Preshit Gawade, Ph.D., is a self-proclaimed engineer at heart, having spent the first half of his career as a scientist before pivoting to the oil and gas industry. A published author with more than 400 citations, he credits his time spent in the academic world to his versatile approach to working in the energy industry.
Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?
“For me, energy resonates with prosperity that defines quality of life. Hence, after completing chemical engineering, the energy industry was a natural choice. I started my career in technology and failed numerous times before delivering a sound product. I tell people that I am an engineer at heart and in business by choice. In later years of my career, I pivoted to more business-oriented roles—corporate strategy, market intel, deals and investment, portfolio management and financial analysis.”
What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?
“Oil and gas remains relevant and crucial in energy security and to build a resilient economy. I see a lot of activities being undertaken in the industry to adapt, prepare and pivot the business to more sustainable solutions and decarbonization. For me, having a front-row seat and being able to participate in this transition for the next 20 years is exciting.”
Describe a memorable professional experience.
“I started my professional journey in academia as a scientist and became a published author [with] 400-plus citations. Later, I pivoted to the industry due to my interest in applied engineering. And in the past several years, I have leveraged prior learnings to translate technology value to the customers and investors through strategic business planning and investment. This nonlinear journey gives me a 360-degree overview in the oil and gas sector and helps to connect the dots to transform core capabilities, invest in growth and position for tomorrow through business planning and investment.”
Who are your mentors?
“Whatever I have become, the good and the bad, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. People who mentored me over the years offered opportunities along the way and offered valuable advice. Some of the memorable advice I received: family first; reputation is everything; and listen to your mentors, but eventually do what is right for you. I do believe there is a strong link between achieving enterprise goals and one’s professional journey. Hence for the next few years, I want to build a purpose-driven energy organization and deploy resources to accelerate our industry path to new energy and decarbonization.”
What transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“The oil and gas industry is known to reinvent, understand and manage the market risk over the years. However, I believe drivers such as energy security, clean energy cost, volatility in commodity prices and climate policy [are] likely to intensify over the next few years. This complexity is likely to result in more uncertainty, demanding the industry to recalibrate its risk tolerance, investment approach and reevaluate the playbook.”
What has helped you develop your leadership abilities during your career?
“I live by two leadership rules: be humble and be hungry. First, acknowledge that there are a lot of knowledgeable people inside and outside your industry, so be open to learn from them and pivot as you learn new things (or unlearn old ways). Second, be hungry to achieve success, to deliver the results and learn new things. Follow the facts and the conviction, and take decisive action—even if sometimes it is an unpopular decision.”
What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry?
“First, embrace the uncertainty, be resilient and enjoy the ride. Second, look to learn from others, repurpose the learning and expand your comfort zone. Third, know the industry rules [and] follow them...just to know when to break them when necessary.”
1. I played several league cricket matches during my school/college days until my early 30s.
2. I like to brew—applying my chemical engineering knowledge for the betterment of humanity. I have prepared a few customized operating procedures for brewing beer.
3. I am a nerd at heart and have watched the “Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” series several times.