Jateen Chohan explains how he went from working in his dad’s kebab takeaway to lead onshore pipeline engineer at consultancy firm Wolsey Parsons, and why it’s important to remember that university isn’t the only route to success.

What is your current job title?
Lead onshore pipeline engineer at WorleyParsons.

What does your job entail on a day-to-day basis?
Th engineering of oil and gas pipelines, mainly in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Working within a team of people, talking to various other engineering disciplines to ensure the products we deliver (technical documentation) are designed correctly. Day-to-day it probably seems like most nine to fives but there is always some challenge that needs to be overcome either that day, that week or in the next month which keeps you on your toes.

How did you get involved in your current industry?
A short long story… Got a graduate job at Transco, now called National Grid (the guys who dig the road up to put in yellow plastic pipes). I left them after a corporate restructure led to me having to move home, put my CV out there and got very lucky as I ended up being recruited into a pipeline engineering consultancy firm… and I never looked back.

What was your first ever job and did you enjoy it?
Working in my dad’s kebab takeaway. It had its benefits (free food) but was way too much hard work. Spending my weekend evenings partying? Not a chance… they were the busiest times at the shop!

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you want to be doing career-wise?
I really don’t know. I love DIY so maybe a construction business or something like that?

In terms of educational/career attainment, what are the main challenges facing BAME young people today and what do you think can/should be done to overcome them?
There is a lot of stigma attached to the manner in which BAME young people talk and conduct themselves in public, although it is not a BAME problem alone . To overcome this, consider dressing a little smarter, put a smile on your face and most of all, be polite to people. Tthey’ll remember you that way -much of life is about perception.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young person who wants to work in your industry, what would it be?
If you have a degree, particularly in engineering, look up “pipeline engineering consultancies” or “oil and gas engineering” on google, call them up and ask if they have any opportunities. Get your foot in the door and then show them what you are made of. You don’t have to be on  a graduate recruitment scheme.

Anything else to add?
Everyone has the potential to achieve something meaningful to them, it doesn’t have to boil down to going to university, as great a mechanism as that is to achieving something and getting a job. For me, the important thing is that you must enjoy what you do as a career/job. If you do not want to wake up and go to work each day, then it isn’t the right thing for you. Carry on looking for that opportunity but don’t give up the current job until you find it – money is a necessity in life: earn it and value it.

Oh, and one more thing… People, all people, deserve to be respected until you have personally engaged with them and you learn otherwise.