Industry Speak

Senior Manager
Indian Oil Corporation Limited

A Mechanical Engineer with substantial experience in technical sales and services; a member of the IOC central management team that is involved in formulating policies and monitoring performance

Industry in Focus


The Petroleum industry touches the lives of each person everyday in one way or, the other. Be it in the form of slippers being worn early in the morning, to bread wrappers having wax coating on them, to PET containers for storage of kitchen items, to commuting to work using whatever form of transport, to anything. A person comes in contact with the products that are derivatives of this industry. Some of the products are directly obtained and used as petroleum products while others get classified as petrochemical products and their derivatives.

Broadly, we can categorize this industry into two - upstream and downstream. The upstream sector is involved in drilling wells for obtaining natural gas and crude oil. The production is closely followed by storage and transportation that are equally important and have to be carried out on a regular basis to keep the production continuous. There are many companies involved in these activities like ONGC, OIL, Cairn Energy, RIL, Shell, ExxonMobil, etc.

In the downstream segment, the main activities are refining of crude oil to produce various products and to take them to the end users. To elaborate a bit more, it encompasses refining, storage (both, at the refinery and marketing locations), transportation (pipelines or, road) and distribution.


Production, Sales, Marketing, Strategy, Planning, Business Development

Career Path

This industry provides placement opportunities for MBAs, CAs and Engineers from various disciplines. Almost all disciplines of Engineering find a place in this sector though Chemical and Mechanical Engineering are pre-dominant.

A fresher joins as a Probationary Officer and climbs up the ladder of hierarchy to become the Chairman. Typically, there are three steps each in junior management, middle management and senior management levels, before joining the Board.

Typically, the vacancies are at entry level only and the grades are defined by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) in case of public sector companies. A person can rise to the highest level based on performance. In the private sector, middle level entries are also possible.

Job Description

This is a very diverse field and requires a person to perform hardcore Production activities to the glamorous Sales and Marketing. In the upstream industry, the job description includes drilling to production to transportation through pipelines. In the downstream sector, the job description includes refining, maintenance, pipeline transportation or, transportation by road/ rail/ ships & barges etc., terminalling & storage, supplies & distribution, sales, marketing, business development, customer service, etc. There are many different categories of jobs available in this sector.

  • Production - In the upstream sector, the job involves hard core drilling operations whether on-shore or, off-shore. The job requires physical labour and suits people who can undertake rigours. In the downstream sector, this job is performed by Chemical Engineers, who manage and control refinery operations to ensure continuous production.

  • Maintenance - This function is performed by Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineers. The basic requirement is to ensure that the various equipments are in a working condition at all times. This involves rig maintenance, pipeline maintenance or, refinery maintenance. Carrying out annual maintenance activities like overhauls and pipeline pigging are some of the major activities.

  • Construction and Projects - A domain of Civil and Mechanical engineers. Building new facilities, erection and commissioning are the core activities.

  • Marketing - A field that is the most challenging and glamorous at the same time. The products available for Marketing are many and that too to both the channels, retail (B2C) and institutional (B2B). Some of the products are price controlled while others are free trade products. Logistics plays an important part in this function. MBAs and all types of Engineers can find a place in this function. Certain products also require close liaison with government authorities.

  • Technical Sales and Services - A field that is purely technical and provides opportunities for both, Chemical and Mechanical Engineers. In the refineries, the technical services decide on the product mix based on crude yield characteristics. In Marketing, technical services and sales deal with lubricant sales and after-sales services for both, lubricants and fuels. Customer education is another aspect of this function.

  • Supply Chain Management - An important function to ensure continuity of operations in both, the upstream and downstream segments. Pipelines are one of the major constituents of SCM. Balancing of products in tanks at both the segments and ensuring zero dry outs is an important aspect of this function. It also requires close liaison with Railways and Shipping companies for movement of crude oil and finished products. This function requires services from Mechanical, Metallurgical, Civil, Chemical, Instrumentation and Computer Science Engineers.

  • Communications and Information Systems - Since the information flow is large and in real-time, there is an immense importance attached to this function. It is a support function that ensures smooth functioning of all functions. It offers a good opportunity for Network Support Engineers. However, opportunities for Software Development Engineers are limited.

  • Finance - A support function with all types of financial activities like accounting, excise & taxation, management accounts, corporate finance, international banking, etc. It is a great opportunity for Chartered and Cost Accountants.

  • Branding - All companies in the petroleum trade deal with various brands. Brand Management and Advertising are major support activities for Marketing. MBAs and Engineers easily fit into this role.

Essential Qualifications

Engineering in Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Metallurgy, Civil disciplines and MBA

Good Institutes To Study At

IITs/ NITs or, premier B-schools

Other Qualifications

The job requires a person to be outgoing, sincere and hard working. Because of the challenges posed by the environment, the person is required to be both, physically and mentally tough. In Marketing, the job requires the person to be on the move most of the time and be away from the family and its comforts.

Average Salary Range

Starts typically at an annual CTC of Rs. 10 lakhs. In the private sector, the salary can reach very high levels but, in the public sector domain it is controlled by the government policies and DPE norms.

The gap in remuneration between the two sectors is substantial. However, the exposure opportunities available in the public sector are immense due the sheer size and reach of the companies. Moreover, it also provides opportunities to reach the nook and corners of the country.

Additional Comments

In this sector, the challenges are many and dynamic in nature. Also, the variables are non-controllable.

This career provides immense opportunities to develop as a person and see places. It challenges you to the core and exhorts one to perform.

These are the companies that support the country in testing times. The importance of this sector cannot be undermined in the society. In fact, it is one of the main drivers of the economy. Definitely, a sector that is an envy of many.

If you are a performer and want to contribute to the nation, this is the industry to join.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by the author are personal

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