Where did you grow up? Tell us about some important stages of your life in regards to schooling, education, experience abroad and so forth.
I was born in Mumbai, India. My parents moved to New Plymouth, New Zealand; a small town of 80,000 people where the two main growth industries are farming and oil and gas.
At school, I disliked physics so never thought I would be an engineer but in Year 11, I found out there was a course called chemical engineering, which didn’t involve any physics! I finished high school in 2012 and moved to Auckland to study a Bachelor of Chemicals and Materials Process Engineering. My degree required me to complete professional work placements, which I did during my summer holidays.
I completed one placement with Todd Energy as a vacation student in reservoir engineering. This was my first professional introduction to the oil and gas industry. I found the industry fascinating and could see the global energy mix was changing.
I later attended a lecture, where a student in my course talked about her internship experience at Woodside Energy in Perth. I applied for the Summer Vacation Program that night and completed a placement in the Long-term Forecasting team in reservoir engineering.
I really enjoyed my time in Perth and thought Woodside was an innovative company, able to adapt to change and had an interesting future. I was offered a graduate reservoir engineering role with Woodside and jumped at the chance!
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
In 2017 I moved from Auckland to Perth to start full-time work at Woodside. The graduate program is three years long and graduates rotate every year into a new role. My first placement was in the Technology team.
Most people who are reservoir engineers studied petroleum engineering. I had not, so had a steep learning curve ahead of me. I learnt more in this year at work than I ever did at university, including data analytics, reservoir engineering, corporate style working, project management, coding and production modelling.
During my first year, I went offshore to a drill rig which was an eye-opening experience and one of the highlights of the year. I really enjoyed the role, but I decided that I didn't want to be a reservoir engineer for the rest of my life.
I’m interested in climate change and the energy transition: I found out there was an environmental function within Woodside and there were people who worked as senior climate change advisers. I asked if I could work in this niche team in a graduate role and was given the opportunity to do so!
How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
The options to apply at Woodside as a chemical engineering graduate were for roles in materials, process and reservoir management. I chose reservoir because I hadn’t had any exposure to reservoir engineering at university and enjoyed it during my vacation work at Todd Energy.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
After the application process, there were two steps in the interview process:
My interview was conducted by Skype as I didn't live in Perth, but Woodside has changed that now – all students that reach this stage fly to Perth for an assessment centre.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
My aim is for my career to continue in sustainable energy. There are so many new courses these days in renewable energy management, solar energy and sustainability in general. I would recommend getting core skills as an engineer and then choosing what path to go down. For example, a solar company will always need electrical engineers. If you are interested in the financial side of things, a joint degree with commerce is beneficial to understand the wider business context of projects.
Are there any soft skills it would beneficial for them to develop?
Soft skills are key to a successful professional career. You could be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t communicate your ideas effectively and consider other points of view it will be very hard to progress solutions. Groups like Toastmasters are extremely helpful in developing these soft skills and there are lots of free online resources that students can access.
Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
I think my vacation work experience was one of the main reasons as to why I got my job at Woodside. I would say that while you should study what interests you, you’ll be much more employable if you also have some work experience under your belt. Even if you’ve had a part-time job while studying that is unrelated to the field you’re looking to work in, you’re gaining really good transferable skills and experiences that you can talk about in interviews.
What does your employer do?
Woodside is Australia’s largest gas producer, supplying 6% of the world’s liquefied natural gas (LNG).
What are your areas of responsibility?
Climate change, emissions forecasting, emissions reporting, new technologies (eg hydrogen), carbon capture and storage, climate change strategy and governance, government policy and legislation, safeguard mechanism and carbon offsets.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
My main job for the year is to support robust emissions forecasts for all our assets. At the moment I am building these forecasts, but an important part of my role is developing the processes and technical capabilities so that others can build and maintain them.
In my second year, I had the opportunity to go offshore to a drill rig in Myanmar – a highlight of the year. I also went to Exmouth for a simulated oil spill exercise as part of the onshore shoreline cleanup assessment team.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
People who are curious, energetic and passionate.
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
There are several jobs I would like to pursue at Woodside. We are in an energy transition, so I think roles focusing on sustainable energy are only going to increase in the future.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely. Anyone who is passionate about the subject and willing to learn and work hard could do this job.
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I love that I am trying to address such an important issue in society today, working with a company that is committed to being part of the solution to climate change. It is an ever-changing space; every day there are new developments around renewable energy technology, energy efficiency targets, policy and legislation. No two days are the same.
I like that I am getting to build my technical skill set in the emissions forecasting sense, but am also exposed to strategy and governance on the same topic. It is a role that allows you to get involved in lots of different parts of the company. I learn new things every day at work that I want to go home and research more in my spare time; it’s awesome.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I am very interested in the sustainable foods industry. The food industry faces similar problems as the energy industry, with limited supply and ever-increasing demand. Not only is our population increasing, but people are demanding access to more nutritious food. Vertical farming powered by renewable energy also interests me. They say millennials will have at least five careers in their lifetime, so I guess we will see what the future holds!
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?