Interview 2: Sagnik Mukherjee

Sagnik Mukherjee (MIET AMEI MEng Hons, The University of Sheffield), INSEAD

Prior to starting his MBA at INSEAD, Sagnik enjoyed a successful career as an engineering and management professional in the UK’s Energy – Oil, Gas, Chemicals sector.  Most recently, as Assurance Engineer at INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth, Scotland’s largest petrochemical site, Sagnik led innovative digital-transformation strategies to enhance risk assurance, audit performance, asset care, and compliance for flammable atmospheres and electrical equipment. Before INEOS, Sagnik spent 4 diverse years with BP across upstream and midstream segments in capital projects, operations, and reliability at iconic sites of strategic importance to the UK’s energy value chain. Sagnik is passionate about social impact and has individually raised over £16,000 for RedR UK, an international disaster relief charity through several fundraising challenges. He was the Global Site Champion for RedR at BP – a partnership that raised over £100,000 for RedR. Sagnik is a diving enthusiast, working towards becoming an instructor, and hopes to set up his own underwater bio-conservation initiative.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
I first started contemplating about management education around the 3rd going onto 4th year of my professional work life – around 2015/16. My career was taking an interesting transition during this time – I was fast-tracked to complete BP’s international graduate development programme and secured my first promotion as a multi-disciplinary planning engineer managing multiple work-streams and large teams. I felt formal management training would make me a better leader in that role. Interestingly, soon after, I viewed the 2016 upstream downturn as an opportunity to diversify my career in downstream chemicals; thus, I left BP to join INEOS. This opened my eyes to the complexity, competitiveness, and macro-economic inter-connectedness of the business side of the energy industry. All this with the industry’s tectonic shift towards sustainability, circular economy, and innovative business models made me realise that my professional development would benefit immensely from a hands-on, experiential, and combined business and management education programme. Thus, around 2017 I made the conscious decision to pursue my MBA.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
The energy industry today faces demand growth, decarbonisation, and digitisation. The INSEAD MBA and its focus on organisational behaviour and strategic leadership, will equip me to effectively lead people and organisations and tackle some, or all, of these challenges. Specifically, INSEAD is most exciting because of its tremendously lauded faculty, inventive, highly international and experiential approach to learning, and incomparably global alumni, who want to change the world. Learning about disruptive business models in sustainability, urban living, and green transportation from distinguished management thinkers is exactly what makes INSEAD ideal for me. Analysing each topic through the lens of diverse study groups and energetic classroom discourse will be equally fulfilling and push me out of my comfort zone. Taking a leadership role in the INSEAD Energy Club will allow me to further sharpen my business acumen, provide access to other corporates and start-ups, and broaden my view of opportunities in the global energy market. INSEAD, and its formative eco-system, will transform me into an inspiring, highly global, and ethical leader able to make a tangible difference towards achieving a sustainable energy future.

How will you use your MBA to further your career?
My ultimate career goal is to manage energy and climate-change venture decisions at a UK-based energy-major. Post-INSEAD I intend to return to the energy industry as an associate with an energy-major with diverse interests or energy practices of consulting firms; wherein I would like to focus on developing strategy and business for high-growth, low-carbon ventures. I will focus on sustainable growth in renewable energy streams and value-chains, while supplementing my strong operations foundation in oil, gas, and chemicals. Growth trajectory in such a role will expedite my journey to corporate leadership at energy-majors. Leveraging this experience as a holistic, cross-functional energy practitioner, in the long term, I would transition towards investment management at an energy major’s venture decision-making arm; thus, helping achieve a balance between energy security and sustainability.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
Take some of the highly skilled, competent, and accomplished engineering and business professionals in the UK and put them in a virtual room – what you get is a staggering professional network with expertise as deep as it is wide – ie the SMF network. Being part of such an esteemed network will enhance and accelerate my intended career transition through its unrivalled network of highly successful fellows who are making a tangible difference to the UK’s business and the global economy. SMF will be a tremendous platform to champion positive values and inclusive community development through sharing ideas, opportunities, and mentoring. I would like to foster collaboration from within SMF’s network to promote innovative, sustainable, and impactful energy initiatives across both public and private sectors within the UK and further afield.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?
I love mentoring, supporting, and helping others – I feel it is a crucial practice for self-improvement while offering the satisfaction of paying it forward. I thoroughly enjoy mentoring engineering students at the University of Sheffield as well as young STEM aspirants in my high school – whether it is through helping the career services with live case studies for graduate interviews, offering 1-1 career advice, or delivering short talks on possible STEM careers, or anything else that might be of benefit. Additionally, in both my prior organisations, I was a STEM ambassador for local schools and technical colleges, and a fundraiser for a UK-based international disaster relief charity. I am committed to taking these activities further and become a champion for the SMF and EIBF. And of course, I aspire to support the SMF financially – hopefully, in the near future.

What difference has the scholarship made to you?
The scholarship is a great recognition of my professional achievements in the UK’s energy industry; thereby, strengthening my resolve to succeed at INSEAD and to realise my ultimate career goal. It will serve as a strong source of inspiration for me to remain resolute in my intentions of achieving the necessary balance between energy security and sustainability. The SMF scholarship has alleviated my financial burden and fears significantly, allowing me to fully focus on maximising my transformative journey at INSEAD and giving me the autonomy to target impact-driven roles in the UK’s energy sector.

How did you learn about the SMF scholarship?  This is actually an interesting and somewhat fortuitous story in hindsight. After I found out the unbelievable news that I had been admitted to INSEAD, LBS, IESE, and HEC Paris, I was trying to solve this great conundrum by meeting and speaking with various alumni from each school. I decided to attend the Christmas Drinks at Edinburgh organised by INSEAD’s Scottish Alumni Group. During my pleasant conversation with alumni from Class of 1995-1999, a gentleman appeared to know INSEAD’s modern curriculum and campuses intimately. Unable to contain my curiosity, I enquired whether he was still directly associated with the school. He replied with a chuckle that he was the Associate Dean of Degree Programmes at INSEAD! Though I was a little mortified, I started asking him many questions about the school, lifestyle, and finances. It was he who advised me about SMF and encouraged me to apply as he felt I had a compelling story for what SMF looks for. And eight months later…et voilà!

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