Keynote speakers

Thought leaders and digital water pioneers

14 November 2023 – 16:00-16:30

Khalid H. Al-Jamea
Director of Sea Water Injection Department at Aramco, Saudi Arabia
Digitalisation to Solve the Sustainability Balance

As the world’s largest integrated energy and chemicals company, Aramco established a Digital Sustainability Flagship Program which bolsters its sustainable water management operations. Energy is consumed in the water sector for provision, treatment and distribution. On the other hand, water is used in myriad ways to produce energy. The interdependence of water and energy is bound by an objective towards being carbon-neutral. To solve this sustainability balance between energy, water and carbon, the creative power of digital transformation comes to play. Drawing from Aramco’s experience, a framework of digital transformation continues to strengthen leadership in sustainability by increasing operational efficiency, promoting nature-based solutions and streamlining the measurement and reporting of ESG metrics including those related to water. In this framework, water management operations at Aramco implemented pioneering robotics enabling unmanned operations, advanced data analytics for reliability and decarbonisation, and AI-powered process automation. With past success, how may industry usher the power of innovation in digital transformation to solve the sustainability balance?


Khalid H. Al-Jamea is the Director of the Sea Water Injection Department at Aramco. There, he leads the Company’s flagship sustainable water management for oil production, the Qurayyah Sea Water Plant (QSWP). It is the largest operation of its type in the world, treating seawater for reservoir pressure maintenance, thus preserving valuable groundwater. Throughout his 25+ years career at Aramco, Mr. Al-Jamea has fused his education in Mechanical Engineering with a Master of Business Administration, delivering high-impact initiatives in Saudi Arabia and abroad. These include Engineering, Project Management & Commissioning and Plants Operations. He has been the Director of Oil & Gas production departments, including the giant remote Shaybah field. During his management tenure at Aramco, Mr. Al-Jamea has overseen pioneering sustainability initiatives in energy-efficiency, biodiversity, and nature-based solutions. Under his leadership, the seawater injection system has become a model of implementing Aramco’s digital transformation strategy.

15 November 2023 – 09:00-09:30

Fernando Cortabitarte
Director of the Water Cycle at Acciona, Spain
Digitalisation Impact in the Challenges of the Water Sector

Digitalisation means that effective data management becomes one of the competitive advantages of any company. Current technologies allow you to capture, store, classify and process data, converting it into knowledge that helps in decision-making.


Dr. Fernando Cortabitarte Latorre holds the position of Water Cycle Director at Acciona, where his expertise and leadership play a pivotal role in managing and advancing water-related initiatives. He earned his Doctor of Chemical Sciences with a specialisation in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Basque Country in 1991.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Dr. Cortabitarte holds an MBA Executive from the School of Industrial Organisation, obtained in 2010, showcasing his dedication to professional development. His commitment to education is evident through his teaching activities at the University of Deusto, where he has been a professor for the Master’s Degree in Engineering and Environmental Management since 2001.

Dr. Fernando Cortabitarte’s extensive professional experience also includes serving as the Director of the Desalination Operation & Maintenance Department from February 1997 to December 2021. He has a remarkable history of leadership, having been responsible for managing various water-related services in Spain and evaluating tenders for the Integrated Water Cycle.

15 November 2023 – 15:45-16:15

Wim Audenaert
CEO and Co-founder of AM Team, Belgium
The water industry in the digital era: meeting challenges with innovation

Digitalisation is not a goal, but an opportunity to address key challenges in our industry. Such challenges include climate change, changing demands, an ageing workforce etc. A great starting point for successful implementation of new digital tools is where the most acute problems (i.e. ‘Market Readiness Level – MRL’) can be matched with the most ready solutions (i.e. ‘Technology Readiness Level – TRL’). This creates organisation and sector-wide buy-in and serves as inspiration for further deployment.

This keynote will map the trees within the forest of digital tools (a forest in which sometimes people get lost) and will illustrate by means of inspiring examples how digitalisation can change our industry and society for the better. The keynote will end with a future vision for a digital water industry.


Wim Audenaert is co-founder and CEO at AM-Team. He obtained MSc and PhD degrees in environmental engineering at Ghent University. After working as an assistant professor for 3 years, he transitioned from academic to sciencepreneur, co-founding AM-Team in 2017.

The Belgian-based company deploys new modelling solutions and concepts that help shape the treatment plant of the future. AM-Team’s customers are international utilities, consultants and tech vendors. The company helped design, optimise and digitalise over 150 treatment plants.

16 November 2023 – 09:00-09:30

Jorge Helmbrecht 
Business Development Director, Idrica, Spain
Digital sustainability: looking into the future

Water utilities are facing challenges derived from increasing water demands, undetected losses in networks and climate-change related events, such as droughts and floods.

In this context, digital transformation is being increasingly adopted by utilities to improve water and wastewater management, and to anticipate extreme events. However, the organisational and data silos created by the implementation and integration of smart water technologies are bringing about a new set of challenges.

How can the present and future success of this process be ensured? The only way is to apply digital sustainability criteria. This involves ensuring data integration and analysis to make better decisions, even when different technologies and providers are being used.


Jorge Helmbrecht has a degree in Civil Engineering and a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Hydraulic Engineering from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. He also holds a Master’s degree in Water Resources from the National University of Cordoba. His professional career spans more than two decades in the areas of water resources, water engineering and international consultancy, and he has extensive experience in digital business development in the water sector.

Some of his previous positions include Head of Surface Hydrology at the Catalan Water Agency, co-founder and Product Manager at the consultancy firm Water Idea, S.A., and Director of the intelligent software company WatEner (Inclam Group).

Currently, Jorge is Business Development Director at Idrica, a leading company specialising in water cycle management which unlocks the value of water technology to accelerate digital transformation in utilities.

16 November 2023 – 15:45-16:15

Rebekah Eggers
Global Client Engagement & Innovation Director, Energy & Resources Sector at IBM, USA
Harnessing the Power of Data and AI for a Resilient Water Future

Innovation at the intersection of technology and critical infrastructure is driving remarkable advances in the clean energy transition. The concurrent transformation of the water sector will be paramount to our resilient future. This journey has already begun, delivering many successful examples of foundational instrumentation and digital solutions. The emergence of generative AI, with its promise to radically transform business and society forever, will accelerate progress. Think about the data that exists across the water sector, whether it’s sensor data, images, speech, different data about the business — this is all intelligence that’s just waiting to be unleashed. However, we must be mindful of the socio-technological and process-driven challenges that utilities seeking to leverage trusted and transparent AI are facing. Early adopters are showcasing the potential and establishing benchmarks for anticipated operational and financial benefits. They inspire innovation, collective collaboration, research, and investment. Let’s create a resilient water future!


Rebekah has responsibility for Global Client Engagement and Innovation at IBM in Energy & Resources. She is a trusted utility industry professional based in Los Angeles with a 20+ year track record of strong solution leadership. She mobilises the IBM global and partner ecosystem capabilities to create business value leveraging experiences managing complex initiative design while operating in intense, results-focused environments. Rebekah is known for creating sustainable go-to-market and portfolio leadership for solutions that modernise, predict, automate and secure critical infrastructure, improve operational efficiencies, and deliver customer satisfaction, ultimately enabling high-performance teams. She is sought out as a strategic advisor, keynote speaker, and for engaging dialogue at industry events across the globe on topics including Electrifying Energy, Sustainably Fuelling The Future, Digital Transformation.