Leadership

The SWAN Forum is governed by its Executive Council and Management Team.

SWAN Council

Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson, Chairman

Ken Thompson has 38 years of experience in the industry and is a Senior Technology Fellow for Jacobs in their Denver Office. He serves as the Global Technology Leader for IoT and Smart Sensors for the Jacobs Digital Solutions Team, which includes the design and implementation of smart systems for water, wastewater and other sectors. Ken has also managed or served as the technical lead in many Surveillance and Response systems and water quality optimization projects for several U.S. clients. Prior to joining Jacobs, Ken worked for public utilities in water, wastewater, recycled water system operations, process evaluation, water quality, and regulations.

Nav Otal

Nav Otal has over 20 years’ experience in utility management, fiscal and strategic planning, and policy development in the public sector. She has been the Director of Utilities for the City of Bellevue, WA (U.S.) for 7 years and was the Deputy Director for 6 years prior to that, overseeing Engineering, Operations and Maintenance, and Resource Management and Customer Service. Prior to coming to the City, Nav worked as a researcher in the field of cancer endocrinology at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from University of British Columbia and a Master’s degree in business administration from City University.

Rik Thijssen

Rik Thijssen has over 25 years of experience in innovation and business development in several sector including 9 years in the water utility domain. He is leading the business development department at Vitens, the largest water utility in the Netherlands serving 5.4 million customers. In addition to his responsibility in establishing Vitens’ smart grid infrastructure, Rik is leading also innovative programs on customer technology, sustainability and circular economy. Rik holds a BSc in microbiology, a Business administration & Business strategy degree from the Academy of Management (IBO-University Groningen) and finished the Leading Digital Transformation & Innovation programme at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.

Scott Branum

Scott has worked in the water industry for over 21 years. His experience includes end-to-end process water management, treatment and conservation. He is now Senior Manager for the newly formed Digital Business Solutions group at Evoqua Water Technologies. This team develops smart water products and IoT solutions for Evoqua’s digital transformation strategy. Scott holds a BS in Biochemistry from Auburn University.

Amir Peleg

Amir Peleg

Amir was involved in the foundation of SWAN back in 2010 and is the Founder and CEO of TaKaDu, a leader in Integrated Event Management solutions for the water industry. TaKaDu provides water utilities with an IoT cloud-based solution for managing the life-cycle of all network issues, improving network efficiency. A serial entrepreneur, Amir founded YaData in 2005, serving as CEO until the company’s acquisition by Microsoft in 2008. In 1999, he founded Cash-U (later named Unipier). Amir holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MBA from INSEAD.

Manuel Parra

Manuel Parra

Manuel Parra is the Business Development Director, Software Solutions – Americas at AVEVA, a thought leader in the water utility industry that is at the forefront of developing technology that advances the Smart Water Networks concept. Manuel has become an avid and active voice in the smart water networks space and has authored numerous articles, white-papers and presentations on various smart water topics. He has a degree in Business Administration from the University of Murcia (Spain) and a B.A. in European Business from Manchester Metropolitan University (UK).

Keith Hilson

Keith Hilson

Keith Hilson is Head of Customer Relations at i2O Water, recognised as one of the industry’s foremost smart water network experts. Keith has spent the past 20 years working for water utilities and technology companies supplying the water industry. He joins i2O from Sensus, where he was responsible for the smart water network company’s pre-sales activity. Keith was Head of Leakage at South East Water from 2008 to 2014, where his team of 60 internal staff and contractors made extensive use of data and pressure management technologies to reduce leakage levels and drive significant operational and environmental savings.

SWAN Management Team

Amir Cahn, Executive Director

Amir joined SWAN in 2013 and has been instrumental in growing the organisation into the leading global hub for the smart water sector. Throughout his time, he has helped engage members, create innovative research tools such as the SWAN Interactive Architecture Tool and SWAN Research Portal, as well as launch the SWAN North American Alliance. Amir has also published articles on behalf of SWAN in the Journal AWWA, Australian Water Management Review, and Water and Sewerage Journal. Before joining SWAN, Amir completed a dual-master’s degree in Environmental Science and Public Affairs from Indiana University. He is also now pursuing a PhD focused on the role of Data-as-a-Service on integrated urban sewershed management.

Shirley Ben-Dak, Marketing & Innovation Lead

Shirley joined SWAN in 2016 to lead the organisation’s marketing activities. She also serves as the Head of Global Initiatives at S.U.iT.S, Smarter Urban & IT Strategies, an urban integrator founded to promote smart urbanism & civic smartness in Israel and across developing and emerging markets. Before joining SWAN, Shirley led international capacity building programs and trainings on sustainable development and completed an M.Sc. degree in Sustainability Management from Columbia University. 

Liora Hostyk, Research Analyst

Liora joined SWAN in 2018 as a research analyst and support staff. Prior to joining SWAN, Liora worked for several years as an environmental consultant in the environment and health division of Ramboll, a leading global engineering consultancy. She holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Policy from Barnard College, Columbia University and a masters degree in Environmental Studies from Tel Aviv University.

Jen Steart

Jen Steart, Financial Controller

Jen is a CIMA Qualified Accountant who has been working with the SWAN Forum since 2012 providing support with invoicing, payments, cash-flow, banking and financial reporting. She currently works as a Management Accountant for i2O who she has been with for 5 years.