Syed Fahim

Global ESG Lead, SLB, Houston
Fahim, Syed

A friend told Syed Fahim that he could expect “a lot of learning and a lot of adventure” in the oil and gas industry. He looked into it and was smitten. The native of Chichawatni, Pakistan, has established himself as an influencer in the industry, one who was promoting sustainability before it was cool.

Which career milestone did you reach sooner than you had planned, and what helped you reach it earlier than expected?
“I wanted to pursue a career in sustainability ever since my MBA in 2019. I volunteered for one of the first positions in 2020 and landed a dedicated sustainability focused role in 2022. I did not expect this transition to happen so fast in an industry still trying to find its narrative on this subject. Working with corporate leaders in an enterprise-wide influencing role was something I had not envisioned at this stage of my career.”

What qualities do you think are necessary to be a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“Willingness to learn and update your knowledge continuously. Being agile and able to read the pulse of the industry and its stakeholders. Willingness to sacrifice short-term gains for long-term benefit. And, most importantly, being able to bridge gaps and get a seat at the table for all discussions that impact the future of this industry.”

How have you exercised leadership to help shape your company?
“I have been a co-leader of SLB leadership employee resource group (ERG) that boasts a membership of 3,500+ employees. Using the platform, I and my co-leaders have been able to promote topics like sustainability and DE&I way before they entered the popular parlance. We also set up mentoring circles, provide quick leadership tips, hold leadership webinars, in-person sessions, book clubs and a host of other engagements at a global level.”

What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry?
“It is a time of a great transition. Learn more, know how to contribute, lead the change that you wish to take place in the industry. It is easy to feel bad or point the finger to ourselves and others and blame—the hard bit and the real challenge is to bring change and be part of the solution to the problem of environmental damage that will affect our future generation. Shying away from the problem, or being apologetic without taking concrete action will get us nowhere.”

What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?
“I believe this industry has the potential to solve the problem of energy transition. It has a century-long history of project management, technology adoption, safety, economically beneficial decision making, job creation and transformation. With the tide turning in favor of sustainability, I feel that industry is not fighting against it but instead trying to move faster towards it. This keeps me hopeful about the industry.”

What are your goals for your future in the industry?
“I wish to continue being a change maker, an impact person in any capacity. If it means being a business leader, or a thought leader, or a foot soldier—so be it. I hope to be an influencer to bridge the misunderstanding between the modern energy industry and the people who despise it due to its past and current polluting practices. I want to become that business person who can prove the case of sustainability.”

Three More Things
  1. I ran my first half-marathon in 2020, and since then have run a full marathon, another half and a sprint triathlon. I am planning to run the NYC marathon later this year as part of an energy advocacy group.
  2. I am a Fundamental of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) credential holder from IFRS and a Sustainability and Climate Risk (SCR) credential holder from GARP, as well as a co-author of an SPE paper on quantification of carbon footprint while drilling.
  3. In the annual off-site gathering of our global sustainability team, we were asked to identify the most memorable attribute of every team member. Mine was identified as, “He’s so funny!”