Syed Muhammad Fahim Ud Din, ESG Performance Lead, Sales & Commercial, Schlumberger, is a graduate of the Council’s ESG Certification Program. He recently shared his insights on the energy services and technology sector.
COUNCIL: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?
Syed Muhammad Fahim Ud Din: I serve as the performance lead for ESG for the global Sales & Commercial group. Prior to this, I have served as the sustainability champion for the Well Construction Division. My core responsibilities are to educate the stakeholders of ESG, work with customers to form partnerships, inform them of our technological offerings, work on ESG communications, and respond to customer inquiries on ESG. A typical workday is well consumed in discharging any number of these duties.
COUNCIL: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?
Syed: I joined the energy industry almost straight out of college. I was influenced by one of my seniors who had recently joined the industry and described the wonders of endless training, adventures of field life and high technology. As a freshly minted electronics engineer, all of this spoke to me directly.
COUNCIL: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?
Syed: My first operations manager in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Shuja Goraya, has been a lightning rod for me throughout my career. He identified my talent for a first level management position, helped me polish it and was never short of good advice whenever I needed a word or two of wisdom. A decade and a half later, I still reach out to him whenever I’m hit by a conundrum, especially for my career choices.
COUNCIL: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
Syed: In my first five years, I saw it as an industry on the cutting edge of technology and doing the good job of bringing energy to the world for its growth. In the next five years, I started seeing the inefficiencies of the industry, the way it was asset and capital intensive, and falling behind on the climate debate. In the last five years, I have seen the industry evolve, become more agile and nimble, and waking up to its responsibility towards climate change.
COUNCIL: What has surprised you most about the industry?
Syed: A positive surprise is how technologically advanced this industry is, and how people outside the industry don’t know that. A negative surprise is how some processes and practices waste time, money and resources and have never been changed in the absence of regulation, oversight or investor pressure.
COUNCIL: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
Syed: I believe the industry will embrace the future. I hope it will drive the narrative of being a partner of choice for the future growth that the planet needs. We all need energy, generated responsibly, to alleviate the challenges of the energy-poor world, and to work towards a more productive and inclusive society.
COUNCIL: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
Syed: I plan to lead from the front – to shape the narrative and to communicate it, and to be a foot soldier in making sure that the narrative is not a heap of empty words but rather backed by solid actions and proper science.
COUNCIL: How has your involvement in the Council supported your career goals?
Syed: I was desperately searching for some sort of structured education to inform myself on sustainability. When I came across this course offered by the Council, I pounced on it. Midway through the course, I was offered my job as the ESG lead, which had been my ambition. So, this course has been a true enabler.
COUNCIL: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
Syed: Karen Spenley, who works as the Technology Sustainability Advisor for Schlumberger and represents us at IPIECA.
COUNCIL: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the energy services and technology sector that impressed you?
Syed: Ora, a Schlumberger Wireline Technology, can help replace some of the well testing by a clever technique called Deep Transient Testing. This saves massively on well footprint, and on the vented methane, saving hundreds of tons of CO2.
COUNCIL: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
Syed: Be ready for a bumpy ride but enjoy it while it lasts. The industry rewards grit and perseverance, and like all industries, the more you can upskill and reskill yourselves, the higher you can climb.
COUNCIL: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
Syed: I wish they knew that we are not the bad guys. We are part of the solution, and we are in the best position to help.
COUNCIL: What do you do for fun?
Syed: I like to read books, browse news and watch an occasional movie. Best idea for fun would be to play some sort of outdoor or board game with kids.
COUNCIL: What’s a fun fact that people would never guess about you?
Syed: I have never been a (good) swimmer. I have tried and failed three times. I’ll still jump in a pool to give it a try any day. I am also training for my first marathon.