People Spotlight: Ruth McNeil

30 March 2022

Meet Ruth McNeil! Ruth manages our partnership with The Water Test Network and supports our Development Centres to drive innovation in the water sector.

Hi Ruth, tell us a bit about your career journey so far.

I’ve been with Horizons since 2018, having spent eight years managing projects in the financial, environmental and international development sectors.  Although I studied law at University, I prefer the variety of project work. Luckily I’ve been able to put my law degree to good use in some of the innovation projects I’ve managed!

close up image of Scottish Water employee, Ruth McNeil, wearing a yellow hi-visibility safety vest
Ruth McNeil

What drew you to the Water Test Network?

Throughout my career, I’ve managed large multi-stakeholder projects. When I saw the opportunity to represent the Water Test Network, it was just too good to miss. The need for water innovation is crucial to meet increasing demands and I find this aspect very rewarding. Being part of Horizons also means I get the chance to experience other areas such as low carbon energy.

What does a typical day look like?

There is no such thing as a typical day – that’s the beauty of it! From speaking with partners and helping with funding applications to building relationships with other water networks, I love the variety of the role.

I’ve also become more involved in supporting our Development Centres which are driving innovation in the water sector.  Helping with referrals, learning about new technologies, and working with our brilliant team on our future aspirations means no two days are the same.

Scottish Water employee, Ruth McNeil, standing beside her friend. Both are wearing black wetsuits and standing outside an open boat giving the cheers signal
Ruth (right) about to embark on her first cage dive!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I find the strategic aspects of my role really stimulating; looking at our future vision and all the exciting possibilities it may bring.  I love working with our European partners – finding out about projects and how we could collaborate.

Horizons also offers fantastic opportunities to see new things first-hand. It’s been brilliant seeing companies develop and commercialise their technologies. Knowing we’ve helped them in some way is very rewarding.

What do you do in your spare time?

Pretty standard stuff really! I spend time with friends, go running, work out at the gym, walk the dog and binge on Netflix and Amazon Prime…

Scottish Water employee, Ruth McNeil, crouching in the grass and feeding a banana to a wild lemur
Sharing a banana with a lemur…

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’ve cage-dived with Great White sharks off the coast in Australia…and I’ve shared a banana with wild lemurs in Madagascar.

If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?

I’d love to be able to speak to or understand animals!  I’m keen to know what my dog thinks when I speak to him…his eye rolls can be misinterpreted…

I’d love to transport myself anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye…just think of not having to commute or go through airport security!

I’d also wish for World Peace and an end to Climate Change.  There are many heart-breaking things happening in the world just now which are having a devastating impact on people’s lives and our environment. So my last wish would be for us all to live peacefully and in harmony with our surroundings.

If you could interview one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Its got to be David Attenborough. He must have led one of the most interesting lives of anyone on the planet and I wish I could be him!

What was the last show you binge-watched?

An unusual fortune-telling experience...
An unusual fortune-telling experience…

Schitts Creek!  I loved everything about this show and I am on my third time binging it now.

Best advice you’ve ever received…

“Grab every opportunity you get in life.”

You’ll have no regrets and never say, “I wish I’d tried that when I had the chance”. I live my life by this, I’ll try anything once!

I’m sure this is why I feel relatively unfazed when unexpected things come up. (After you’ve had your future told by a witch doctor dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and a fez hat, everything else you come across in life is fairly normal!). 

Thanks Ruth! You can read our whole People Spotlight series here.

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