Dr. Suresh Babu Parasuraman
Co-Founder and Director at 8TEQ Environmental Pte. Ltd
Founder and Director at Kalingu Consultancy, Singapore
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?
I started my schooling (until 10th Std, 1993) in Tamil Medium (Mother Tongue) at Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Then I moved to English Medium from higher secondary. It was a challenging period when I shifted my studies from my mother tongue (Tamil) to English medium suddenly. I still remember those days how I read my lessons with two books side by side (Tamil and English version) to better understand and improve my vocabulary in the English language. It took almost one year to stabilize and eventually managed with confidence in 12th Std. I was a topper whether it was in 10th Std (Tamil Medium) or 12th Std (1995) (English medium). Nothing stopped my confidence to grow further. My sincere request to the youngsters who are studying in their mother tongue: “Do not be afraid of your language and lose your self-confidence when you move to English medium. You can easily overcome the challenge with perseverance and interest. It is just a matter of time and hard work!”.
In 1995, I got into B.E. (Civil Engineering) in Bharath Institute of Science and Technology (@ Chennai) shortly called as BIST (Now called “Bharath University”). That time it was under the University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. I completed my B.E. in 1999 and emerged as a rank holder in the University exams.
With a strong desire to continue my studies, I got into M.E. (Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering) and completed the Masters in 2001 (Class Topper). Then I started my Part-time Ph.D. (Civil Engineering) in 2001 and continued till 2003. Then, I became a Full-time Ph.D. scholar with a Senior Research Fellow (SRF) Scholarship from CSIR-New Delhi. I submitted my thesis in 2006. Both Masters and Ph.D. were from College of Engineering Guindy (Popularly known as CEG Guindy), Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
My professional journey started at CWR and IRS, Anna University, Chennai. In 2001, I worked as a project associate in CWR and then joined as a Lecturer (Teaching/Research Associate) in IRS. Then I joined PUB Singapore (Singapore National Water Agency) in Dec 2006 and moved to the private sector (DHI Singapore) in 2010. After getting extensive experience in the water sector, I started my consulting business in 2017 and running it successfully for the past 2.5 years.
I am happy and proud with my professional journey that covers Academics/Research area, Public Sector, Private sector and then entrepreneurship.
Q2. What attracted you to Hydrology and Water Resources?
From Childhood onwards, I had a strong attraction towards “Water” and especially “Rain” and the “soil smell during the rainy days”. It was always a pleasant experience for me to watch the rain (sometimes rainbow) and the flow of water. The sound from water flow was also another soothing (relaxing) experience for me. I always love to hear that sound. Probably this made me choose the “Hydrology” field.
When I had a choice of choosing between Irrigation Water Management/Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering/Construction Management, etc. at the time of getting into Masters, I eventually moved to “Hydrology”.
Q3. What kind of problems have you faced in your Industry/Domain and how did you overcome them?
When I entered the Water Industry from Academics, it was totally a different world from Academics perspective! There were lots of challenging issues that I never experienced in Academics! I initially struggled to understand them without a direct encounter (experience) at the field. Often I noticed that there were a lot of disconnection between what universities teach and the skills that are actually needed in the market.
The industry is more result-oriented and focuses on addressing real-world problems. While academics focus on publications and theoretical knowledge. For example, “Freeboard” is a term used to add additional depth (say 15%) on top of “designed canal depth” in stormwater drain design, as a factor of safety. This term I never heard in Academics where we try to resolve the design based on the formulae and derive only the design depth. In Industry, we are applying it on the ground and conservatively (at the same time optimally) design it to overcome the risk of failure either due to human errors or buffer for certain extreme events/unforeseen situations.
Moreover, I entered the Singapore Water Industry from India, which is ahead in water technology and it was totally new to me. Academics did not focus on the latest technologies, how to handle business and communication skills in the industry. For example, Academics put less weightage on teaching Industrial software applications and when it comes to the industry, people lack software skills that are necessary for industrial applications. With these challenges in mind, I decided to work hard to understand/learn on my own to cope with the way the Industry worked. I ended up working after office hours (at home) in my initial stages to gain more knowledge and experience in the Water Industry and also to satisfy my supervisors’ expectations.
I always think that ‘nothing is waste’ when you learn/do/try something new at any point in your life. You do not know when it will help you in your lifetime, but it will surely help you at some point of time in your future!
Another challenge I faced was in “People Management”. I had to work with people with different mindsets and manage their varying levels of expectations. I acquired this skill only through experience, patience and perseverance.
In general, the Industry deals with real-world problems and have a real impact on peoples’ lives. So, it requires a lot of caution and care.
Q4. You are the founder and co-founder of two ventures. What kind of projects are you doing in your organizations?
Yes, I am an owner (founder and director) of Kalingu Consultancy, Singapore, started in Dec 2017. The prime goals of the company are:
- To provide consultancy services in Water and Environment areas in and around the APAC region and beyond, with exceptional quality at a great value.
- To support the major/minor consulting companies on their projects, products and solutions with a WIN-WIN situation.
- To provide training to the Clients for successful implementation and sustainable operation of the projects/solutions.
The company is currently working on projects in Asia-Pacific and beyond, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and others. The vision of the company is to be the best consulting company providing outstanding quality, exceptional services, and great value.
The detailed list of project activities and company profile is at the web: http://www.kalinguconsultancy.com and also at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/kalingu-consultancy/
I am also a co-founder and director of 8TEQ Environmental Pte Ltd, Singapore, started in Feb 2020, along with my three other friends who were my colleagues earlier. They are also experts in the various domain in Water Industry. 8TEQ Environmental Pte. Ltd. provides a one-stop Water and Environment solutions as well as provides services in the aquaculture industry to enhance food security and play a role in the circular economy in and around the APAC region and beyond. The entire value chain of our full services would span from in-depth technical assessment, monitoring programme, evaluation and recommendation of cost-effective solutions, implementation and tracking of the measures followed by O&M services. In addition, training for capacity building purposes would be part of the services.
Q5. How do you motivate yourself every morning?
A very interesting question! Everyone needs motivation especially with the current COVID situation and economy downturn!
The simple motivation for me is the remembrance of the way I have grown up from a lower-middle-class family situation to the current comfortable/happy life! I was never afraid of failures or downfalls as I have the confidence to rise back again. After all, it is a matter of time to come back and reach great heights! Happiness is more important than “Money”!
I always remember the Poems of the Great Tamil Poet Subramaniya Bharathiyar, a sample of which is shown below in the screenshot:
“Did you think I too will
Spend my days in mundane search of food,
Telling petty tales and gossips,
Worrying myself with unwanted thoughts,
Hurting others by my selfish acts,
Turn senile old man with grey hair
To end up as fodder to the
relentless march of timeless Death,
As yet another faceless man???
Oh, Kali…Appear now in-person to bestow me,
New life sans ordeal of past Karma,
So that to release me from worldly pains,
To be eternally blissful with Pure Intellect!!!”
–The Great Poet Subramaniya Bharathiyar
Another motivation is automatically coming from my minimalist lifestyle (not greedy to the “luxury” lifestyle). You need a balance to decide, live comfortably and happy forever!
I am an “optimistic” person and see everything in a positive direction to motivate myself, even in difficult situations!
My favourite quotes are:
“Defeat the defeat before the Defeat defeats you”
“Though it is too late, it is not TOO late!”
Q6. Who is your source of motivation?
Of course, it is me! The “Self-motivation” is the key to success. No outside source will motivate you and often tries to de-motivate you or even pull you down to the ground!
As I said above, my past experiences (whether they were positive or negative experiences) always motivated me to move forward, as every experience is a valuable addition!
Secondly, It is my wife who always supports me, adjusts with me, encourages & motivates me at all time! Many of the key decisions that moved me ahead in my life came from her encouragement!
Q7. Where do you want to see yourself after 10 years in career?
After 10 years or during this current journey itself, I wish to be a “Capacity builder/Trainer/Motivator/Mentor” and eventually bridge the gap between “Academics” and “Industry”!
Q8. Which one thing do you want to change in yourself and why?
Currently my work life is keeping me very busy and occupied. I wish I allot some meaningful time to work with the young brains who have aspirations to excel in the field of engineering.
I have plans to share my knowledge and expertise through professional platforms and social media platforms.
You can get more about Dr. Suresh Babu Parasuraman at below links:
Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-suresh-babu-parasuraman/
YouTube channel (still in early-stage) to provide pieces of training [Learn from Home]: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJImdBU4vajk_p282a3EkVw