Carving a Career Path in the Oil and Gas Industry – Decoding Karishma Laskar’s EMBA Journey

Karishma Laskar, hailing from the vibrant city of Nagaon, Assam, has made a significant impact as an Executive Engineer, Offshore Projects at ONGC. Her unwavering commitment to excellence and extensive knowledge make her an invaluable asset in the ever-evolving world of Oil & Gas projects.

She enrolled in SP Jain’s EMBA program to upskill herself, bring more value to her current role as a Project Engineer, transition to a business leader, and reach new heights of success and fulfilment.

Find out how SP Jain’s Executive MBA unlocked a treasure trove of opportunities for her within the workplace and across the industry.

Would you like to tell us a bit about your personal and professional life?

Born in Nagaon, a small town in Assam, I completed my schooling at Christ Jyoti school and graduated from Cotton University, which has completed more than 120 years of glorious existence. After this, I pursued Electrical Engineering at Jorhat Engineering College, Assam and brought accolades to my family as the Gold medallist of the batch.

Later, I got placed in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation through college placements and became a part of the company, entrusted with ensuring energy security for the nation.

I started as an Assistant Executive Engineer (Electrical) in Drilling Services. Post that, I joined as a Project Engineer in Offshore Engineering Services, a specialised business unit for creating offshore oil and gas facilities. It has been eight years of holistic experience in ONGC in the areas of Project and Contract Management, right from the conceptualisation to the execution offshore. Now, I have been entrusted with the job of Strategy and Management Support Group of Head of Design in strategising project formulation and addressing key execution issues of projects.

How did you discover SP Jain’s EMBA Program? Why did you choose to pursue it?

I was already at a juncture where I wanted to upskill myself without leaving my job, as I was working for one of the coveted oil and gas companies in the country. So, I narrowed down the list of colleges to enrol at for an EMBA program. Among others, SP Jain School of Global Management stood out in terms of the faculty, exceptional alumni from around the globe, and state-of-the-art ELO technology. Without second thoughts, I went for the program after viewing the curriculum and understanding how it could help me apply those learnings at the workplace.

What skills did you develop as a part of the EMBA program? How are you applying those skills at your workplace?

I believe finance and strategy courses as a part of the EMBA curriculum sharpened my analytical skills. Solving the umpteenth number of case studies, I developed strategic thinking by analysing each case study using a structured approach and devising a framework as applicable.

All the subjects gave me an understanding of the areas of strategy using business consulting frameworks and marketing concepts, project finance and M&A in the context of valuation in projects, operations, concepts of negotiation, use of statistical tools, and skills required for writing academic papers. It also helped me develop design thinking and problem-solving abilities and hone my leadership skills. Courses such as GSIP, IDM and ASP were the highlights as I could apply my learnings acquired in those courses. 

Post my EMBA, I saw a transformation in my interpersonal skills and the ability to manage teams effectively. I implemented my Applied Strategy Project learnings at the workplace and presented them in numerous business forums attended by senior-level executives of my company. Moreover, I wrote academic papers on strategy and project management, which have been published in FIPI and other conferences, bulletin boards, etc.

I could successfully get results by implementing value chain mapping and flow processes in some of the process areas of my workplace. I also worked on strategy and creative thinking for some problem areas in my organisation and suggested ideas on idea-sharing online platforms. In addition, I have delivered presentations at oil and gas conferences and corporate events attended by over 150 professionals from across the industry.

Furthermore, I have been honoured with awards and recognition. I represented my company in the All-India Management Association NYCM 2021 competition and emerged in the Young Managers PSU category.

How did SP Jain’s EMBA program help upscale your career?

I am already working in the Operations profile in my company, and having a specialisation introduced me to the tools or frameworks and concepts I can use in my workplace or to build a career in Operations. Being associated with Strategy and Management Support Group has also helped me think strategically about the company’s problems and how I can devise a solution or a logical approach using the right resources or tools.

Peer-to-peer learning, group discussions, and team exercises have helped me bring out my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I could network with people outside my industry and unlearn and relearn with our discussions through case studies or group work. I personally feel that EMBA from SP Jain has enhanced my credibility, boosted my confidence and increased my net worth in my employer’s eye. It has motivated me to handle more workload and improve my knowledge base about business processes. Furthermore, it has helped me fetch opportunities in other reputed companies in the energy sector.

Would you like to tell us about your current role as a Project Engineer at ONGC?

As an Executive Engineer involved in Offshore Capex projects, I am entrusted with planning the scope of work/bid package preparation to build facilities to exploit oil and gas resources, inputs in schedule and cost management, stakeholder management during the project life cycle, overseeing engineering and dealing with contractors and suppliers to safely execute work offshore. It also has a plethora of activities, right from gathering inputs for the business case and project conceptualisation, tendering processes, bidder selection and evaluation, and post-award dealing with contractors for the execution of work offshore. In the Management Support role, I develop strategies for executing different natures of projects, ways of improving tendering mechanisms, managing teams, resource planning, preparing reports and slide decks related to projects status for stakeholders and addressing key strategic issues in the project.

How has the O&G industry been impacted by the pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a sharp decline in demand for oil and gas products as economic activities across the globe were curtailed by lockdowns and restrictions.

At that juncture, projects were at a halt, and uncertainties in project execution rose due to supply chain disruptions and financial stress of bidders got affected due to the pandemic, fluctuating steel and fuel prices, resource crunch, constraints on manpower movement etc. All oil and gas majors, including ONGC, had cost reductions to cope with the losses and automation to reduce human intervention.

With climate change concerns, most of the oil and gas majors accelerated their green energy portfolio because of the incentives in green energy projects over O&G projects given by the government and funding sources. Companies anticipated that this decline in oil and gas and rise in hydrogen and other renewables could be a deterrent, and the need to expand their energy basket to a mixed one to meet the energy gaps of the economy was high.

Also, the need of the hour for companies was to reduce human intervention and carry out operations safely. ONGC adopted several digital initiatives for vendors, such as an online invoice payment portal, an online mode of file transfer for statutory clearances due to less manpower at the office, giving access to employees to VPN to facilitate work from home etc.

Do you have any advice for professionals who wish to pursue an EMBA program? How can they make the most of their SPJ journey?

If you want to accelerate your career without leaving your job, SP Jain’s EMBA is just right for you. It will introduce you to the world of management and equip you with the required skillset and knowledge of the business world. Moreover, it will give you an edge over others in terms of overall personality and change how you think and respond to any business problem at your workplace. This program will bring the best out of you and make you a better version of yourself in your future endeavours.

I would advise you to be yourself, work on your strengths and study by making the most of what is offered in the program. Try to be active and have key takeaways from every session. And most importantly- enjoy!

Click here to read more stories from SP Jain’s EMBA students and alumni.

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