I’m starting an initiative to coach and guide young talents who have a passion for infrastructure to get into the sector. And I’ve already been writing quite a lot more on topics surrounding infrastructure, trying to make the subject and topic a little more accessible to the laymen. By that, I mean to become equipped with the jargons, latest developments and knowledge tidbits about the industry so that they can be fluent enough to gain access to employment opportunities. Of course, they ought to develop that vision of their involvement in the sector as well.
Infrastructure have never been quite an attractive area of work though a lot of the more prestigious areas do overlap with infrastructure. For example, M&A lawyers and bankers have been involved with infrastructure assets for decades. And project financiers have been around for a long time though probably overshadowed by the investment banking side of the house. Yet infrastructure presents opportunities to a whole host of work and learning opportunities for multiple disciplines. It is an area that is tangible, involves practical impacts, requires multi-disciplinary problem solving and thinking, connects finance, business, engineering, accounting, digital and operations capabilities. And to a large extent, demand for infrastructure don’t go away that easily, though it is often subject to political winds of the market.
It is not just the opportunities within the sector that encourages me to reach out to the younger ones but the fact that the sector needs fresh hands and minds. Infrastructure of the future is not that of the past. Despite having a rather established model within the developed world, the newly emerging economies are faced with economies, population and growth rates vastly different from the western experience. This means that even if the same hardware (ie. a bridge or a road) is needed, we need to look at it in new ways – whether it is to develop, finance, or to operate it. We need all the hands and minds of fresh young talents to rewrite the orthodoxy of infrastructure in this changing world.
Already, there had been new developments; the kind of risk capital entering these assets are changing, and the approach to de-risking now involves even more parties. But existing generation of infrastructure experts needs to pass on their know-how, accumulated through decades of experience to help the emerging markets not make the same mistakes or to reinvent something else rather than what has been established previously. Past experience is not irrelevant even in a new and disrupted world. A new generation of infrastructure professionals will be needed to incorporate these past learnings into the new wave of infrastructure that is supporting our new industrial revolution.
The earlier waves of infrastructure booms were driven by demand and necessity. The industrial revolution in the 1800s brought about a new structure of the economy and required high densities and agglomeration of population. This can only be supported by more infrastructure. Subsequently after the world wars, infrastructure was needed in the economic rebuilding, incidentally helping to get the western economies out of Great Depression. And this laid the foundation for the subsequent period of moderation and boom. It is unfortunate that the developed world then to start looking at infrastructure projects more through the lens of Keynesian fiscal stimulus than for the supply-side impacts that it generates. In Asia today, infrastructure continue to be driven by necessity and their demand derived from demand for many other modern products and services. For example, digital products require greater connectivity; the ability for cross-border e-commerce means more physical connectivity infrastructure for logistics to flow.
This sense of purposes will drive me to continue with my writing, my interactions with those aspiring to enter this sector, and also to learn more and develop myself in my work so as to help equip others. Thank you for giving me this chance to share my passion.
By way of starting out, if you’re reading this and interested, sign up to my mailing list first. I’ll probably get going with emails in the month of September.