Q&A with Abby McGuckin

Water stewardship should always be a standalone topic within sustainability, but I think its tenets and data will become increasingly valuable to business-as-usual functions as we navigate an unpredictable business, climate and political environment.”

#WomenInWater #InspireInclusion

Q&A with Abby McGuckin

We spoke with Abby McGuckin, Water Impact Manager at GSK, an AWS Member, about her role, water stewardship and what International Women’s Day means to her. 

How would you describe your role?   

Sustainability at GSK involves protecting nature to make our business more resilient and ensure the ongoing supply of raw materials needed to manufacture our medicines and vaccines – this includes water which is essential in the production of medicines and vaccines and vital for human health. I work to reduce water use and improve water quality across our value chain, both internally at GSK and with external partners and organisations, to deliver on our 2030 nature commitments. 

What drew you to working in water in particular? 

Water doesn’t behave the way humans want or expect it to. It expands when it freezes. It always finds a crack in the dam. It’s not there when we need it most. Yet, it is the foundation of life, economies and a just future. Given its paradoxical nature, I studied water in both of my degrees.  

Now, I have the pleasure of working in water full time. It’s clear that water problems need many different solutions – industrial collaboration, improved valuation, technology, and a convergent policy landscape. I was drawn to water because it allows me to think across these challenges and trends and identify insights to improve our business resilience and contribute to a nature positive world. Personally, I am excited about the water impact technology space – these innovations will help us see, think and do better to solve wicked water problems. 

What does a day in your job look like? 

It’s full of inspiration. Every day is different but there are common themes in my role. Internally, as a subject matter expert in the central sustainability team, I connect with our reporting, engineering, procurement, and partnerships functions on projects related to our sustainability strategy and the governance of delivering our public commitments. Externally, I participate in working groups from the Water Resilience Coalition, Pharmaceutical Environmental Group, and the Alliance for Water Stewardship. Speaking to my counterparts in pharma and in other sectors is always a highlight of my day! 

What does water stewardship mean to you? 

It means embracing the way water behaves, no matter how it is unruly from a human perspective. Water stewardship also means exhausting human creativity to protect and conserve this invaluable resource for the communities and ecosystems that depend on it. 

What stage would you say you are at in your water stewardship journey? 

I can picture the nature transformation opportunity made possible through collective action and value chain engagement, as well as the role I can play in it from a corporate perspective. Water stewardship should always be a standalone topic within sustainability, but I think its tenets and data will become increasingly valuable to business-as-usual functions as we navigate an unpredictable business, climate and political environment. 

How have you found working with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and/or the AWS Standard?    

Exceptional. I am consistently impressed by the ambition and quality of the AWS team, which is reflected in the Standard. I regularly use AWS materials and champion the AWS Standard as the definition and foundation of good water stewardship. I’m looking forward to V3.0! 

What achievement are you most proud of when it comes to water?   

Our approach to water stewardship at water-stressed sites is to 1) avoid or reduce the site’s operational impacts, 2) replenish or restore the site’s operational footprint, and 3) collaborate with stakeholders in the basin on shared water challenges towards collective action wherever possible.  

We’re delivering on this approach in the Godavari Basin, where our GSK Nashik site and key suppliers are located in India. This is made possible through dedicated on-site teams and local and international partners, such as the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) which is delivering water replenishment and WaterAid’s Women+Water Collaborative (established alongside Gap and Cargill) which is increasing climate resilient WASH access. To amplify our impact, GSK has formally committed to become Godavari’s Basin Champion, a Water Resources Coalition initiative to drive positive water impacts in 100 priority basins by 2030. We are also stepping up our commitment with Lisa Martin, GSK’s Chief Procurement Officer, taking on the role of Basin Champion for the Godavari basin. This C-Suite endorsed initiative solidifies our ongoing commitment to the Godavari. For this, I am extremely proud! 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It’s a time to reflect on progress made on inclusion and empowerment, level-set new ambitions and identify my role in them. It also means reflecting on my privilege and, within the water context, the fact that access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene varies dramatically around the world – especially for women who are typically responsible for domestic, water-related chores. For IWD this year, I’m going to take time to prioritise my objectives for inspiring inclusion in 2024. 

IWD 2024 asks us to ‘Inspire Inclusion’. Have you experienced moments in your career where feeling included led to positive outcomes? 

Absolutely. In fact, these have been defining milestones in my career. This is especially true in my current role at GSK, where colleagues across the organisation regularly ask me for my point-of-view and recommendations – on water topics and beyond. The simple act of asking for my opinion, especially as a woman earlier on in her career, immediately made me feel like an important part of the organisation and that I have a role to play in shaping its future. This goes hand-in-hand with being empowered to take on new responsibilities, including leading initiatives that I’ve recommended we pursue together. Asking questions, listening to opinions, and delegating responsibilities are fundamental to developing leadership and doing so from an inclusivity mindset embodies the 2024 IWD theme. 

In the context of your work on water stewardship, are there any other female leaders in this space who you think others should know about?     


  • Madhavi Kadrekar – WOTR, Fundraising Strategist 
  • Caroline Black – Gilead, Climate and Water Stewardship Senior Manager (formerly WRI) 
  • Sharai Gossart – GSK, Sustainability Project Lead (facilitating AWS implementation at GSK)