Veolia is a company founded at the dawn of the industrial era and the start of urban development and focused on water, waste, energy management and transport. As urban development changes continuously, the question for the future is how 8 billion of people on the planet and "half of them in urban environments" will impact: water, waste energy and transport.
Looking forward requires first of all looking back.
The company was founded in 1853 as CGE - Compagnie Générale des Eaux by an imperial decree with the goal to irrigate and offer water supply to urban areas. A few years later (1867) the added business was to clear streets of sewage and waste. A century later (1967) the company began operating its first waste incinerators. New business development was focus on energy saving (during the energy crisis of 1973) and in 1986 the first waste drop-off centers arrived. In 1998 CGE becomes Vivendi and a years later Vivendi Environnement was created to consolidate all environmental activities, which were managed from different entities: Vivendi Water (Water), Onyx (Waste Management), Dalkia (Energy) and Connex (Transportation). In 2000 the company got listed on the Paris stock exchange by an initial public stock offering and in 2003 Vivendi environment becomes an independent company under a new name: Veolia environment.
This name (Veolia) is derived from Aeolus, the keeper of the winds in Greek mythology... The reference to air is heightened by the first letter of the name, "V", which is the first letter of the French word for the wind ("vent"). The wind, which is always on the move, clean, transparent and rapid, is also a force symbolizing all our activities. (1)
What is so unique about this company and the environmental business?
Environmental services are most of all local!
Veolia is committed to conserving the (quality of) "blue gold" (water) of the 21st century and it is focused on greenhouse gas reduction.
Some figures, Veolia has:
- 320,000 employees.
- 32.6 billion in consolidated revenue in 2007 of which per division:
- Transport: 17%, Water 34%, Energy 21% and Environmental services 28%.
The energy division is still labeled separately under the name Dalkia. New activities are: wind energy, green fuel and home services.
The Workforce by grade(2):
- Managers 8.5%
- Supervisory / technical 15,3%
- White collar 11,6 %
- Blue color / operatives 64,6%
Growth by diversity: Because of the "local" business model the company "boasts" a wide-ranging cultural, economic and social diversity. Employing people from more than a hundred nationalities.
The company is research-intensive with seven (7) major areas of expertise:
Water: resource protection, water and wastewater treatment.
Energy: energy solutions to reduce consumption and combat climate change.
Waste Management: waste treatment and recovery.
Transportation: logistics, electronic ticketing and payment, clean vehicles and new services.
Analysis: steering analytical research and coordinating a network of laboratories.
Health: assessment of health risks and benefits for specific population groups (employees, users and consumers, and residents near facilities) associated with company activities.
Environment: steering research programs on water resource management and protection, environmental modeling, and the evaluation of risks and environmental impacts (LCA).
Finally the corporate values which show on the website:
- Customer Focus (... listen ... anticipate and adapt to client needs)
- Responsibility (never forget how our business affects our employees and society)
- Innovation (continuously improving our environmental solutions)
- Performance (... financial discipline at every level)
- Team Work (... a shared victory)
Interesting about these values is first that the customer is the local client as the environmental business is global but business-wise: local. This makes the solution diverse and the challenge is to scale the environmental business in such a diversified "environment." Teamwork is then a key success-factor. Performance ...
The main challenge is the reconciliation of the decentralized sales effort (local environment business) with a more centralized engineering and research business.