As we approach World Water Day, Sequana’s Managing Director, North & West Australia, David Thomas and Managing Director, South & East Australia, Daniel Irwin reflect on their long careers in water and share learnings and insights as they look ahead to the future.

Finding Inspiration in Purpose  

Daniel grew up in Northern Victoria on a small Dairy Farm – which meant that irrigation water was integral to their way of life, “In a professional sense it was more chance than planning that led me to the Water Industry – I was fortunate to be selected as one of ten water industry trainees with Goulburn-Murray Water – almost 25 years later I am still loving the ability to be involved in the water sector such is its importance to our communities.”

“My affinity with water is driven by understanding the importance of the resource and how it drives economic activity, liveability as well as contributing to community health and wellbeing,” says Daniel, which is the result of living and working his entire career in rural communities that depend on water to provide for their livelihoods in producing food and fibre.

According to David, it’s the collective passion and dedication of those who strive to make a difference. He admires individuals who embrace innovative thinking and unconventional approaches to address challenges. “Our industry is filled with passionate people driven by the desire to create a positive impact.”

When asked what water means to him, David references Ikigai, a Japanese concept about defining your purpose in life to sum it up. According to a study by Michiko Kumano, feeling ‘ikigai’ means the feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment that follows when people pursue their passions.

Embracing Passion and Diversity

When Daniel thinks about what he loves most about the water industry, it is the passion people have for water. “Throughout my career, I have met some of the most amazing people – generally irrigators, given my background – who dedicate thousands of hours voluntarily in the quest for improving the balance between healthy environments, healthy communities and food and fibre production,”

“That passion also exists in the many people who have chosen to be a professional in the water sector – many are drawn to the industry because of its importance to our communities and want to make a meaningful difference.”

For David, it is the diversity of perspectives it encompasses and the opportunities to engage with people from different backgrounds, united by their shared connection to water. “The water industry attracts people with a mind-boggling range of skills and experiences, I love conversing with individuals whose experiences differ from my own, yet share a common passion for water.”

Navigating Challenges in an Evolving Landscape

When asked about the greatest challenges facing the industry, David addresses climate change and the urgent need for action and adaptation in response to the inevitable changes. “Climate change adaptation isn’t a choice—it’s a necessary response, and as an industry, we to rethink its approach to the water cycle and invest in sustainable solutions.

For Daniel, the biggest challenge he has experienced is finding the balance between healthy environments, healthy communities and supporting our ability to produce sufficient food and fibre is a delicate and complex challenge; and we are managing a finite resource.

“It is a balance that to some extent affects almost everyone. In addition, one of the key challenges in the industry is the management of ageing infrastructure and the ability to manage this in a manner that supports affordability objectives for consumers – I feel like this will continue to be a challenge.”

Hope for the Future

Looking ahead, David hopes that the industry’s optimism, passion, and expertise will continue to drive positive change. He believes in the resilience of professionals within the water sector to confront challenges head-on and innovate for a sustainable future.

David and Daniel, alongside the wider Sequana team, are continually striving to support the water industry in building knowledge and capacity to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“Witnessing first-hand the significant – and continued – investment in improving water use efficiency, in both a rural and urban context, has reinforced the importance and benefits of taking action to maximise the efficiency with which water is being used,” says Daniel.

David and Daniel’s different journeys in the water industry, both serve as a testament to the transformative power of passion and purpose. As the industry navigates the complexities of the modern world, we are grateful we have them both helping lead the charge towards a more sustainable and resilient future.