Pravin Patel, Director Engineering – Power Solutions, NexTier Completion Solutions, is a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program. He recently shared his insights on the energy services and technology sector.
ENERGY WORKFORCE: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?
Pravin Patel: My role as the Director of Engineering for Power Solutions encompasses managing a team responsible for growth and sustaining projects, technical support for operations and maintenance. Day-to-day, I navigate project progress and setbacks to guide business plans and look for opportunities to innovate and improve execution. As our business is maturing, I’ve spent more time advancing our maintenance and training processes.
EW: Why did you join the energy industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision?
PP: My father worked in the downstream side of the business. His success throughout his career opened my eyes to the opportunities available to those who work hard and deliver results.
EW: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like, and how did it guide your path?
PP: Again, I turned to my father for advice on my career choices and progression. His example led me to stick with a single organization, looking at each role and challenge as an opportunity to learn something and use it in the next chapter of my career.
EW: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
PP: Looking back, I undervalued the human involvement in the industry. As an engineering student, the focus was always on technology, but as soon as I got to the field I realized the value between a solid team and one that wasn’t. As I move into different roles, I keep seeing examples of how important it is for technology to support the team and not the other way around.
EW: What has surprised you most about the industry?
PP: I knew the industry was volatile going in but seeing it up close through 2015 and 2020 could be described in many ways, including surprising. The ability of the industry to adapt and then turn around and scale quickly will probably be a case study for MBA students in the years ahead.
EW: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
PP: There must be significant collaboration and compromise between our industry and its critics. We talk about living above the line in the Executive Leadership Program, and our industry needs to change its perception to investors and the public.
EW: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
PP: As a leader within the Power Solutions team here at NexTier, I strive to drive the industry to maximize the use of natural gas as a low emission, reliable and cost-effective replacement to diesel.
EW: How has your involvement in Energy Workforce supported your career goals?
PP: Energy Workforce events help me to network with individuals in industry, but outside of my immediate network. I’ve found these events give me the opportunity to expand my perspective on how NexTier’s business is conducted within and compared to the industry as a whole.
EW: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
PP: Primarily, our NexTier Power Solutions VP, Aaron Hilber, has expanded my thinking by driving our business to turn a problem within the industry into an opportunity.
I also recently attended Energy Workforce’s Executive Address given by Mike Reeves, President & CEO, Shawcor. One of the well-delivered messages in his address was that there is no substitute for hard work. It made me realize how important that principle is to my leadership style and my career.
EW: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the sector that impressed you?
PP: High pressure hose systems for frac applications have impressed me by reducing risk to crews on the wellsite, and the efficiencies compared to traditional frac iron.
EW: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
PP: The industry is large, but your network quickly gets small. Many of the people you work with at the start of your career will come back around as you advance.
EW: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
PP: From 2005 to 2015, 65% of the total CO2 emissions reductions in U.S. power generation were a result of transitioning from coal to natural gas compared to 30% of the total reductions provided by renewables. How we utilize fossil fuels has the potential to be as impactful to our environment as renewables.
EW: What do you do for fun?
PP: I enjoy golfing and take any chance I can to go snowboarding, which I picked up during college in Colorado.
EW: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
PP: I like to get away from the tourist traps and dive into experiencing the culture of a new place firsthand.
EW: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
PP: I’ve worked for four different companies, but I have never left my job.
Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.