Interview with Napaporn Ratanapoka, VP Refinery, PTT Global Chemical

Industrial oil and gas well

Napaporn Ratanapoka, VP Refinery from PTT Global Chemical shares on her thoughts on gender diversity in oil and gas industry and other industry topics.

Please introduce your role at your PTT Global Chemical PCL

I am currently Vice President Refinery of PTT Global Chemical PCL.  My major roles are

  • Drive the refinery to meet business plans for maximum profit, while maintaining safety in operations, maximise efficiency and prevent any impact to environment and community.
  • Manage and control asset management to ensure high reliability and maximum utilisation of assets.
  • Control and manage staffing and competency development of the team.
  • Drive the organisation to meet all rules and regulations, company policy and applied industry standards.

What does your typical workday look like?

Most of my time is focused on communication of the right information and direction of the company, cascade actions to each division manager to ensure that we can achieve our KPIs, while ensuring all employees have a happy work-life balance.  I also work on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). 

I also focus on the 4 “core behaviours of GC” and deploy them across the team – (1) Take initiative to create better results, (2) Keep improving yourself and inspiring teamwork, (3) Work proactively to serve customers’ needs, and (4) Strive for the greater good.

How do you think the oil and gas industry compares to other industries when it comes to gender diversity?

I don’t see any difference in gender diversity in the oil and gas industry compared to others.  I think women are getting more opportunities to play a major role in all businesses.  I also notice that in current family culture, men also take care of the children, work at home, and don’t leave this role to women alone.

Women represent a growing segment of oil and gas workforce but what are the main challenges that come with being a woman in the traditionally male-dominated oil industry?

I don’t see any concerns if women would like to be leaders in the oil and gas workforce.  It depends on their individual preferences in terms of work and family lifestyle.  In my opinion, it is easier for a woman without children to give more time to her work than one who is a mother.  So, we may notice a growing trend of women not having children because of this.

How have things changed within the industry during your career?

I notice that in my company, there are more women working as Process Engineers compared to men.  Women Engineers can work well with the Operations team – by a gentle approach, explaining context rather than just asking for actions – which I think is a more female approach.

However, if comparing generations, then I also notice that the Gen-Y employees have a high turnover rate and focus on benefits today rather than future opportunities.

How do you see the industry developing over the next five years when it comes to gender diversity and opportunities for women to reach leadership?

With more diversity, I think that there will be more opportunities for new working styles, leading to more innovation and creativity in this world.

What would you say has been your biggest success story/a moment you’re particularly proud of in your career?

I am proud of every small success in life, even if people don’t notice it.  For example, if I can convince my engineers to change their mind-set!

Are there any mentors/female role models in the industry who you look up to?

My female idol is my mom. She can make all my “complex” problems seem simple and has taught me to be more generous.

How do you think growing awareness of sustainability will most impact the industry/your organisation?

In our company, GC, currently we have sustainability as one of the main priorities. GC was recently rated number one in the world for sustainability in the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) chemicals industry group. GC also ranked among the top 10 companies in the chemicals sector for the seventh consecutive year. These rankings reflect GC’s exceptional capabilities and commitment to sustainable operations, in line with other leading global companies, together with its strong support for the environment, society, stakeholders, and investors, to increase trust over the long term.

All of GC’s employees are aware that sustainability will help us survive in this industry long-term.

What does innovation look like at your organisation and how does this impact your customers?

Currently we are introducing many digitalisation projects and getting a group of employees trained in data science in parallel with recruiting people in this field.  We are aiming for more effective services for both internal and external customers.

What does the subject of digital transformation and IoT mean to you?

I (and may be some of us in this industry) are still confusing wording i.e. Digitalisation, Digital Transformation, and Digitisation, and not sure how to use each term to communicate how well we are applying digital to the manufacturing process.  Some applications have been used for quite a long time in my refinery, for example, Advance Process Control (APC), Real Time Optimisation (RTO), Quality Estimator (QE), Operator Training Simulation (OTS), etc.  Currently we are focusing more on how to manage information and data in more systematic ways to ensure that we can easily search it.  We are also aiming to apply Data Analytics tools for early prediction on any anomalies in process and equipment.

How do you see the role of the Industrial Internet of Things in refining, petrochemicals, & chemicals? What are the key benefits and opportunities of using IIoT solutions in downstream operations?

IIoT solutions can help us to get faster solutions. The focus should be on “who should be involved in the design of the IIoT solutions? If we get the best talent involved in the design of the module, then we can be sure that we will get the best results for further analysis and improving work.

What are the current challenges and hurdles that affect the spread and deployment of the Internet of Things in your organisation?

The biggest difficulty is getting the economic justification for the project(s). 

 “Developing diversity across a company isn’t a quick fix but is a long-term business imperative” – please elaborate from your perspective

In “GC”, we have a culture of respect others and to promote diversity.  “GC” not only has business in Thailand, but also worldwide, as Joint Ventures.  We should focus on performance, rather than the appearance of performance.

In your opinion, what is one of the best ways to attract more women into the oil and gas industry?

I don’t think there is any different approach to attract men or women to work in oil and gas industry.  I think recruiting people who fit with the company culture is more crucial.

What advice would you give to women considering a career in the downstream industry? Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started?

I would suggest everyone, not just women, should do the things which you love to do, not only what you can do well. I think the luckiest person is the one who knows what he/she wants and can set his/her destination early.