For anyone granted the pleasure of speaking with 74-year-old (as of July 14) Allan Bo Andersson, it is apparent that he is passionate about his work.
Indeed, one of the many pieces of advice he offers young people and especially new engineers is to seek a career they love rather than the one that will give them the largest paycheck.
“Love what you are doing, do more of it and develop a passion for it,” Andersson said. “Be the very best at it and people will recognize you, as you will become a go-to person.”
Residing in Cambridge, New York, Andersson spent most of his 52-year career at Flomatic Corp., starting as an engineer in 1969 and ending as the president/chief executive officer (CEO) in 2021. He currently works as the director of research and development at Boshart Group and is a member of the National Groundwater Association (NGWA), the Submersible Wastewater Pump Association (SWPA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
Andersson’s favorite part of working in the industry, he says, has been the people he’s been surrounded by and being able to serve communities on such a broad scale.
“Working in our ‘essential industry,’ as defined by the government, is a noble profession, as all Americans are depending on the water and wastewater industry in their daily lives,” Andersson said. “I have had the honor of working on several critical jobs affecting people in our largest cities and bringing fresh water to our nation’s farmland.”
Although Andersson enjoys the work he does, every job comes with challenges. One such challenge that Andersson has faced throughout his career has been managing the ups and downs of the economy.
“The volatility of the financial markets and politics have less impact on our industry than other sectors of our economy,” he said. “Still, the ups and downs throw a curveball in most people’s plans, and you have to adjust.”
Another challenge Andersson names is the growing regulations on the water and wastewater industry from federal and local government. Although he recognizes this as a roadblock for some, he only sees an opportunity.
“The key is to be proactive and spot new trends,” Andersson said. “Adjust your sails to them or your boat will stop.”
As for changes he has seen in the industry, Andersson cites the biggest as the improvement of water and wastewater systems’ efficiency and reliability with new available technology such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and other remote control tools.
“This puts an emphasis on more education and training in building a higher skill set on everyone’s level in the industry,” Andersson said. “The introduction of a system approach when designing and constructing a new water or wastewater plant to maximize performance has helped the industry.”
As for advice for the next generation, Andersson has lots.
“Develop good communication skills,” he said. “Anything worthwhile doing should be done with a sense of urgency, commitment and completion. No halfway commitments, as you will only cheat yourself. If you fall and fail, get up quickly, change and try again harder. Moreover, and very important, have fun doing it!”