General Manager

Taking care of business while taking care of people

Six months into her role as General Manager of our Chennai engineering hub, Rachana Ranjit’s schedule looks very different from what it looked like back in 2009 when she first joined Petrofac as an Electrical Engineer. It proved challenging to get a slot in her calendar, riddled with management meetings, planning and review sessions, and other crucial responsibilities that help our Chennai office run smoothly. Persistence pays off though, and Rachana is known for making time for others. We sat down with her to learn more about her career at Petrofac.

Rachana, take us back to 2009 and your first introduction to Petrofac.

The call from Petrofac came ‘out of the blue’. I have been working in the industry in Muscat, Oman, and have then returned to India in 2009 to start a new role in Chennai. Petrofac has just started establishing its footprint in Chennai in 2007 and I didn’t know much about the company. But they were growing the office at a fast pace, and when the call came in, I thought: ‘why not?’.

A few years later, I had decided to take a career break and I had put my career on hold. But when I rejoined Petrofac in 2018, I was fully focused and our leaders recognised that and provided me with an opportunity to grow and attend a leadership programme. Now, 14 years after I first joined, I am the General Manager of the Chennai office.

Rachana started her career at Petrofac in Chennai in 2009 as an Electrical Engineer

Can you tell us more about the Chennai office and its contribution to Petrofac, as well as how you contribute on a day-to-day?

Our office is providing support for Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) projects in oil and gas, and increasingly in new energies. I hold a management role overlooking a multidisciplinary team of engineers and the ultimate accountability and responsibility for the work we do here rests with me. This includes governance, finance, legal aspects, and many other things, but probably the most differentiating aspect is that I am responsible for more than 500 people working here. Ensuring they are happy with their job and profession, talking to their managers about their progress, making sure they are working in the right roles.

And what is the most exciting part of your job? 

Finding solutions to problems. Be it technical, or even more rewarding – solving problems that enable people to do a better job and providing them with a way forward. 

Welcoming Tareq Kawash, Group Chief Executive to the Chennai office

Spoken like a true engineer. Can you pinpoint to a key highlight during your time at Petrofac, in addition to becoming the General Manager of the Chennai office?

One moment that has shown me how resilient we are was in early 2020 when COVID-19 first struck. Up until then we could hardly imagine working from home. We knew the virus was spreading and it was not safe for people to travel into the office. We have decided to make the ‘shift’. In only two days – Thursday and Friday – we transferred more than 90% of devices to people’s homes. And these were mostly desktop computers, not laptops. Everyone was working in-sync – management, IT, administration…it was such a well-oiled machine. And the following week, the Government announced the nation-wide lockdown. It was such an amazing feat that we all achieved. 

What do you think differentiates Petrofac? 

We rise to challenges, and we are a company that continuously evolves and grows. We are entering new geographies we haven’t before, new areas where we haven’t been working before. We take challenges head on in an almost adventurous way. It makes our jobs very fulfilling. 

With Haresh Sharma, Petrofac's Group Head of Engineering

It is a tough competition for engineering talent in Chennai. Why do you think people would like to join us, and not other engineering companies? 

A timely question given that we have just welcomed 30 engineering graduates to our office. The truth is people get tremendous opportunities at Petrofac. They are not closeted into doing one thing on repeat. At Petrofac, you have the freedom to do different roles, to move around teams, enhancing yourself as a professional. You are becoming the whole package.