Interview 5: Mahmoud Gawish

Mahmoud Gawish (MEng (Hons) University of Manchester, CEng MIChemE MIEAust MEI FS Eng (TÜV Rheinland) Professional Process Safety Engineer CCPSC), INSEAD

2020 SMF Scholarship Winner

Mahmoud worked as a Process Safety Engineer on major capital oil and gas projects for over eight years prior to commencing his MBA at INSEAD.  His most recent role was as an industry consultant providing technical safety engineering services to clients in the UK, France, India and the Netherlands. 

Mahmoud started his career in Hong Kong supporting the engineering, procurement and construction companies within the APAC region in delivering key energy infrastructure globally.  His focus then shifted to supporting UK North Sea contractors and operators in manging major incident risks.  He worked for over three years at Eni UK, providing daily technical support to onshore and offshore assets, including Liverpool Bay and Hewett.  As part of this role, he delivered specialist technical safety assessment, advice and guidance on activities and issues affecting the integrity of ageing upstream assets.  Mahmoud has also held several volunteering roles within the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Why did you decide to do an MBA?
I decided to embark on my MBA journey because my career as well as the oil and gas industry – more broadly – were at a crossroads.  The industry faces significant challenges going forward, which will be exacerbated by Covid-19.  I believe that the pandemic will accelerate the energy transition and my personal view is that peak oil may have been reached in 2019, so I felt that my career was in need of a shift that mirrored that of the energy industry.

Furthermore, my career had become highly specialised within a niche area, limiting opportunities in other functions and industries.  Moreover, I firmly believe that every energy professional has a duty to influence the choices the world makes with respect to the energy mix by making the employment and entrepreneurial decisions that will navigate us towards net zero emissions.  An MBA is the cornerstone of this transformational experience I am looking to attain.

What stage in your career were you at when you decided to do the MBA?
I got to a point in my career where I realised that I lacked the knowledge and understanding of key fundamental concepts in finance, marketing, accounting and economics.  I had become a process safety functional expert – with limited knowledge beyond the technical process safety arena – and I knew that an MBA at a top business school would help me diversify my skillset.  It will indeed equip me with world-class general business management education that will help me visualise the bigger picture. I also felt that joining INSEAD would be an excellent opportunity to hone my leadership and entrepreneurial skills as well as develop a high-calibre network, which will support my career acceleration and long-term entrepreneurial aspirations.

How will you use what you learned on your MBA course to further your career?
I am aiming for a double shift from a technical to a commercial focus, and from an oil & gas into the renewable energy sector, with a particular interest in the role of hydrogen in the UK energy transition.  My process safety background and expertise combined with an INSEAD MBA will provide me with a bird’s eye view of the technical as well as commercial risks and opportunities within the renewable sector.

My primary goal is to be the forefront of the ensuing UK energy transition, and to play a key part in it through realising my long-term entrepreneurial aspirations, exploring the role of hydrogen in the UK energy mix.  INSEAD’s powerful alumni network will support the realisation of my long-term entrepreneurial vision.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
The SMF is a force for good and I am hoping to leverage its extensive network to advocate for causes that I deeply care about and are important to humanity. I am hoping to promote diversity in engineering, which is a major obstacle to innovation, as well as influencing policymakers to bring forward the UK’s net zero target and formulate regulatory frameworks to underpin a more sustainable future.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?
I believe that mentorship played a key part in my development and I hope to be in a position to play a part in the development of younger engineers through the SMF.  I would also like to be involved in the duties of running the fellowship as well as support its initiatives.

How did you find out about the SMF scholarship?
The SMF award was promoted through INSEAD’s MBA financial webpage, which was linked directly to the SMF website.  There, I researched the eligibility criteria and proceeded with the preparation of my application.

How was your experience of applying for the scholarship? 
My experience of applying for the SMF scholarship has been seamless. The eligibility criteria as well as the application process are clearly defined, and I found the virtual Q&A session organised prior to the application deadline to be a helpful forum to ask any further queries that were not covered on the SMF website.

What did you learn by going through the scholarship application process?
Going through the SMF process was extremely enjoyable. The process helped me with self-reflection on my previous experiences, achievements and areas of improvement. The presentation I delivered helped me significantly in the articulation and definition of my short-term career goals and long-term aspirations, which may be slightly blurred when aiming for a career shift post-MBA.  Thanks to the SMF, I was able to refine and granulate my vision for the future.  I found the interview questions to be challenging yet extremely stimulating, and were designed to make you think outside the box.

Find out how to apply for a scholarship.


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