The current Ombudsman is Andrew Walker. He works part-time in that role, and has no staff.
After gaining a degree in physics, Andrew first worked as a nuclear physicist on submarine propulsion systems, after which he joined ICL in Manchester, working for a number of years with major customers, particularly local authorities, in the north-west of England. He then spent thirteen years working for UK regulatory authorities. After three years at the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, he moved to the Office of Fair Trading, where he was involved primarily in an investigation into the selling of football Premier League broadcasting rights.
In 2001 Andrew moved to Oftel, and subsequently Ofcom, after it took over the work of Oftel and a number of other communications regulators. Having spent nearly a year, in 2003, on secondment from Oftel to the new Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (Otelo), in 2007 Andrew successfully applied for the position of lead Ombudsman for telecommunications at Otelo. He spent over four years in that role, taking overall responsibility for the handling of complaints about communications providers, leaving in June 2012.
The current Ombudsman was appointed in November 2012 by the Waterways Ombudsman Committee, following an advertisement and open competition for the post. The appointment was for a period of four years, ending on 31 October 2016.
At its meeting on 25 May 2016 the Waterways Ombudsman Committee exercised its discretion, under the Rules, and agreed to an extension to Andrew's term of office for three years from 1 November 2016 to 31 October 2019. At Andrew's request the Committee agreed to bring forward the termination date by three months, to Friday 26 July 2019.
The Ombudsman elect is Sarah Daniel, who takes over the role as soon as Andrew steps down. She was appointed following an advertisement and open competition.
After graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in Public Administration Sarah began a career in the Civil Service. Working in the Department of Work and Pensions for the UK and Australian Government she specialised in benefit claims and tribunal work. Here Sarah gained an understanding of working with members of the public in difficult circumstances and the importance of putting complicated information into layman’s terms, allowing both sides of the story to understand why a decision has been reached.
In 2004 Sarah joined Ombudsman Services as an Investigation Officer dealing with complaints about communication providers. In 2009 she became an Ombudsman and has assisted in the investigation of thousands of complaints on a range of subjects. Sarah believes in working with the providers and regulators and using feedback from complaints to improve services for all. In 2016 Sarah was promoted to Lead ombudsman and managed the multi sector ombudsman team through a period of company-wide transformation. In 2018 Sarah left Ombudsman Services looking for a new challenge that would make the most of her experience but allow time for other activities.