Commissioning Engineer

A decade of learning

Sanjay Venkatesh is one of Petrofac’s stand-out engineers, whose career journey is an example of success achieved through perseverance and patience. He most recently worked on our project team delivering the final stages of Sharjah National Oil Corporation’s (SNOC) new gas storage project in the UAE. Initially assisting with instrumentation and control, Sanjay went on to lead the final testing on the project.

As gas was introduced for the first time on 1 January 2021, marking a new era for our client, Sanjay and his team enjoyed the successful culmination of a year’s worth of hard work. The project was completed on time and within budget, within a year of being awarded to the Company. Many challenges that we experienced in 2020, including a global pandemic, didn’t prevent Sanjay and our team to deliver a safe project, with a strong focus on operational and environmental excellence.

Ten years and counting

It was nearly a decade ago that a younger Sanjay first set foot in our Sharjah offices, ready to embark on a new adventure. He joined our Graduate Development Programme, fresh out of SASTRA University in Tamil Nadu, India, where he earned a Bachelor of Technology in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering, and a Masters of Business Administration in Project Management and Operations.

Given his background, Sanjay was assigned to our Controls and Instrumentation Department. He started work on his first project, Kuwait Cleans Fuels, where he was responsible for design, engineering, and testing of systems. His hard work didn’t go unnoticed and he was recognised in our internal EVE Awards, as ‘Highly Commended’ in the 'Driven to Deliver' Category.

This experience proved to be a steppingstone and several further opportunities on other key projects across the region followed. These included the Jazan Refinery in Saudi Arabia, ZADCO Offshore Abu Dhabi, Lower Fars in Kuwait, and Salalah LPG in Oman. Following his successful stint in the Controls and Instrumentation department, he relocated to Shanghai, China where he spent a short time performing ‘factory acceptance tests’.

Highlighting one of the early experiences that had the greatest impact on him, Sanjay says:

“During my early years, working on site, offshore Abu Dhabi as a Field Engineer, putting theoretical knowledge to practice was such an eye-opener as to how things operate in the real world. I got to learn how to coordinate with multiple team members, subcontractors, the client and others involved in the project.”

Fast forward to 2020 and the once graduate is using a decade of project experience in a leading role at the SNOC project. As a Commissioning Lead in the Electrical, Instrumentation, and Telecom department, he was involved with operator training, handing over package materials, and performing tests on systems and equipment.

“Leading a team is definitely challenging, but not something I shy away from. From a young age, I learned that being a leader is not only about guiding others and delivering what is required, but also it is about problem solving and identifying gaps that need to be addressed. I found that communicating effectively helps making progress within a project,” Sanjay says.

Summarising his Petrofac career to date, Sanjay has clear advice for early career professionals:

"The biggest lesson I have learned is to never back down when things get tough. For the current graduates and anyone else starting out in the industry, my advice would be keep believing in yourself, there will always be an opportunity for you to grow. All you have to do is be patient, focus on the right behaviours, and never forget that being transparent and honest is more rewarding than taking any shortcuts."