Alumnus named to Forty Under 40 list

Posted: November 7, 2022
Preshit Gawade, '12 PhD
Preshit Gawade at the 2013 Graduate Research Symposium held at Ohio State Chemical Engineering

Oil and Gas Investor magazine, published by Hart Energy, began its "Forty Under 40" recognition program a decade ago, but this is the first time that the Class of 2022 includes an Ohio State chemical engineering alumnus. The Forty Under 40 project showcases the extreme talent in the oil and gas industry and has so far honored and celebrated hundreds of incredible trailblazers in the energy sector. 

Preshit Gawade ('12 PhD, '11 MS chemical engineering, '19 MBA), executive director of new energies at Baker Hughes in Houston, was hand-picked out of hundreds of nominations across the industry to be included in the "40" project because of his initiative, intelligence, persistence and the influence he is having in changing the future and furthering the goals of his organization and the energy industry. 

Gawade, a self-proclaimed engineer at heart, is a former member of the Umit S. Ozkan Laboratory for Heterogeneous Catalysis and Electrocatalysis, and spent the first half of his career as a scientist before pivoting to the oil and gas industry. A published author with more than 400 citations, he credits his time spent in academia for his versatile approach to working in the energy industry, and strongly believes in “Thought Leadership” to take business and community forward.

In addition to his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from The Ohio State University, Gawade holds an MBA from The University of Texas-Austin. He is also a graduate of United Way's highly selective Project Blueprint–Leadership Program that helps to improve life in the Houston community.

In a taped interview with Hart Energy, Gawade shared his story and discussed how he is working to build a purpose-driven energy organization and deploying resources to accelerate an industry path to new energy and decarbonization.

Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?

“For me, energy resonates with prosperity that defines quality of life. Hence, after completing chemical engineering, the energy industry was a natural choice. I started my career in technology and failed numerous times before delivering a sound product. I tell people that I am an engineer at heart and in business by choice. In later years of my career, I pivoted to more business-oriented roles—corporate strategy, market intel, deals and investment, portfolio management and financial planning."

"Our industry is very dynamic and we are brought up to think that risk can be managed. But instead of just managing it, we need to start embracing it. We need to re-evaluate and take a data-driven approach to cancel out the noise from reality. We need to collaborate more, because I think it will not only drive the business, but also customer value and also investor value. During this journey I was able to interact with stakeholders from the scientific and investment communities as well as industrial partners, and that diversity helped me to connect the dots. That is really important when trying to transform a business, invest in growth, and position for tomorrow. Fostering more diversity not only helps the business, but it takes the community forward and works hand in hand to contribute to innovation, balance the portfolio, and help with risk management. I always tell my team 'Think like an entrepreneur from a strategy point of view, a portfolio point of view, so that you meet your short-term plans but are also aligned with your long-term strategy.'"

40 under 40

What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?

"I see a lot of activities being undertaken in the industry to adapt, prepare and pivot the business to more sustainable solutions and decarbonization. For me, having a front-row seat and being able to participate in this transition for the next 20 years is exciting.”

Describe a memorable professional experience.

“I started my professional journey in academia as a scientist and became a published author. Later, I pivoted to industry due to my interest in applied engineering. In the past several years, I have leveraged prior learnings to translate technology value to the customers and investors through strategic business planning and investment. This nonlinear journey gives me a 360-degree overview in the oil and gas sector and has helped me to transform core capabilities, invest in growth and position for tomorrow through business planning and investment.”

Who are your mentors?

“Whatever I have become, the good and the bad, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. People who mentored me over the years offered opportunities along the way and offered valuable advice. Some of the memorable advice I received: family first; reputation is everything; and listen to your mentors, but eventually do what is right for you. I do believe there is a strong link between achieving enterprise goals and one’s professional journey."

What transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?

“Oil and gas remains relevant and crucial in energy security and for building a resilient economy. The industry has been known to reinvent, understand and manage the market risk over the years. As this industry transforms, a lot of market forces will start competing, such as energy security, the cost of clean energy, the fluctuating price of commodities, and intensifying climate pressure policies. This complexity is likely to result in more uncertainty, demanding the industry recalibrate its risk tolerance, investment approach, and reevaluate the playbook and position ourselves into the frontier market so we can help the energy industry going forward."

What has helped you develop your leadership abilities during your career?

“I live by two leadership rules: be humble and be hungry. First, acknowledge that there are a lot of knowledgeable people inside and outside your industry, so be open to learn from them and pivot as you learn new things (or unlearn old ways). Second, be hungry to achieve success, to deliver the results and learn new things. Follow the facts and the conviction, and take decisive action—even if sometimes it is an unpopular decision.”

What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry?

“First, embrace the uncertainty, be resilient and enjoy the ride. Second, look to learn from others, repurpose the learning and expand your comfort zone. Third, know the industry rules [and] follow them...just know when to break them when necessary.”

Life beyond work

Gawade serves as a board member for Big Brother Big Sisters, which focuses on youth mentoring and building future leaders. He is also a member of the MBA advisory board at McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas-Austin. In the past, he served on the Society of Petroleum Engineering-Gulf Coast Section (SPE) and on the Growth & Innovation Leadership Council at Frost & Sullivan. Gawade has also worked with non-profits in children's education, the scientific community, and immigration services in various capacities in order to help build a stronger community.

Three Fun Facts:

1. He played several league cricket matches during his school/college days until his early 30s.

2. He likes to brew. Applying his chemical engineering knowledge, he has prepared a few customized operating procedures for brewing beer—for the betterment of humanity, of course.

3. He is a "nerd at heart" who has watched the “Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” series several times.


Category: Alumni
Tags: Ozkanaward