SPE eMentoring Stories
Dinesh Shivananthan, Petroleum Production Engineer, Dana Petroleum Netherlands, Mentor
I joined the eMentoring program to share my experiences with fellow young professionals. I wanted to guide them on the kind of attitude required to work outside of their comfort zones and to get work done safely and efficiently. Since we're from the same generation, we will all have faced similar issues and problems and can learn from each other along the way.
After building an initial rapport, my mentees and I agreed to communicate via email once a week. I believe that good mentoring requires two-way communication. It’s very easy to succumb to a "one-directional-question from the mentee and answer-by-the-mentor" mode, but it is incumbent upon the mentor to get to know their mentee’s background and goals. This will lay the foundation for providing the right advice and guidance.
One of my mentees was undecided if he should immediately enroll for a master’s degree upon completing his bachelor’s, or gain some work experience first. I shared with them my own experience and motivations for pursuing a master’s degree only after several years of working in the oil industry. The work experience enabled me to determine my area of interest, and thus, the subject matter on which I wanted to focus my thesis research on.
I also provided specific examples related to production engineering—where theoretical knowledge has to be supplemented by continuous on-the-job learning and training— in order to increase marketability and expedite career progression. This helped my mentee determine his future plans upon completing his bachelor’s degree.
Another one of my mentees was looking to apply for jobs overseas due to geopolitical conflicts in her home country. She was apprehensive about starting anew in another country where she had no contacts and had to establish her network of professional contacts from scratch. I shared my own experiences of starting fresh in a new country, the Netherlands.
My advice to other potential mentors is to always tailor your mentoring to meet your mentee’s goals. For many mentees—especially students—you, as a mentor, may be their main portal into the world of professional petroleum engineers. Be prepared to share your experiences, achievements, and hardships with them. And lastly, always provide specific examples—nobody likes vague advice!
I managed to share my own experiences and inspire some young future petroleum engineers. I was also able to view things from their points of view, and that will help me become a better manager in the future.
Dinesh Shivananthan is a petroleum production engineer with Dana Petroleum in the Netherlands. He has a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Shivananthan obtained his MSc in petroleum production engineering from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. Prior to joining Dana Petroleum, he worked with PETRONAS as a production technologist.