My favorite perk of my job – Wanderlust; says Piyush, who works in Oil & Gas industry in Singapore in conversation with Team MentorClub.in

Piyush Kumar - Consultant, Services at AVEVA

Contributing Writer – Aparna Bisht

Name – Piyush Kumar

Profession – Consultant, Services at AVEVA

Age – 31

Gender – Male

City – Singapore

Industry – Oil & Gas−Supply Chain Management

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/piyush-kumar-06a29918/

Insights

  1. Supply chain management-based roles in Oil & Gas industry are in high demand right now.
  2. One of the best things is traveling to foreign lands and getting to meet people from all over the world.
  3. One must keep abreast of the new software tools and be willing to learn as many of them!
  4. Spending the first few years at oil refineries gives a great boost to later years.
  5. Frequent traveling might take a toll on personal life.
  6. Oil refineries are usually situated in remote locations, which might not be a happy change for people coming from big cities.
  7. Having good interpersonal communications skills is a must.
  8. One has to be a good team player and respectful of other cultures.

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in Muzaffarpur (a small city in Bihar). I spent all my time there before moving to Engineering college. I studied in 4 different schools by the time I finished my higher secondary and that being in the same city all this while.

I switched from Hindi to English medium, then back to Hindi medium before finishing higher secondary school in English medium. At times, it was a real struggle! Fun fact−my high school fee was 2 INR per month. We paid 3 INR if there was Bollywood movie shown to us (if you work out the Maths then you realize how cheap the movie ticket was!). My parents stay in Muzaffarpur. I am the eldest of 3 siblings (2 brothers and 1 sister).

What is your family background?

Education has always been given utmost importance in our family. If my memory serves me right, then my great grandfather had a high post in Government of Bihar Education department. He was awarded by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and we still have that black & white picture framed at my native place. My late grandfather (2nd eldest of 6 brothers) retired as an Associate Professor (Mechanical Engineering) from Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology. He could not finish his PhD program in Germany and had to return to India midway due to personal reasons. My late grandmother was a home-maker and took care of the extended family. My dad was working for LIC of India and is happily retired now. My mother is a homemaker par excellence!

Who all had the most influence on you and how?

My late grandfather was truly an inspiring figure considering how much he achieved in his professional life and the help that he provided to his younger siblings by guiding them and supporting their education. He was my first teacher and taught me so many things before I took admission in a school which was 100 meters away from the house where we used to stay in the Engineering college campus. I strongly feel that the self-study trait in me comes from him and it helped me a lot while preparing for engineering entrance examinations. Lots of things that he did (writing papers, giving recommendations to his students) while I was a small kid did not make much sense to me at that time but later in all these years, I realized the importance of those activities. It is not surprising that I went to IIT Roorkee and stayed in the same hostel for 3 years from where my late grandfather did his master’s back in late 60s.

I have also been inspired deeply by my late grandmother and uncle who raised me and made sure that my childhood was not so boring. The sense of gratitude, affection towards others all the time is something that I give credit to my upbringing.

Please give us a summary of your career, chronologically, including organisation names and your role/designation.

  • July 2004−May 2008; Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India B. Tech. in Chemical Engineering
  • June 2008−Aug 2011; Reliance Industries Limited, Jamnagar Manager (Special Task Force, Technical Services)

I joined the largest refinery in the world, in Jamnagar, India as a Chemical engineer and was part of the technical services department named STF (Special Task Force). In STF, I was part of a profit improvement team which took care of the overall monitoring of refinery economics by doing retro analysis of refinery operations, blending operations and studying the refinery margins in different market scenarios. Besides this I was involved in hydraulic studies using software for adequacy check of flare systems and process guarantee validation of different units in Jamnagar Export Refinery.

  • Aug 2011−Jul 2016; KBC Advanced Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (A Yokogawa Company), Mumbai Consultant

After leaving Reliance, I joined KBC as a Senior Engineer and was promoted to Consultant in about 3 years from joining. The time spent at KBC was memorable as I travelled around the world to work with different clients in downstream refining sector. My role was to build/troubleshoot LP (Linear Programming) models of different refineries which help them in decision making while maximizing the profit margins. I also worked on few feasibility study projects and provided on−site training to client personnel. I also provided sales support proposals.

  • Aug 2016−Feb 2018; Schneider Electric Software, Singapore Consultant, Services Team

After spending 5 years in Mumbai, I moved to Singapore and joined Schneider Electric Software as a Consultant (Services Team). I have been supporting primarily clients in APAC on Spiral software evaluation (proof of concept studies) and model migration projects from legacy to Spiral. I also run public training courses twice a year for our clients in this region. In between, I provide support to the sales team as required from proposal, cost estimation to software demo. Spiral is the first unified supply chain software in oil & gas industry right from crude assay management, processing of crudes in refineries and all the way to product distribution.

  • Mar 2018−Present; Aveva, Singapore Consultant, Services Team

The industrial software business of Schneider Electric and AVEVA have been merged to create a new global leader in engineering and industrial software. Roles and responsibilities remain the same.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of this profession?

  • All the IITs
  • NITs
  • UICT, Mumbai
  • Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • VIT, Vellore
  • BITS Pilani
  • HBTI Kanpur

What are the costs associated with the education/training of this profession?

During my time at Roorkee, if my memory serves me right, then the institute fee was around 17–18k INR per semester. There was a hostel/mess fee of 5k INR per semester. These were the fixed fees every semester.

What are the typical entry level jobs in this profession?

Chemical engineering graduates can pursue many line of professions. Typical entry level job/designation would be that of process/design engineer. The per- son would be carrying out small tasks (helping senior people in their projects) while going through on-the-job training of familiarizing with different processes/technologies as well getting trained on software which would be of immense help in the future.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

(1 SGD=50 INR) Above figures are indicative and may vary from person to person

Describe your work? What do you typically do on a nor- mal work day?

Official working hours are from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM (including an hour for lunch break and coffee breaks), 5 days a week. Current company is very flexible with working hours and employees can come and leave at their convenience. At times one can work remotely as well if such a situation arises. Usual day-to-day activity would be to continue the client support and help responding their queries. Model migration projects may take an entire day of work (running up to weeks/months). I (and the team) also conduct public training courses which is very exciting, and we prepare well in advance for seamless delivery. Since I am part of global services team, we do have early morning/late evening meetings at times to accommodate various time zones. These calls can be attended from home. Workload is manageable, and I do get enough time in the evening time for sports/running & do some light cooking. I mostly work long hours if I am at the client site where usually after attending the meetings throughout the day, I would be preparing myself for the next day. So far, I have only worked once or twice on the weekends! And I do check my emails on Sunday afternoon/evening at times.

Fortunately, there are no night shifts in my current role. In fact, here is no shift work but if someone is working as a process engineer then he/she may have to work in shifts for the first few years.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

I am quite happy with my current role. As a Chemical Engineer, I had the opportunity to work in operations for 3 years, then spent 5 years doing technical consulting work and now have been working in Software company for almost 2 years. There are quite a few positives about my current role. My job profile allows me to travel frequently. Since no two projects are the same, you always need to think in a different way and propose different solutions to the challenging problems. I have been fortunate enough to work closely with people from varying background which helps you grow as a better person and also gives you different perspective about the ground level challenges faced by different clients. Being part of a global team, working environment is fun and you are free to work remotely (as long as you do not miss the deliverables dead- line!). Remuneration, in view, is at par if I compare myself with my friends in Oil & Gas industry who are working in operations, consulting, design or other software companies. Down the line, you can become the subject matter expert of your field & can be the head of the delivery team. There is always this option of switching to Sales/Business Development if you have good know−how of the industry working processes & the tools which are used. In short, there are quite a few options which can be considered later on.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

There is not much to complain about my current work. If I look back at my career so far, I have noticed that if someone starts working in a refinery then it could be challenging for people who have spent most of their time in big cities. Refineries are mostly located remotely, and the nearest town/city could be a tier 2 place. So, young graduates can find it boring.

In my current role, one challenge could be excessive traveling which does happen from time to time. Your daily routine takes a hit and you exercise less which could affect your health. So, it is very important to prioritize things in a manner such that you are not affecting your health or work.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding premium in your job profile?

Supply chain management-based roles in Oil & Gas industry are in high demand right now. Lots of management consulting companies, technical consulting companies and the software firms are looking for people with such skill set who have good understanding of refinery operations as well as understand the economics and key drivers which impacts the refinery profitability. So, learning LP software & getting used to LP model development at an early stage would definitely help a young graduate in the long run.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

Again, a very tricky question! If you end up in a consulting role like me, then you definitely need to enjoy traveling (mostly alone)! So, you should enjoy your company while traveling for work as there could be long term assignments or short visits! One should also be willing to accept & respect diverse cultures and be comfortable working with people from different background − nationality, race, working style! Being a good team player would take you a long way in this line of business. If you like working on a variety of projects (since each client brings their own set of challenges) and have good interpersonal skills, then you would definitely be satisfied.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

Being a die-hard sport (Cricket!!) fan all my life, I would have probably applied for job(s) at Cricinfo website. I could have been a commentator or a statistician. I would have loved to write about match previews, post-match reports. But again, this is just a wish! Who knows I might be doing it in a parallel universe!!

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

Most of the young graduates start their career by working in a refinery, generally in operations or technical services. I have seen a lot of them getting frustrated with living in very remote locations, even if there are good facilities provided by the company. In turn, they start looking for other jobs early in their career (primarily because they are not happy with the place).

I would strongly encourage them to spend 3−5 years (at least) working in such refineries as it gives a great launching pad later for switching jobs. They should focus on learning various process unit operations; the technology used and should also learn software based on their roles and responsibilities.

I know a lot of my friends who are doing very well wherever they are right now and almost all of them switched jobs after spending 3 years working in a refinery. Some did leave early but they decided to go for higher studies. Hence in the long run, these early years really matter a lot. Be mindful of the fact the recruiters give more weightage to such candidates who have spent 3+ years working in a refinery. The first couple of years are very steep learning curves. So, devote your time wisely and do not start looking for jobs from the very first day you join a refinery!

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