Charles V. Firlotte

President & CEO, Aquarion Company

Charles “Chuck” Firlotte is President and Chief Executive Officer of Aquarion Company, the seventh largest investor-owned water utility in the USA, serving Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Chuck has lived and worked in his native Canada, the US, and the United Kingdom, and has had significant knowledge of environmental issues in Asia, having served on the board of an equipment technology supplier to the clean and waste water industry in China. He is past President of the National Association of Water Companies, based in Washington, D.C

Beginning his career in labor relations and human resource management, Chuck early on identified that people and process were instrumental in sustaining long-term profitability.  His success in impacting efficiency led to his recruitment to the U.S, and eventually, England. Under his leadership, Aquarion Company has led all regulated utilities in the State of Connecticut in customer service for seven successive years, and the company consistently places in Hearst Newspapers’ “Top Places to Work.”  Under his leadership Aquarion won the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award, the State equivalent of the prestigious national Baldrige Award for excellence in efficiency and service delivery.

Known for his visionary and strategic skills, Chuck is a frequent speaker on the role of technology as a key enabler of operational efficiency, and on the critical need for infrastructure investment in the U.S. and Canada. Chuck presently serves on the Board of NB Power, an electric utility in Eastern Canada, and  has also served in a leadership capacity on a number of boards of not-for-profit organizations, including the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the  Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

Content by this Author

  • Customer Experience: Where’s the Love?

    More service providers than enough fail to comprehend that the customer experience is a blend of the human interaction and the emotions that are evoked and measured against the customer’s expectations. It’s a function of process and people, and both sides need to be addressed to ensure superior service delivery.    Read More >
  • Why Too Many New Managers Fail

    Over the past three decades, I have promoted scores of individuals into management positions -- often with disappointing results in the early years, despite a seemingly rigorous selection process. It’s not that these folks were abject failures in their new managerial roles. It’s just that too few of them displayed the level of excellence that had earned them the promotion in the first place.   Read More >
  • When Behavior Trumps Performance

    The truth is, when troubling behavior is not addressed, it eats at the organization like a cancer. Teamwork, the “esprit de corps,” and the cultural health of the organization are sacrificed at the altar of productivity. “Oh that’s just Susan!” one of my former peers used to say of a colleague who alienated everyone in her wake. “She ruffles a lot of feathers, but my God nobody delivers like she can.” As fate would have it, Susan eventually came to work in my department, and soon she learned I governed by a different code than what she had been used to. And while I put an abundance of energy into working with her and getting her to appreciate the negative impact of her behavior, I was never successful in so doing. We parted company some time later.  Read More >
  • Where Have All the Managers Gone?

    It was and still remains disheartening to see how few managers seem interested in “managing” -- doing the day-to-day work of motivating employees, setting them on the right path, making time for them one-on-one, and keeping them accountable. “Management” and “manager” have become quaint bywords for an old-fashioned way of running a business. People instead worship at the altar of leadership, on the misguided assumption that all any of us needs to do is “be our self” and let the brilliant light we shed cause others to follow.   Read More >
  • The CEO’s Dirty Little Secret: The HR Exec Need Not Apply for My Job

    Why aren’t chief human resources officers given the same respect as fellow members of the C-Suite? The HR Chief may have a seat at the table, but not much of a voice. This is perhaps never more apparent than when the subject of succession must be addressed by the CEO and the board. When members of the C-Suite are evaluated for CEO succession potential, 99 times out of 100 they look right past the HR executive.  Read More >
  • Requiem for the Annual Performance Review? Not So Fast…

    The year was 1981, and I had just been hired by Combustion Engineering in Ottawa as a fledgling HR staffer. The annual performance review quickly became the bane of my existence; it was clear managers were not taking the process seriously. I brought my complaint to my department head, the Vice President of HR. He took a long haul from his Camel (such were the days before smoke-free buildings), exhaled a trail of raccoon-tailed smoke rings and asked, “Why do we need these things, anyway?” Not the response I was looking for – or expected.    Read More >

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