Dr. Erfan Vafaie Fard
Meet Dr. Erfan Vafaie Fard from Iran! Discover the fascinating career of this former Total International Scholar, now working at OPEC in Vienna.
Back in 2007, Erfan applied for a Total International Scholarship after completing his studies in Chemical Engineering in his home country of Iran. Looking back at his experience, he says, “Total Scholarships are one of a kind! With Total, you get the whole package: you can go to top schools and you receive help and support from the Total team.” A great opportunity then? Erfan agrees but says that, “The selection process is really tough - I was the only applicant from the Sharif University who received a scholarship, out of around 40 students. There were just 3-4 students from other universities in Iran. But it’s definitely worth it!”
A World of Opportunities and Career Possibilities
So why was he particularly interested in studying at IFP School, as a Total International Scholar? “I was very interested in studying at the famous IFP School, as it offered a joint program in Petroleum Economic and Management with Audencia Grande Ecole in Nantes.” Erfan’s success story continued after graduation, when he interned at Total Exploration and Production in Paris and was then hired by Total Refining and Marketing in Iran, as a Sales and Marketing Advisor.
What was next for Erfan? “Six months after I started my job in Total Iran, I received a scholarship from Skema Business School in France to do a PhD in Strategy, Program and Project Management. For my PhD thesis, I decided to focus on ‘The European energy security’ and specifically on ‘How bilateral strategic agreements can improve energy supply in the long term for the EU’. Between 2010 and 2014, I split my time between France and Iran while I was not only working on my PhD, but also as an International Advisor to the Managing Director of the Institute for International Energy Studies in Iran.”
Expanding Professional Horizons
What a great opportunity – but there’s more to come! Three years ago, Erfan successfully completed another selection process for his dream job. “I was appointed to the OPEC Secretariat in Vienna. It’s a really exciting opportunity to work here, as there are very few organizations in the world focusing on economy, diplomacy and also the development of the energy market.”
So what’s it like to work at OPEC? “I work in the Energy Studies Department. I analyze and evaluate the development of global alternative energies such as renewables. I work on the economics, opportunities, challenges, and market developments and in general the medium and long-term prospects for these types of fuels.”
Intercultural Skills: Key to Workplace Success
Sounds like a fascinating workplace – does Erfan have any advice for anyone interested in working in a similarly diverse and multicultural environment? “What I love about OPEC is that I learn a lot about how to deal with cultural differences and social diversity. We have colleagues from more than 35 nationalities working successfully together in teams. Therefore, to work in such an atmosphere, one definitely needs to understand intercultural differences. This is a skill that I have developed since my time at IFP School - nowadays I believe it is a key skill for success in any international business.”
Finally, what’s next for Erfan? “I would like to continue working in the energy sector as it is dynamic and challenging. In time, I will look for a role in another international organization. After that, I may start to work with energy companies as an energy adviser whilst also pursuing my plans as an entrepreneur in the private sector.”
Good luck Erfan – we wish you every success!