Qatar- GU-Q alumnus on how education helped deliver solutions for siege, pandemic

(MENAFN – The Peninsula) The Peninsula

Doha: If you drive about an hour and a half north of the towering skyline of Doha, you will find yourself in the quiet coastal city of Ras Laffan, home of the Pearl GTL plant, a joint development by Qatar Petroleum and Shell and the largest Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) energy plant in the world. 

It is also where Qatari national Ibrahim Al Derbasti, a graduate of QF partner Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), has forged a successful career, and found the opportunity to give back to his community and to his country, in times of national crisis and great adversity.

Ibrahim combined an international affairs education at GU-Q with business training through an MBA from Cambridge to become the Deputy General Manager for Contracts and Procurement at Shell in Ras Laffan, where he is in charge of all company Supply Chain (SC) activities of Pearl GTL Plant in Ras Laffan. He oversees seven distinct SC units.

When asked how a degree in international affairs could lead to a career in the energy sector, he said, ‘Studying the liberal arts at GU-Q gives you this well-rounded education that sets you up for whatever career or education you want to pursue.

‘At GU-Q, you realise most of our political drivers are hard wired on economics. In Qatar, the main driver is energy and natural gas. So I decided that I wanted to join the best gas company. At that time and still true today, that’s Shell.

While an undergrad, ‘I kept hearing over and over that I had to become a lifelong learner, which I just thought was something they tell all students because it sounded good. But it turns out they meant it.  

That realisation came when he entered the workforce and found himself a novice among coworkers with 30 years of experience.  As he rose through the ranks in Qatar Shell to his first team leadership role in contracts and procurement for logistics and corporate services, he experienced his first major professional crisis, testing his skills and knowledge and challenging him to develop innovative solutions. ‘We got hit by the blockade and had to remap and rechannel our entire supply chain because 90% was from inland. We were a peninsula, but we had to operate as an island.

As a result of the company’s team-based efforts, he said, ‘There was zero disruption to our operations. To have that outcome makes me really proud. 

The second happened with a different kind of crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. Using his expertise in procurement, he helped secure 20 metric tons of the chemicals needed to run disinfection operations on Qatar’s roads. 

‘When I graduated from Georgetown, I had this tremendous drive to do something, to contribute somehow, but I was not sure where or how. Now, I’ve gained this great education and I’m part of the oil and gas industry via this international company – it’s a responsibility to leverage that knowledge & experience, to make sure you translate that into tangible contributions to your country.

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