South East Asia Water Market | Water Talent Market

On 5th August, Singapore Water Association (SWA) co-organised the latest webinar with LVI Associates, “The Water Market in South East Asia”. More than 100 participants attended the webinar.
During the course of the webinar, our highly engaged audience asked pressing interesting questions about developments affecting the water market.
Ms Kayleigh Regan, Head of Water & Transportation at LVI Associates and Mr Pravi Bansal, Managing Partner at Amane Advisors - South East Asia have shared their insights.

Water Talent Market

It is interesting to see the potential for the water market in South East Asia. How do you recommend people who looking to get into the water market in South East Asia to find opportunities in the sector? Especially, if we are not in South East Asia now.

The potential for the Water market is exciting in South East Asia and although a lot of companies prefer to hire local talent, there are still opportunities that arise for those who are not based in Southeast Asia. The difficulty is that a lot of the time, the opportunities that open up are not posted publicly – this could be due to confidentiality on projects, sensitivity as it’s a replacement role in a very small market or even that companies rely on their network to find someone to fill the role.

If you are looking to get into the water market in Southeast Asia, I would recommend growing your LinkedIn network in the region so that you can connect with those who are already in the market and be up to date with any postings on new roles either made by companies or their employees.

My other recommendation would, of course, be to connect with a specialist recruiter in the region. If the recruiter truly is a specialist, they will be able to keep you up to date on any upcoming projects or companies in the region that are looking to grow. There are many benefits for job seekers to get connected with a specialist recruiter, here is an article you can refer to - How a Specialist Recruiter Can Help You Secure Your Dream Job.

I often have had recruiters reach out to me about new opportunities - I normally reject the requests as I have been in my current company for a long time (I guess we are all a bit worried about stepping out of our comfort zone). Is this behaviour common in the Water market? Do you think it is better to work for the same company for a long time, or is it better to move to different companies to gain exposure in the water industry?

This is a very common behaviour – people typically do not like change and being comfortable can feel very safe. However, the one thing I would suggest is that you keep your options open. This does not mean changing jobs regularly, but it does mean to keep your ear close to the ground to be aware of the market movements, the trends and upcoming opportunities. By understanding what is out there in the market, you can make a more informed decision on whether the company you are working for is the best option for you, or whether there is a benefit to moving elsewhere. I have moved many water professionals from one company to another where they have previously spent 10+ years in their old company but have moved for various reasons including an increase in salary, more benefits, better project opportunity, more career progression etc.

Do we have enough digitalisation water talent in South East Asia?

Going digital is a new concept for the water industry in South East Asia and companies have only really looked to invest in it in the last few years, and even more so in the last year. A lot of companies have struggled to break the barrier of getting into a more digital way of working and this has been due to the industries reluctance to make a change which has resulted in a lack of digital talent. There will always be the ‘if it’s not broken, why try to fix it’ attitude around change but in the last 6 months with COVID, it’s been undeniable that digitisation is necessary for the industry to move forward.

The biggest challenge with switching the mindset to digital and getting employees trained in this sector is finding experts in the Water market who have a digital skillset. We have seen a lot of companies trying to attract talent from Google, Amazon and other technology companies to bring their expertise to the Water market and train the existing employees. It is these types of movements that will create a better presence of digitalisation in the water market and increase the expertise in the region.

What specific talent skillset will be required by the water sector given the major trends you have cited?

It’s going to be important to attract digital experts into the water sector to bring the industry to the next level. Digitalisation has become even more important than before in the last 6 months and there is a huge lack of technology talent in the water market currently in Southeast Asia. Companies to look at would be the large technology firms such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon who can bring their forward-thinking ideas and knowledge to the water industry.

Another skillset that will be required is a local talent that can liaise with the local governments and investment companies in countries such as Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam to push for improved water infrastructure and technology to provide cleaner water. International talent is needed to bring experience to these markets but it’s important that the local talent is exposed to this work and can carry it through to the next generation. Building local talent will play a huge factor in the region moving forward.

To access the full webinar recording and download the full Questions & Answers - A Collection of the Best from the SWA Webinar.
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