From Aberdeen to Oil & Gas Leader - Babak AlnasserBabak Alnasser

MBA Energy Management, 2016
From Aberdeen to Oil & Gas Leader

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
Having attended Aberdeen to do my undergraduate degree - an MEng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering) - I had a great deal of respect for the University of Aberdeen as an academic institution. Given that the University is on of the oldest universities in the UK it holds a high stature as an academic institution, and as an Aberdeen native it was a natural choice for me.

Why did you choose your particular course?
I chose the MBA in Energy Management in 2014 to boost my eligibility to undertake managerial roles in the Energy sector, which is prominent in Aberdeen. At the point at which I applied for the MBA course, I had successfully honed my skills as a technical engineer/consultant across a multitude of areas and wanted to support businesses that I was working for by effectively managing teams and developing their businesses. I have always had aspirations to move into managerial/leadership roles and I felt the MBA was the perfect stepping stone to prepare myself for roles of that type.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
Travelling to Singapore to conduct my 4th year individual project was a highlight. In terms of my postgraduate experience, I loved every minute of returning to the University over eleven years on from graduating with my undergraduate degree. I found that with several years of work experience under my belt, I was able to actively engage in interesting discussions with other students doing the MBA course and it was very interesting to hear about the experiences of other students in the workplace and the differences in management roles between sectors.

If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I played for the University of Aberdeen tennis team from 1998-2001. We played student league matches and competitions against other universities all over Scotland, a highlight being at The Gannochy (University of Stirling) where we played a host of competitive matches. The camaraderie with other members of the team was great, with many memorable experiences of travelling to and from our matches at other universities.

Did you hold any student leadership roles, e.g. Class Rep, Club Treasurer, Social Convenor?
I was Class Rep during my undergraduate degree in first year, which was quite a responsibility to take on given that I was just 16 when I started university. This role involved collating feedback from students on the Engineering courses that we were all doing and relaying this information back at meetings to help drive improvement and ensure that students were getting the necessary support that they required.

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?
Ensure that you try to think about the practicalities of what you are learning in your academic courses. One of the regrets I have from my undergraduate degree is purely focusing on the bookwork side of things as opposed to thinking about how it actually applies to the real world. If you have an opportunity to do so, look to get an internship during the summer break and attend talks/seminars about your subjects. It will greatly enhance your employability if you truly understand how the theory you learn about in your lectures is actually applied in real life situations. When I did my postgraduate MBA, I was a lot more active with respect to relating the theory to real life scenarios and this has stood me in good stead to achieve my career goals and aspirations.

If while at Aberdeen you took part in a foreign exchange, e.g. Erasmus or Study Abroad, where did you go and what did you do?
During my undergraduate degree, in my 4th year, I conducted my Individual Project at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore. The project involved working in the Electronic and Computer Engineering (ECE) centre at Ngee Ann Poly where I designed and built a Digital Down Converter (DDC) for a DAB radio system using a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). This involved development of programming code to undertake the DDC function using the VHDL programming language. A very interesting technical project conducted in wonderful surroundings in Singapore, made possible by the University of Aberdeen.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Graduate Electrical Engineer at AMEC (now Worley)/

What did your first role involve?
I was responsible for conducting electrical engineering studies and calculations on brownfield engineering projects. Through AMEC I worked on projects for BP, Shell, BG, Apache and Maersk.

What is your current job title?
Managing Director at Safetec UK Limited.

What is your current role?
I am responsible for the UK arm of Safetec Nordic AS's business. This means I am responsible for business development, marketing, technical study development etc.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
I started my career as an Electrical Engineer at AMEC working on numerous brownfield engineering projects (major projects and minor modifications projects). I also worked offshore through AMEC for over a year on two significant project implementation campaigns on BG's Armada asset in the North Sea.

In 2008, I was singled out as a high potential graduate and embarked on a fast track development programme called the 'Advance Programme' which involved increased exposure to senior management/leadership at AMEC. I also worked with personnel from AMEC's international offices in Baku, Houston and Beijing. Through experiences gained on this programme, I was taken on by the Technical Safety Department in 2009 where I started to develop my skills in Process Safety and Risk Management.

In 2011 I left AMEC to seek consultancy opportunities and got a job for Xodus Group working as part of the Technical Safety team on a sizeable greenfield (new development) project for Apache North Sea. At Xodus, I gained a lot of experience on various technical safety project scopes as well as working in Operations Support roles for Dana Petroleum and TAQA Bratani before being given an excellent opportunity to become the Technical Safety and Risk Division Manager. In this role, I inherited a failing department and turned it around through strategic recruitment, business development, marketing as well as project managing a host of interesting technical scopes of work for Xodus's clients.

In 2019 I was approached by Safetec who was looking for a Managing Director to lead the UK arm of its business. After a series of interviews, I was provided an offer and decided to resign from Xodus to pursue the MD position at Safetec. After a year in the job, I have taken steps to increase Safetec's market share in the UK and have landed a host of new clients in addition to strategic recruitment to develop Safetec's presence. Further steps to grow are in place for 2021 as we look to build on the successes of 2020!

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
Yes, the MBA in particular gave me a lot in terms of the commercial awareness side, mentoring and people development and supply chain management. I have most definitely utilised the knowledge conveyed through the MBA.

One Top Tip

My top tip is to maintain an awareness of the industry that your professional career will likely be in. Ensure that you read publications on your subject matter and think about how you could add value to your field and how your academic studies are actually applied in real life. Good luck!