Precious Water - But Where Are Managers?

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 1425 , Published on 26 July 2012
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Water water Everywhere water , Nor any drop to drink was Samuel taylor coleridges famous Rime. But the Water treatment Industry begs to differ.  With a market size of 4 billion dollars and a projected growth of 10-12% every year , there is no dearth of opportunity in this sector.

As a professional of this sector I can personally vouch to the exponential and incredible growth this sector has undergone in this last decade. But unfortunately our Managers (rather MBA graduates) do not seem to be aware of the potential that awaits them in these areas.


Predominantly the water treatment sector started out as any other niche engineering sector, Managers with technical expertise were preferred , Inhouse promotions and grooming was opted and new hiring in upper management was rare if at all .  But the ridiculous growth has put the big players in the industry in a peculiar position. Though the leading companies in these sectors have no shortage of qualified Engineers to man the front line , they have a shortage of Industry ready managers to lead them into war.

Top B-school graduates from leading B-schools have their eyes trained on the already over-crowded FMCG and consulting sector whereas they leave a sector which is in dear need of qualified managers hanging.

If industry predictions are anything to go by , we are in for a exponential growth of the water scenario  in India. The Private Equity investment of 2011 was almost double that of 2010.

Water treatment Industry in India.

The Water treatment industry has so much potential because it has so many variances to offer. That is because a uniform double digit growth till 2017 not only bodes well for those present in the water treatment companies but to also water treatment equipment manufacturers , construction majors and all dependent vendors.

The competition is aggressive with presence of global players like Veolia, GE, Siemens along with Indian players like Wabag, Degremont, Ion exchange and many other new ventures popping up frequently.  Water treatment sector (industrial and municipal) as a whole is still unorganized and in need of reforms. These companies did require skilled engineers to meet their targets. But now that the Engineering shortage is amply met by the surging engineering graduation rates across the country. The top players are realizing that they are in requirement of skilled managers as well. A false rumour about this sector is that the prospective manager should have water background to survive. I can vehemently deny the fact as personally I have met a variety of professional managers in the industry and I can vouch for their varied and diverse background.

One can be sure that there is plenty of pie for everyone involved as a 2007 Government report said that Water resource management will be the single biggest problem to Indian economy in the 21st century. By a recent report in GRAIL , It is said that by 2025 India will face a scarcity of water. In the span of 25 years we have gone from an “Abundant” Global per capita index in 1975 to “Adequate” in 2000. Keeping in mind the urban population explosion and industrial requirement of water the GRAIL has conservatively labelled INDIA in a “Stress” band also mentioning that we could very well slip into the “scarcity” band joining the likes of Namibia and Algeria.

Hence it is vital that Instead of throwing words around like Environment and “Global warming” ,  that this problem be treated academically as well. Making sure that our elite and budding managers join the fight with big water treatment players against scarcity so that they can flourish Individually whilst making India a secure country in terms of water supply.

Though Present government regulations and policies are a huge hindrance to this sector. The New Draft of National Water policy hints at opening up the sector for Privatization whilst hiking water tariff and assuring ground water security. Though still in the draft change , even consideration of such bold claims augurs well for the sector as a whole.

So In summary what we are looking at a sector which is marked to grow 15-20% annually for the next 5 years and is in dear shortage of role-ready managers. So in the next decade Water treatment sector will be one of the few sectors with almost constant demand for young professionals and Role-ready managers.

Hence it is my appeal to you young, Environment Conscious managers to consider the prospect of entering into the water treatment sector in your peripheral vision and make an informed decision.

This article has been authored by Sathya Udayakumar from Great Lakes Institute of Management.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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