An alliance of businesses in the business of water

In conversation with: Mark Henderson

May 28, 2019

Mark Henderson is an experienced property and commercial lawyer with KelledyJones. He is also a Water Industry Alliance Board Member. The WIA sat down with Mark to discuss what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for the water sector and the role he plays on the Water Industry Alliance Board.

Tell me a bit about your role with KelledyJones

Overwhelmingly our clients are in the local government sector and my role in the business is to provide those clients with advice on their commercial dealings. This can range from a review of a services agreement or lease through to supporting a client through a multi-million dollar infrastructure project. Advising in the commercial sphere certainly ensures that I don’t get bored because there is something different every day and often I am working on projects that are at the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

What attracted you to a career as a lawyer?

As long as I remember I wanted to be a lawyer – it started with watching Perry Mason in black and white with my parents – so originally I wanted to be a criminal lawyer, but the irony is that I have seen the inside of a courtroom only a couple of times in my fifteen years of practice.

What do you see as the big opportunities for the water industry right now?

With the focus on climate change around the country and the world at the moment, the water industry is well positioned to identify and commercialise technologies that can assist with climate change adaptation or minimisation. There is funding available for this kind of research and development, both in Australia and overseas. We have seen some real success stories of members who are making inroads into markets in India and Singapore particularly.

What do you see as the challenges for the water industry now and into the future?

The market in South Australia is significant, but for the industry to be successful, I think that businesses will likely need to consider markets outside the state. This is, of course, an opportunity as well as a challenge, since the goods and services supplied by the industry can be used all over the country and the world.

The main challenge presented by this is for businesses to be ‘export ready’ – able to scale up their processes to supply beyond their current market segments, and to do so without jeopardising their current core business.

There are grants and funding available to businesses in South Australia to assist with this, and the Alliance has done a lot of work in this area to help our members be ready to capitalise on the opportunities that exist here and around the world.

Given your background and current role, what do you bring to the Water Industry Alliance Board, and how do you feel you can influence the water industry going forward?

Having a lawyer on a board is seen to be desirable, but it will obviously depend on the lawyer and their experience. In my case, I bring experience of advising not-for-profit clients on corporate governance and commercial matters. I think that this allows me to work with the other board members to ensure that these issues are considered in the decision making process, with the other members of the board bringing their own experience and expertise to bear as well. The board works very collegially and everyone’s contributions are well thought through and well received.

The Alliance is a representative association, so my role is to represent the interests of the members of the Alliance. How I can influence the industry in the future relies on me understanding the needs of the members and as a result, I am always happy to speak to members about what assistance they may need from the Alliance, or from other sources, and that will then allow me to work with the other board members to find a way to help our members.