Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Hubert Thieriot
By Hubert Thieriot 26 October, 2021
On the 10th anniversary, CWR's former head of water risk valuation Thieriot reflects on his time with us & share his takeaways & tips
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CWR: Tell us about your time at CWR… When and why did you join? What did you do?
When and why did you join?
Hubert Thieriot (HT): I first came across China Water Risk’s work in late 2014, while looking for a thesis topic for a Master’s degree in Beijing. “No Water, No Power” it said… Add to this the great discovery of Ma Jun’s China’s Water Crisis, and I immediately felt here’s a fascinating topic for me to explore.
From then on, everything went smoothly: I reached out to my soon-to-be colleague, Hu Feng, and met him in Beijing. A couple of months later, I was in Hong Kong, officially becoming part of China Water Risk.
How long did you spend at CWR?
HT: I stayed roughly three years at CWR…
What did you do?
HT: …mainly focusing on the energy sector, analysing the implications of ever-evolving policies, the state of China’s environment, the physical and regulatory risk exposure of utility and mining companies etc.
CWR: Looking back to your time there, what do you consider as your biggest achievement? Part of the job included public speaking, any memorable firsts? Were you nervous, any tips?
HT: I am definitely more comfortable staring at a screen of code than talking to an audience of portfolio managers. It took me a while to overcome the impostor syndrome: talking about a country I was not originally from, often to an audience I never belonged to i.e. the secret society of investors.
Collaborating with the People’s Bank of China was definitely a high point
I wouldn’t single out a memorable event, although collaborating with the People’s Bank of China was definitely a high point. Similarly, it was immensely rewarding to do a roadshow among financial institutions in London, Stockholm, Singapore, and beyond.
CWR: Is your current work related to water? If so, how? If not, do you still keep tabs on water challenges?
HT: Partly so, as a hat of mine involves climate risk assessment (sea level rise, storm surges, floods etc.). However, most of my work now pertains to air pollution and energy transition.
CWR: Has CWR changed your career aspirations?
HT: Yes, although in slightly unexpected ways.
There can be tremendous value in trying things you have no particular inclination or feel ill-equipped for
I did quite a few things at China Water Risk where I felt I had no real comparative advantage, though I am very glad I did. So maybe here’s the tip you were asking for above: whilst we often advise young professionals to find the niche they excel at, I’d argue that there can be tremendous value in trying things you have no particular inclination or feel ill-equipped for.
Doing so helped me hone important skills I didn’t have and better appreciate the complementary talents of colleagues, while better identifying where my added value could be.
Working at CWR has helped me hone in… leveraging data to help solve environmental challenges
Ultimately, working at CWR has helped me hone in on what my skills and interests are: leveraging data to help solve environmental challenges. With the support of CWR and ADMCF, I spun off the Environmental Risk Profiler, an environmental risk assessment platform, which has further changed my career direction.
CWR: Do you think CWR has made a difference over the last decade? What is the biggest challenge you see today regarding water and climate risks?
HT: From what I’ve witnessed, our work definitely contributed to putting China’s dire water resources on the radar for important investors & funds. To what extent this translated into concrete actions, voting, and ultimately, corporate decisions, is a complex thing to assess.
As for water and climate risks overall, I’ve been amazed at the pace at which these issues have risen to prominence among non-professionals and professionals alike.
States’ cooperation, stricter regulations & bolder policies plus more widespread rationality are needed
Yet many challenges remain, and while trained as an engineer, I am everything but a “techno-solutionist” and do not think there are only win-win solutions ahead of us. So many ingredients are required, such as the ability of states to cooperate, ubiquitous pressure for stricter regulations and bolder policies, not to mention more widespread rationality in public and private conversations.
CWR: Three words/bullets on what makes CWR unique …
- A not-for-profit situated at the heart of a financial district;
- An eclectic mix of characters and backgrounds; and
- Friday drinks several times a week.
CWR: Any comments, advice to CWR on its 10th anniversary?
HT: Time flies… Happy anniversary CWR! I’m really glad I took part in that adventure and am excited for the upcoming ten years! Keep surprising us!
CWR: Any advice to those who want to join work in the water/climate space?
HT: I really don’t like dwelling on advice… Have I mentioned impostor syndrome? Anyhow, when it comes to career advice, I’d suggest checking 80,000 hours career guide, and if I’m allowed to sound cocky one more time, never cease to challenge yourself and your own organisation in getting better.
More on CWR 10-year anniversary
- Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Feng Hu – Former Waternomics lead Feng Hu shares how a small & idealistic team has ‘distilled’ the water conversation to effect changes for corporates & investors
- Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Hubert Thieriot – Former Head of Water Risk Valuation Hubert Thieriot shares his collaboration with PBOC & how CWR helped him to find his interest in solving environmental challenges with data
- Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Hongqiao Liu – Former principal researcher Hongqiao Liu reflects on how CWR has helped her see the value of cultivating knowledge & thinking strategically. Now she feels empowered to influence real changes
- Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Mark Harper – Former Project Manager Mark Harper shares how a water risk assessment project in CWR sparked his interest in ESG & corporate sustainability
- Ex-staff Perspective On 10 Years Of CWR: Woody Chan – Formerly in charge of CWR’s Project & Network, Woody Chan explains how rewarding & impactful time in CWR convinced him to continue working in the environmental space
- 10 Years Of CWR: McGregor Reflects on The Last 8 Years – Business Unusual Lead Dawn McGregor recounts how joining CWR helped find her mission and why she is looking forward to more adventures and challenges ahead
- 10 Years Of CWR: Mirando Reflects On The Last 4 Years – Investor Engagement & Water Risk Valuation Lead Dharisha Mirando shares how a drink in LKF has turned into 4 surprising & rewarding years at CWR
- 10 Years Of CWR: Tan Reflects On The Last Decade – Debra Tan shares with us the highs and lows of aiming high since the founding of CWR. From surreal wins to eco-depression If you want a behind-the-scenes tour of CWR – read this!
- Toward Water Risk Valuation – Investor Feedback on Various Methodologies Applied to 10 Energy ListCo’s – The report details investors’ feedback on various water risk valuation approaches: shadow pricing’s impact on P&L, balance sheet exposure to water stress and regulatory risks & compliance costs
10 listed energy majors operating in China have been analysed: five in coal mining and five in power generation. 70+ investment professionals/asset owners across various asset types (“Investors”) from more than 50 financial institutions/funds provided feedback on the results.
- Towards Water & Energy Security – China Water Risk published report titled “Towards A Water & Energy Secure China”. Tough choices lie ahead in power expansion with limited water. Find out what strategies are employed and get a comprehensive overview of water risk exposure across China’s power landscape
- Environmental Risks: What, Where & When? – Hubert Thieriot explains his new venture, Environmental Risk Profiler, an online solution to identify, monitor and anticipate environmental risks – find out how it works
- Quantifying Water Risk: What’s My Number? – Industries are exposed to water risks but financial valuation of such risks remain elusive. China Water Risk’s Thieriot reviews existing quantification tools & methods and highlights gaps that need to be filled to put a number on water risks
- No Safe Haven For Polluters – As affluent eastern Chinese provinces are cleaning-up, companies are relocating to inland provinces with more lenient regulations. China Water Risk’s Hubert Thieriot explores this pollution haven effect & why it can be a short-sighted strategy