongoing CPD is part of my profession and I stay ahead of these changes through CPD programmes. There has been a significant shift in reporting on climate and sustainability. From the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework to the now S1 and S2 standards set by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB, part of the IFRS Foundation which sets accounting standards globally and adopted in the UK), reporting on sustainability has arrived.

I believe we need to align our reporting to all our stakeholders and ensure that we are leading from the front in terms of sustainability and how we disclose this. This, however, is not an easy, nor quick task, and we will need to implement new processes and systems to achieve this, but it certainly is a key goal of mine that we are reporting under S1 and S2 (and any other new reporting standards) within the near future. As a private company, if we adopt these reporting standards, we would most certainly be leading corporate reporting within the UK, as many private companies will not adopt these standards.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about – and how does that influence your professional life?

MJ: My family and travel. I love spending time with my kids and playing sport with them (Mostly cricket and golf) and also traveling to new parts of the world to experience something new! (I never travel to the same place twice!) In a professional perspective, I think it influences how I work in a team and also that bringing new ideas to the company can have a huge positive impact (my pet hate line is: But we did it like that last year!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Mark. We’re excited to have you on board and look forward to catching up again soon.

Now to turn to Industry news. This week has seen some major announcements for US industry and utilities, not least the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s move to tackle PFAS or “forever chemicals”. Last week the EPA finalized Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for six PFAS in drinking water with the aim of protecting communities from PFAS exposure. You can read an excellent LinkedIn post by Isle’s own global PFAS expert Lauren Former here which details why this is such a landmark standard. Alongside regulation, there is growing public awareness of the dangers of PFAS in the US and further afield. Slowly, a handful of companies are voluntarily breaking away from reliance on PFAS entirely and replacing them with less harmful alternatives. There’s a long way to go but it’s encouraging to see positive change afoot.

When it comes to US Industry we’re really pleased to be welcoming Matt Kovic to his new role as Head of Industry (North America). Matt, who’s based in Florida and oversees our operations in the US and Canada, comes to us from Homeyer Consulting Services. He’s an experienced chemist and well-versed at providing industrial water treatment consulting. We sat down with Matt to talk about his plans for the future and the challenges he sees as most pressing in the industry.

What attracted you to join our company and specifically work within the Americas region?

MK: I was first made aware of the Isle Group by a recruiter on LinkedIn. As is normally the case, I was prepared to ignore the message, however once I took the opportunity to investigate the firm, I was very interested in their focus on technology innovation. Water is coming into focus as a scarce resource in many parts of the world, and this issue will only worsen with time. A forward-thinking, innovative mentality will pave the way for a future of water security, and Isle embodies this ethos at its heart.

What aspect excites you the most about spearheading our expansion efforts within industry in the Americas?

MK: The United States and Canada are major players on the world stage, and initiatives made by organizations in these countries often spearhead global efforts. It is imperative that we help sway companies and organizations in North America to invest in water sustainability in the long-term. There is a lot of opportunity for a firm such as ours to make a big impact.

What do you think the biggest challenge is that faces the diverse needs in Industry right now?

MK: Aging infrastructure is not only a problem for government and utilities, but industrial organizations as well. Corporations must constantly reinvest to modernize their manufacturing operations while considering budgetary concerns. Isle is well-suited to play a part in this strategic investment to help industrial partners understand the best way forward that maintains their production capabilities while emphasizing a sustainable resource use growth model.

What are you most looking forward to as you begin this new chapter with our company?

MK: Isle is expanding rapidly, owing to their partnerships with organizations that trust in our expertize. I look forward to helping spread awareness of our firm so that our positive impact can reach the companies and organizations that would most benefit from working with us. As the challenge of water sustainability becomes more prominent over time, I am also waiting to see how the industrial market will continue to react.

Thanks for your time Matt, it’s a pleasure to have you on board. We can’t wait to hear how the US Industry team is shaping up – please keep us in the loop with your progress.

A big thank you to Mark and Matt for sharing their insight with us. We look forward to sharing more of their work as they settle into their new roles. In the meantime, connect with Mark Julio and Matt Kovic on LinkedIn, and see how Isle’s Industry team is already helping businesses solve some of the most pressing environmental and sustainability challenges.

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