Energy Leader

Energy Leader

From Aberdeen to Energy Leader - Aftab ZafarAftab Zafar

MSc Oil and Gas Enterprise Management
From Aberdeen to Energy Leader

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
Aberdeen serves as a pivotal hub for the European oil and gas markets. Throughout my professional journey, I have encountered numerous individuals who had earned their degrees from the University of Aberdeen. Their experiences and accomplishments inspired me to pursue my postgraduate master's degree at Aberdeen. It is a city deeply entrenched in the world of oil and gas, offering unique opportunities to step onto a rig, engage with professionals at the university, and even visit major companies like BP, Chevron, and Shell, all of which operate in the area.

Why did you choose your particular course?
The oil and gas industry has faced various challenges in recent history. With the growing prominence of renewable energy sources, the sector must adapt its business models to align with shifting market dynamics and evolving consumer preferences while also addressing global demand. This is where the concept of entrepreneurship comes into play. From technical aspects to commercial, legal, and financial management within the energy industry, the course covered a wide range of topics. The curriculum at Aberdeen provided me with the tools necessary to facilitate the transformation of existing business models into sustainable and environmentally friendly portfolios.

If while at Aberdeen you benefited from a scholarship, what was the scholarship and what difference did it make to your time at Aberdeen?
I joined Aberdeen as a Chevening Scholar from Pakistan, which not only provided essential financial support but also facilitated invaluable connections with a diverse and influential network of energy leaders hailing from various countries around the world. These connections have been instrumental in broadening my perspective, sharing insights, and fostering collaborative opportunities in the dynamic field of energy.
What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
Aberdeen will forever hold a special place in my heart as my second home. I fell in love with the city and cherished the experience of being connected with students from all around the world. This connection led to lasting friendships that I know will stand the test of time. Our connections were so strong that we all ended up attending the wedding of my classmate from Mexico. We had a memorable reunion at his wedding in 2022, and Mexico, added an extra layer of cultural richness to our bond.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
I would recommend students to explore the entire city by foot, actively engage in all the seminars and activities offered by Aberdeen, and seize every opportunity to visit local attractions, whether through the university or independently. Building meaningful connections with teachers and professors is crucial, as their mentorship will prove invaluable throughout your life. During your time there, don't forget to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of Scotland. You'll be amazed by the breathtaking sights as you journey through the Highlands.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Head of Business Development and Joint Ventures at KPOGCL, State Owned Oil and Gas Company, Pakistan.

What did your first role involve?
I successfully negotiated multi-million-dollar contracts with Russian investors and Chinese and Pakistani organizations to establish refineries, streamlining operations and maintaining strong relationships. I also led the development of business strategies, fostering collaboration among various departments and overseeing the investment strategy for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) oil and gas sector. I conducted economic modeling and analyses for exploration fields and negotiated terms with stakeholders.

What is your current job title?
Head of Management Operations at MOL Group (MOL Pakistan Oil and Gas Co. B.V.).

What is your current role?
I serve as the Head of Management Operations and hold the position of Chair for the Pakistan Chapter of the Association of Energy Negotiators, an American institute.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
In subsequent roles, I played a key role in a European firm, leading a strategic business transformation that resulted in a substantial positive impact of USD 550 million. Over the past five years, I chaired the Steering Committee of the Association of International Energy Negotiators, Pakistan Chapter, where I collaborated with government officials, industry leaders, and regulatory authorities to enact significant changes, including reforms in petroleum pricing resulting in streamlined availability of fuel to critical infrastructure of economy and the introduction of a new mechanism to regularize gas sales, enabling private sector participation.
At international level, I was promoted to the planning committee of the International Energy Summit, and have been leading a delegation representing Pakistan's energy sector. I was honored with UK Alumni Scholarship Award and was selected for the Future Leaders Programme for my lifelong contribution to the Energy sector. The University of Aberdeen also acknowledged my work by including me as one of the prominent Energy Leaders in their success stories.

In terms of knowledge sharing, I regularly contribute to both international and local newspapers as an Advisor Commentator on the Energy Outlook of Pakistan, with the aim of informing and inspiring others in the field. My career, rooted in my UK education, illustrates the transformative power of education and dedication in shaping the energy sector.

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
My global network, cultivated during my education at Aberdeen, has been the linchpin in transforming my career in the Energy Industry. It provided me with three pivotal advantages. First, it furnished me with essential technical knowledge, strengthening my foundation and credibility. Second, it honed my communication skills, making me a more persuasive and influential professional. Lastly, it offered extensive networking opportunities, connecting me with industry leaders, policymakers, and experts, enabling knowledge exchange and partnerships. This experience has empowered me to excel in a dynamic industry, and I am committed to leveraging these resources for positive change and progress in the field.

One Top Tip

Set clear, specific goals and commit to continuous learning every day. Foster meaningful connections with the people you engage with, both personally and professionally. With this approach, your potential is limitless!