Something I have always found interesting about humans as social individuals is how you can find so much diversity within a group. All of the stories I have shared with you here on the Talent View have had different inceptions, outcomes, and especially passions. Some have a passion for biology, others for only fish, others for sustainability. Today I bring Andrés Muñoz ‘s story. His passion is for innovation and you will see that as we move along his story.
Andrés is a 37-year-old Chilean. He is currently the Land-Based Project Manager for Akva Group Land Based. Andrés graduated as an Aquaculture Engineer from Universidad Católica de Temuco and has an MBA from Universidad de Chile. So let’s start from the beginning.
Many factors influenced Andrés’ decision to study Aquaculture. There is not just ONE thing that he can say is the one that made him choose Aquaculture as a career. He grew up on the Greater Island of Chiloe, where a big part of the Chilean Aquaculture industry is found. “I was able to see how the industry was evolving. How life in the island was evolving with the industry”.
The other thing is that when he was a child his grandfather used to work at a Mussel Culture site. “Growing up I would visit the site all the time. I was able to walk around, know, and have talks with people. I was always surrounded by that closeness to marine activity, not only by living on an island that is in fact surrounded by water. That was a big drive in my decision. I wanted to study something that kept me close to life at sea in a way”.
An Interest for RAS
The Aquaculture industry has many ways of producing and many products and outcomes. Chilean Salmon industry is the Second Largest on the planet. So, having so many options to choose from, I asked Andrés why he chose RAS. “I think everything started when I was doing my internship. That was the first time I had direct contact with RAS. And from that moment and on I became fascinated with the concept of purifying and reutilizing water. A resource that is so scarce. But another thing that caught my interest was the capability the systems have for new and different technologies. All different, but integrated into one big system. Disinfection, Filtration, Pumping, Sensors, and I could keep going. And how all those can increase productivity”.
It was there where he found his drive in the aquaculture industry. Invest himself in that side of the industry. Get involved in companies that were implementing and using RAS technologies. He fell in love with everything RAS stands for and is pretty sure he will never stop working with it. Is something that for him is not only entertaining as he gets to learn new things all the time. But is something that he really enjoys doing. Watching sustainability, technology, and productivity walk by the hand.
Why Akva Group?
“I think as a professional who loves technology and new developments it´s mandatory to be part of a company and teamwork that is on the edge.”
Andrés has worked for the Akva group in two different opportunities. His first time with Akva he worked as a RAS Consultant in Chile, Canada, and Australia. In Australia, he lived for two years. His job was to support and work alongside customers with the goal of modernizing their production plan. Converting it from a flow-through system to a RAS Facility. He describes this experience as very productive and useful. It provided him with the tools to understand how the industry and people in other locations work. “The way they organized daily works and tasks in Australia were quite different from those I had seen on Chilean Companies. Most people involved in RAS daily operations were educated professionals who would take all the work into their own hands. This facilitates learning processes and decision-making”.
Between 2016-2018 Andrés took a break from his relationship with AKVA. To continue his Graduate studies and explore new work challenges that would reinforce his skills in aquaculture and RAS.
The reason he decided to get back to Akva is that the field started getting more developed within the company and gave him the opportunity to continue honing and developing his skills. They had recently purchased Aquatec Solutions. Aquatec was a company that was well-positioned with a strong RAS Technology background. This grew Akva’s client portfolio. “And since I liked the way Akva worked and liked the people at the organization, it was a no-brainer for me. I saw the opportunity and took it”.
What Aquaculture Means to Andrés
“If I had to use one word I would say is defiant. The industry is challenging per se. Aquaculture is full of well-prepared people, people that are specialists in different areas. Areas such as Biology, engineering, design, chemistry, management, etc. And it has become very important for me to verse myself in the different aspects and different fields. This way I can dialogue and understand where people are coming from. Having a productive and proactive interaction with the different teams I work with”.
Andrés’ passion for technology, innovation, and learning different aspects of the industry, has him committed to delivering optimal results. His duty is in interacting with all the areas of the project and the clients. This means he has to keep himself updated about different areas of knowledge. And dealing with all the different people has represented a challenge in itself.
Technology vs Biology
Evidently, the one thing that summons us here is fish production. For whichever end and product, it may be. But for Andrés, his interest goes beyond the biology of the industry. As a technology provider, he wants to know and works towards how the biological results are improving with the use of technology. “This is where the industry is headed and technology and RAS will keep gaining more relevance. They will help us increase production and power in the industry. Aquaculture is reaching places where you would never imagine to have production, all thanks to technology”.
Technology has indeed made biological processes more optimal and efficient. With this, sustainability and profitability have also increased. Growing up I always heard that all roads lead to Rome. But in Aquaculture, Technology leads to all paths. Technology is behind everything in the industry nowadays.
Where do you See Yourself in the Next Five Years?
Cliché I know, but in an industry that is looking always to the future, I believe this is an important question to ask. Andrés says he says he sees himself working in the development and implementation of new technologies. Being able to incorporate new technologies for water treatment, monitoring/control, feeding systems, etc. “I see myself working tightly in development. Making businesses more efficient and profitable. I always try to imagine what the aquaculture industry would be like in 20-30 years. And then start working towards trying to reach that in the next 5 to 10 years.”