Nick Hwang got a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, but after seven years in the working world he's now also studying for an MBA.
What does your role in Business Development at Sofregaz involve day-to-day?
Right now I’m on the Project Cost Estimation team. We basically work out the price of the project we’re going to build. Sofregaz is an engineering company which works in oil and gas – specifically liquefied natural gas. We normally have to dig for projects, and these are huge projects. We work out the most realistic price that Sofregaz can complete the project. My role is to use databases and the knowledge in the company to estimate how much all the equipment, the installations, the construction will cost.
What skills and personality do you need to do well in your role?
There is a lot of coordination involved. You deal with lots of departments. If you’re a person who just likes to be in his corner, you’ll have a hard time.
And you're also currently doing an MBA at HEC Paris – will this help in your job?
Actually, the MBA is something I’m doing for myself. It’s not through the company. Working out estimation prices is a technical job - so my engineering knowledge comes into play here. But when I finish the MBA, I’ll see what my options are, and perhaps I’ll do other things.
I originally thought about majoring in architecture, but in the end I did Mechanical Engineering. This really worked for me, because as a degree it opens so many doors. It’s definitely the broadest field of engineering: automobiles, oil and gas, there are so many options.
They came to campus and spoke to students. I went on to work at their Los Angeles office. A lot of the staff there were alumni of my university. There was also a career day, and after that I got interviewed – and eventually hired.
You're fluent in four languages. How advantageous has this been in your career?
There are a lots of Korean companies in oil and gas, so having that language has really helped. And European languages are always a bonus. After all, I live in Paris!
Any tips for an engineer who wants a career in oil and gas?
Before I got in to oil and gas, I didn’t realise what a cyclical industry it was. There are downturns, then upturns. You have to realise you’re taking on a bit more risk than other traditional engineering careers, but the pay is good, so that compensates for never really knowing what’s going to happen in the industry.
Finally, what’s the weather like in Paris?
It’s colder today, actually. But we did have some sun recently, let’s hope for more!