While I am listening to the closing remarks of the 2015 Amsterdam International Water – it already feels like a good new deep dive into global water sector. This week I have launched my new company with the name 'Crazy About Water' – and it feels like a positive identity crisis during networking. "Who are you, what do you do and where are you working?"
“Water people like to talk to water people”
The closing panel of AIWW - that consists of the crème de la crème of the water sector - mentions the importance of working with different people outside the sector “water people like to talk to water people” and “we are lacking younger generations to chose for the theme of water”. I have a feeling… its time for some ripples in the water.
I am still feeling privileged that - 5 years ago - Jeroen (NWP) and Peter (akvo.org) opened the door for me into the water world. Of course I felt different – not being a water specialist or engineer – but definitely had the positive feeling that I could contribute by being different. Therefore, its time for a new flow – I would like to connect the beautiful dots in the water sector and around. Innovations / disruptions come from outside. Banks are nervously looking at Apple Pay or M-pesa – and Tesla/Apple/Google will become the new car manufactures.
There are many management lessons that encourage you to find your deeper meaning in life, your WHY or purpose. I still have a dream – and that is to use a platform as the Volvo Ocean Race to bring awareness and action to the theme of water globally. I like to connect different worlds – and hopefully inspire people to become passionate (or crazy) about water – and make a difference. But to be really honest I would like to create a (virtual) platform for accelerating innovations by water game-changers to really make an impact.
"there is communicator in everybody and with all things in life the more you practice the better you will become".
I will probably never be a great writer – but I have learned from Mark Charmer (former Co-Founder and Comms Director Akvo) – there is communicator in everybody and with all things in life the more you practice the better you will become. This will be my first Crazy About Water blog – as a diary or something to start a dialogue with. Besides sharing my experiences – I will challenge myself to start writing about in-depth themes of water as well.
Water is a precious good, we need to exchange more knowledge and work more together with different sectors - I am still struggling about the way the water sector is presenting itself especially if we would like to attract a different audience. The sector is full of passionate and very skilled people – but during conferences I always have the feeling we are lacking to find our sweet spot – and really make a difference. Most of the presentations are a replay of 2013 or are ready for upcoming water summits.
How do we collaborate and define that international water ambition in which everybody knows her or his role. How do we manage and create a perfect storm. We are aligned that water is bankable, is crossing borders, and scaling is essential to be successful. Eventually we need to close the loop via our new theme of circular economy (and don’t forget Cradle to Cradle).
As mentioned I will definitely devote an additional blog about the in-depth conversations around my experiences during last Singapore Water Summit (June2015) and Amsterdam Water Week tracks. Over de last 5 years I have been a newbie in the water sector – and I still have the feeling I haven’t landed yet. Perhaps it’s about my different background – and I haven’t decided within the different aspect of water to which team I belong (WASH/Utilities/Industrial/Waste/IWRM/etc).
Perhaps I feel like a crazy one within the sector – and it feels bit awkward bit it’s a position that I feel comfortable with. Probably I need to communicate more clearly about my vision and find the right team of like-minded people to support us as a water sector.
Its better to start
The first of November felt like a natural starting-point to kick-off my new journey – building an agency with the name Crazy About Water. As mentioned an identity-crises was definitely a result of the last days – but it has been so healthy to be challenged / encouraged / supported in bringing my ideas to the next level.
As mentioned ‘in the water sector we talk to water people’ – and focus on technological innovations instead of looking at the changing world or transformational journeys. During Singapore Technology summit (June 2015) with around 300 water leaders one of the conclusions was stated that we as a sector should market our product – water – as the best product ever. We should be able to really share knowledge and data together – compared to Oil & Gas we are underperforming.
We as a sector should market our product - water - as the best product ever. - SIWW Technology and Innovation Summit 2015
World Economic Forum - Ranking No 1
Water is appealing, everybody loves water but our approach is mostly technical as the sector is dominated by elder male engineers. People are passionate about their work – and I love to be inspired and work-together with water-wizards that are all trying to solve the number 1 global risk: water challenges (WEF). We are looking for collaboration and a game-changer, we are looking for the blue bullet to lift people out of poverty that are desperately in need of clean and safe drinking water, people that building resilience into their urban city environment and people that are dealing challenging business cases of running an utility without raising prices too much as water is a commodity and human right.
There is a bit of craziness within everybody – and our biggest challenge is to cherish (or re-gain) that little piece of joy and use it into your daily work activities. So crazy means passionate – skilled – brave – challenging the status qua for the better good. I would like to work over the coming years (out of Singapore) on an agency that develops a model that brings innovative services to a group (value chain) of partners. Singapore is the brilliant location to bridge different worlds – as Singaporeans have a unique mind-set in which they constantly will raise the bar and are eager to learn from others. Its more about phrasing the right question than focusing on sharing their vision how others should run their water operations.
Singapore vs Amsterdam
Being back in Amsterdam feels like being a tourist in your own town – which is good as you appreciate the normal things that you normally wouldn’t see anymore. The weather couldn’t be better for the time of the year – beautiful clear blue skies definitely give me a sort of ‘home-sick’ feeling riding on my bike through Amsterdam. Listening to the Key-Note of Mr Peter Ng – I realize that I feel Singaporean and that I am proud (and engaged) with the Singapore Water Story.
Probably the easiest to describe my new journey (roadmap) as a sailing trip that just left the harbor of Amsterdam – and will sail to Singapore (July 2016 Singapore Water Week) with some impressive pit stops in Myanmar (Holland Water Challenge) and visits of Mr Henk Ovink to Singapore in March of for CLC lecture.
To be continued
Thank you all for challenging my value proposition by asking a lot of question. Coming period I will work on some consultancy contracts – and will work on defining that sweet spot for me in the water sector. At the end of the day I am looking for new partnerships that will result in sustainable models. Number one is for me the people to work with – they should challenge me or bring me to the next development level. Working with crazy student team to connect them to the right people. Number two is the learning curve in getting more insights in water specific related content. Number three should be a fair exchange of knowledge or network access to promote matchmaking services. Number four it should be concrete – I need to see a result – I need pressure (deadlines) to perform optimally.
I would like to commit myself to produce at least every month a blog about my experiences. Please interact or provide feedback.