Originally from Singapore and now having lived in New Zealand for close to twenty-six years, Raymond Tan juggles a busy career in asset management and life with three teenage boys. Discover more about Raymond’s asset management journey so far and learn from his insights into how you can really progress your career.
Why asset management?
Asset management was my preferred choice. It was the most appropriate discipline for my various professional development.
It provided the opportunity to integrate my formal education and working experiences in facilities, financial, strategic and operational management, mainly focused on physical assets.
To me, it's essentially not a new discipline, but an amalgamation of a multiple of disciplines that focus on whole of life value of an asset in relation to its benefits, costs, and risk and service performance.
How long have you been working in the asset management sector?
If you consider the broader definition of 'managing physical assets', I have worked in the defence, hotel, education, health, banking, corporate property, central local government organisations during the last thirty years.
What is your speciality?
Operationalisation of core asset management disciplines in organisations which includes asset information systems development, designing operational models, implementation of asset management strategies and enhancing staff capabilities
Over the last ten years, I've mainly focussed on the integrated asset management discipline. So, I'm able to do a strategic asset of a need or an asset or a group of assets or a portfolio - look at what's required when we actually decide to build it or acquire it and, towards the end, when we decide to dispose of it or perhaps change its function or reconfigure it's use.
What drew you to explore more about the integrated asset management discipline?
What drew me to explore more is it's a better understanding of the inter-dependencies of implementing an integrated asset management system, which includes data, people processes, the IT system itself.
After I left the asset management consulting industry in 2010 where I assisted organisations with developing asset information systems, developing asset management plans. I got offers to join many of the organisations I worked with, to help optimise the value of both the systems and the strategies that I put together with them.
I chose Auckland Council which has just undergone a major transformation after the amalgamation of eight legacy councils. I have been involved in many asset management projects over the years which had led me to realise
This led me to my current position, where I have the chance of both being able to quickly change the environment so, for me, financially for pleasures as well as being able to cope with technical advances, to build up more effective and efficient asset management organisation.
What career advice would you give to up and coming asset managers?
Be very good in one or more disciplines related to asset management before making a decision, or whether you prefer to take either a technical specialist role or a people leader career path.
Never stop learning the things you have the most passion for even if, in your career, the opportunities are unfortunately not immediately available.
A great asset manager is one that meets the demands of service expectations a few years ahead of time.
What is the most exciting trend that you’ve noticed in asset management today?
It’s probably the rate of technology advancement - mobile technology and also big data analytics. There's so much choice around and I think perhaps the challenging thing is to go back to grass roots and answer the fundamental questions - why do we need the asset? Or why do we need a service that's going to be delivered from the assets?
Because sometimes we can get carried away with just trying to understand every bit of information and digest every bit of data, and miss the point of actually why we have that in the first place.
What is the biggest challenge facing up and coming asset manager's today?
I think technology will eventually take over some of the disciplines asset managers try very hard to obtain over a long period of time - so computers and drones and everything else you can think of - will be able to do some of the tasks that we've now all been trained to do, using our hands. But one thing that will not be replaced by technology is communication and relationship's fields.
I've come across many times, when I've put an asset management plan together or I've put an asset management system together, is sometimes we struggle to make it work well and I think one of the most common short-comings is how we communicate and tell a very good story.
And after we do tell a good story - a compelling story - as to why we need to introduce change, building the relationship is just as important. People need to understand and have empathy from the user's perspective, how they can actually make them do their work better. That's the biggest challenge - we need more communications.
What is your proudest career achievement?
I've just got my staff engagements score of over sixty percent, compared to my organisation which has an average of fifty percent. I'm really proud of that.
I've just got a small team of forty people and they've worked very hard over the last twelve months or so. For the last seven years, everyone kept saying it was impossible but, over time, we can definitely get things done.
What’s next for you?
To contribute further to the asset management profession and promote the discipline to other organisations outside Auckland Council and outside New Zealand. I’m currently involved with PacificTA to develop an Asset Plan for the Samoan government.
When you’re not busy at work, what do you enjoying doing to unwind?
I like to go fishing on a boat. I've got a kayak as well but I haven't had a chance to take it on the water yet, I've been too busy. But that's one of my things - just looking out at the ocean - whether I catch a fish or not, I feel very relaxed.
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