Dimitra Vlachou (MSc Metals & Energy Finance 2012) made a complete change of career and industry when she decided to enrol on her MSc at Imperial, and has never regretted the decision. She now works as a Petroleum Economist for Wood Mackenzie, focussing on valuations of international oil and gas assets through  economic and fiscal modelling

Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?          

“I arrived for the first time in London one day before my MSc was officially starting. I lived the full Imperial experience, residing at Clayponds Village, Imperial's postgrads hall at South Ealing. My first day in a class full of international students was overwhelming. We were just two girls graduating in a class of 25 students in my year - not that it was ever an issue.

I spent time between petroleum engineering and mineral deposits classes at the Royal School of Mines and derivatives and portfolio management lectures at the Imperial College Business School. Combining these disciplines and shifting mentally from one to the other was academically challenging and kept me on my toes through the whole year. But I learnt a lot! From getting an overview of all the aspects of the oil and gas industry and understanding how the financial instruments are used in real world to cooperating with people of totally different cultures and idiosyncrasies, studying at Imperial was a constant exposure to something new.”

What is your fondest memory of your time here?        

“The MSc field trip to South Africa in May. Visiting a different mine every day (I have gone down in underground mines and visited diamond mines), lodging at places of a wide variety of luxury levels (one day I had a jacuzzi in my room and the next my shower was a pipe ending in a pierced metallic bucket) and having a night safari with my classmates during the weekend was an experience hard to beat.”

Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.            

“I have gained oil industry experience in due diligence and M&As as well as in corporate and economic modelling.

I currently work as a Petroleum Economist for Wood Mackenzie, a global energy, metals and mining research and consultancy group. I focus on economic and fiscal modelling of international oil and gas assets. In other words, I evaluate oil and gas projects to help oil companies in their investment decisions. I also assist governments to analyse and design their petroleum fiscal systems and oil companies to negotiate beneficial fiscal terms in the countries of their operations.

I am in the SPE Young Professionals committee in London, organising industry focused events and promoting networking between young professionals in the oil and gas sector.”

How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?           

“Imperial and more specifically the Royal School of Mines, have an excellent reputation in the oil and gas sector. I used this card to launch my first job in the competitive London market. Studying at Imperial was very demanding, which made me capable of effectively handling work pressures and made me unafraid of taking on new challenges.”

What are your plans for the future?     

“I would like to continue building my experience in the sector so I can become an independent consultant for governments and strategy departments of oil companies.”

What would be your advice for current students?        

“Establish a network while at Imperial. Many of your classmates will be highly accomplished individuals worth knowing in the future. When you get into the business world be willing to offer your help to your network without expecting direct reciprocation. It will be paid back to you when it’s most needed.”

What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?  

“During the summer of 2011, I submitted my resignation to Heineken (Athens) to enrol on my MSc at Imperial and make a total industry and career change from FMCGs to oil and gas. I have never regretted it.”

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?       

“’You can never be over-dressed or over-educated.’ Embrace your time at Imperial, delve into postgraduate studies if you feel like it. Bet on that, you will never regret it. (Trying to be well-dressed as well is always a good idea).”