Liv oversees an organisation that is responsible for providing clean water to and taking away dirty water from around 10 million people in the Midlands area of the UK.
At Severn Trent, Liv, who was born and bred in Harrogate, has responsibility for one of the three largest water utilities in the UK, as well as 2,000 colleagues based in its international water services business.
She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration on Thursday 28 July for her contribution to the professions.
Speaking at her graduation, Liv commented: “I’m truly honoured to receive such an award from Leeds Beckett University. I’m Yorkshire-born-and-bred so to receive such an honour from your home location is twice as special as it possibly could be from anywhere else.”
A University of Cambridge graduate, Liv has enjoyed a hugely successful career at some of the UK’s most high profile companies.
Her first graduate role was at the management consulting services company Accenture. Here, Liv was a consultant in retail and high-tech market practices for five years. The projects gave her multi-sector and international exposure with projects in Chicago and Paris as well as across the UK.
In 2003 she joined British Telecom and held a number of roles motivating sales forces, managing call centres and leading large-scale service provision and repair teams across the UK. She progressed to become Director of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs for the company and, in April 2011, Liv was made Chief Executive of BT’s Openreach division. It was in this role that she led one of the fastest and most ambitious deployments of fibre broadband in the world, taking the technology to two thirds of UK premises 18 months ahead of schedule.
Liv joined Severn Trent Water as Chief Executive in April 2014. In addition to her current role at the helm of Severn Trent Water, she is a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, where she provides high-level advice to senior ministers on critical business and economic issues facing the UK.
Speaking about her most proud career moments to date, Liv said: “It’s always tricky to feel pride: when one person does well it’s typically because all the people they worked with did an amazing job. If I had to choose a couple of things I’ve done collectively I would say first is introducing fiber to the UK: I think broadband is imperative for everybody. The second thing is making sure we have continue to have the cheapest bills in the land at Severn Trent, enabling our customers to afford them.
“My tips for any future graduate are: to think big, to be massively enthusiastic about everything you do, and to literally aim for the stars. If you work hard, you’ll be amazed what you can achieve. To be successful today in business, you’ve got to believe in yourself and you’ve got to be yourself: that is it.”
Leeds Beckett University Chancellor, Sir Bob Murray CBE, said: “Liv Garfield has built an enviable and inspiring career, working for leading names and spearheading innovative and groundbreaking projects across the UK and on an international level.
“We are delighted to recognise Liv’s vast contribution to the professions and business with this Honorary Doctorate. As one of the youngest women ever to lead a FTSE 100 company, her achievements are inspiring, not just to our students and graduates, but to aspiring business people everywhere.”