Zubair Khan

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The Maverick Shaping Offshore Drilling's Horizon

Zubair Khan

Country Manager,

Vantage Drilling

I n the heart of the tumultuous seas and beneath the surface of the world’s energy demand lies a mastermind whose journey echoes the ebb and flow of the very tides he conquers. Zubair Khan, a trailblazer with over two decades of offshore drilling prowess, emerges as a formidable force driving innovation, safety, and success in the oil and gas industry. Zubair’s journey commenced in 2004 as a Graduate Trainee Engineer, but little did he know that this was the beginning of an extraordinary voyage in his chosen domain.
Today, Zubair commands the helm as the Country Manager at Vantage Drilling. His tenure has been punctuated by achievements that reverberate across continents. As Rig Manager in Lebanon and Cyprus, and then back to Mumbai, Zubair defied geographical bounds to orchestrate the drilling ecosystem. But it was at Congo that Zubair became Assistant Rig Manager, a role that saw him cultivate a thriving ecosystem of safety, innovation, and camaraderie.
Further, from Gabon’s shores to the Gulf of Mexico’s horizon, his prowess as an Operations Engineer sculpted the landscape of safety standards and operational excellence. At Vantage Drilling, he started as Operations Engineer and is now the Country Manager for Indian Operations. A master listener, and a dynamic decision-maker, Zubair’s leadership is a rare blend of wisdom, humility, and boldness.
As he guides Vantage Drilling towards uncharted frontiers, TradeFlock interviews him to learn how. 

Can you tell us about your professional journey and background?

I embarked on my professional journey as a chemical engineer, graduating in 2003. Right after my graduation, I eagerly entered the industry, landing my first job in 2004. This marked the beginning of my involvement in the dynamic world of oil and gas. I have since traversed both onshore and offshore realms, gaining comprehensive experience in various facets of the industry. This journey has instilled in me a deep understanding of the complexities and challenges inherent in this field.

What leadership qualities have you developed in your career?

My leadership style has significantly evolved over the last two decades of my career. Flexibility has been a cornerstone, as I have learned to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the industry. The ability to listen keenly and learn from my team members has been instrumental in shaping my leadership approach. This adaptive style allows me to tackle challenges head-on and make informed decisions that benefit both the team and the organisation.

In your role as a Country Manager, what are your day-today challenges, and how do you address them?

My responsibilities encompass a spectrum of challenges that underscore the complexity of the oil and gas industry. Ensuring safety takes precedence, as the industry’s risk factor is undeniable. My team and I are unwavering in our commitment to achieving a 99.9% safety record. Additionally, maintaining performance excellence amidst market fluctuations presents a constant challenge. I must delicately balance the demand for operational efficiency with the need to ensure the well-being of our team members.

How do you foster innovation and motivation within your team?

Fostering innovation within the team is a multifaceted endeavour. We recognise and reward exceptional performance through awards, which not only motivate but also encourage the cultivation of innovative solutions. My leadership style is rooted in leading by example, and I strive to impart my passion for the industry to my team members. By creating an environment where everyone’s contributions are valued, I encourage them to share ideas, embrace creativity, and contribute to the company’s overall growth.

What are the most significant learnings from your two decades of experience?

The pinnacle lesson from my journey is the paramount importance of safety in the oil and gas industry. This industry leaves no room for shortcuts or compromises. I have imbibed the significance of mentorship and the invaluable insights passed on by seasoned professionals. A stable mindset is indispensable, as is focusing on career orientation rather than being driven solely by financial gains. Every challenge has been a stepping stone to growth, and the ability to adapt has been key to my success.

How do you incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into your company's operations?

Sustainability and social responsibility are deeply ingrained in our company’s ethos. We prioritise eco-friendly practises, working diligently to reduce carbon emissions across our operations. An example is our shift to LED lights and environmentally friendly fluids for subsea equipment. We are committed to preserving marine life, employing cutting-edge technology such as remotely operated vehicles to minimise our environmental impact.

How do you plan to expand your company globally, and what challenges do you anticipate?

Our global expansion strategy involves a meticulous approach to market dynamics and demand. We aspire to establish Vantage Drilling as a dominant player in the Indian offshore drilling market, pre-dominantly in the Deepwater Operations. This ambition rests on our unwavering commitment to safety and performance excellence. However, competition is an inevitable challenge, which we intend to overcome through our strong reputation, expertise, and strategic positioning in the industry.

What advice or message would you share with budding engineers?

To aspiring engineers, I emphasise the importance of career orientation over a money-centric approach. Let your passion and dedication drive your journey. A stable mindset is your compass through challenges, and safety must remain a core principle. Be inspired to aspire, and success will follow. Remember, each obstacle is an opportunity for growth, and your journey in the industry will be defined by your commitment to learning and adapting.
















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