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Unlocking Success: Exclusive Q&A With Natan Battisti on the Benefits of Mentoring

YP and petroleum engineer Natan Battisti spoke with The Way Ahead about the role SPE's mentoring program played in his career and his motivation for helping others as a mentor.

Battisti works with students and YPs as part of the SPE Ambassador Lecturer Program, shown speaking at an event in 2024.

For young professionals (YPs) mentoring can be one of the most valuable assets in their career. With YPs and students accounting for a large number of SPE members, SPE’s eMentoring program provides a way for mentors to contribute to the E&P industry by sharing industry insights and practical career advice with YPs, or by helping university students with academic and career direction.

Natan Battisti

YP and petroleum engineer at Harbour Energy, Natan Battisti, has been involved in the eMentoring program since 2013 serving both as a mentor and a mentee. In this Q&A he shared his experience with The Way Ahead.

TWA: How did you first become involved with SPE’s eMentoring program?

Natan Battisti (NB): I started my SPE journey in 2013 as member of the SPE UFPel Student Chapter, and in 2014 when I became part of the committee one of my tasks was to find in the early SPE website content that would be valuable for our members. It was difficult 10 years ago.

When I found information about the eMentoring program, I knew that would be a game changer to anyone that decided to utilize it. That was when I started to be a mentee.

My English was terribly bad but even in that case, I created a profile, started with a mentor and since then I have had 5-6 mentors through the program.

TWA: What motivated you to seek a mentor?

NB: As a mentee I saw how much value I was gaining from that relationship, so I thought, why not share what I have with others. Since I got a job as engineer, I decided I had something to share, and if someone found it useful, I would then pass forward. That has been the case for 5 years.

TWA: Tell us about your experience as a mentee in SPE’s eMentoring program. What skills did you learn? How did it help you achieve your professional and personal goals?

NB: It is all about connection. We are a small society that does a lot; we power 60% of the world, with less than a million geologists, engineers, etc. The closer we are, the better, and the industry is good at it, but it needs self-starting, prompting of conversations, finding allies, etc. From early on I tried to identify people I could share my thoughts with, test hypotheses, and clear the pathway ahead. The mentoring I’ve received has been great for all of that.

More than this, when I was thinking about changing from one area to another area or moving to different countries, my mentors were always there, happy to share their experiences and connect me with other key professionals> In hindsight, all of that helped me to make risk-based decisions that led me to where I am today.

TWA: What advice would you give to students and YPs seeking a mentor?

NB: Be proactive: reach out, take initiative, ask questions, show interest.

Be your own boss: Don’t expect the mentor to come up with a detailed plan. You own your career; you are the one to come up with a development journey and share what you expect from the mentor. You are the one that should establish an agenda, be reasonable with timing, and try to be effective.

Be friendly: We are already colleagues in profession, no matter the age and/or experience gap; we are in the same industry; and we are here to help each other to keep pumping the needed energy source for the world.

TWA: How do you stay engaged and motivated in your career?

NB: My career is a big part of who I am. My friends, my hobbies, my family—it is all kind of mixed, and that happens because I found purpose in what I do.

My recommendation to any YP or student is to find your purpose early on (note that might change and adapt over time) and frame it, talk to yourself every day about why you are getting up 6:00 a.m., cycling in the rain, working a 10-hour shift sometimes to cover unexpected issues, etc. Money matters, power matters, title matters, but at the end of the day, as time passes by, why you are doing all of this is linked to your purpose of life. The earlier you can get that clear, the easier your decisions become.

I am lucky to have found purpose in what I do as a petroleum engineer. Having that, how can I not be motivated to change the world and get more energy to more people and kill energy poverty? I love it!

TWA: You now act as a mentor with the eMentoring program. What inspired you to become a mentor?

NB: I mentor not just with SPE, but also in other programs. It is good to share, but I am always learning with the mentees. At the end of the day, I call my mentees my friends. I tell them that if I am going to their city, I will call them to grab a drink.

I never will forget when in 2019 I went to the US (my first business trip) and my mentor at the time, Mark Van Domelen, drove from Oklahoma to Houston, to grab dinner with me and talk about my career, well stimulation, shale, etc. That happened with other mentors such Mikhail Gretskiy and Jorge Lopez from Shell. That is the core of our industry: share, learn, and grow.

TWA: How do you ensure that your mentoring is effective and beneficial for the mentee?

NB: The mentee needs to come up with the plan. I try to help, I give tips, I set clearly what I am there for, and I expect the mentee to be proactive. I don’t do hand holding, that needs to be clear.

And why I take this approach is because if the mentee doesn’t see the value of creating a plan, an agenda, and setting the standard, how can the mentor help? This for me is critical, no matter the experience from both sides, mentee and mentor, if someone is taking 30 minutes to an hour of their busy day to talk to you, please be mindful of that, so both sides can use it for the greater good.

TWA: Can you provide an example of how you have helped a mentee set and achieve their goals?

NB: I would mention Dhaiara Machida. She was my mentee a couple of years ago. She was at the beginning of a petroleum engineering course and full of energy. I helped her by asking questions about where she wanted to be, what she wanted to do, etc.

After 6 months, the mentoring program finished but Dhaiara and I kept working together on different projects. She started working in her SPE chapter, and then became the president of the UFPel Student Chapter. Most recently, as she explored various job opportunities, she used me as a sounding board before she made critical decisions.

Today we are friends. She was already brilliant and ready to shine early on, but my role as a mentor was to help her to frame her purpose and to drive her strong energy early on, and I think she has done it.

TWA: How do you stay updated with industry trends and developments to provide relevant advice?

  • Bloomberg Energy Daily
  • Reuters
  • LinkedIn
  • SPE Magazines
  • EPBR Agency, a news agency for Brazil-specific information
  • Switch Energy Alliance
  • AND THE MOST IMPORTANT—I talk with a lot with people, get their feedback, etc.

TWA: What resources or tools do you recommend for continued learning and development?

  • Discover your principles—Ray Dalio’s assessment
  • Complete and own your development program
  • Attend face-to-face events and talk to people

TWA: How do you measure the success of a mentoring relationship?

NB: I try to make sure that especially students understand what the expectations for them are when they come to the market. When I see my mentee’s LinkedIn posts and see their updates of new jobs, pictures of them attending conferences and speaking at events, publication of a paper, or taking a leadership position at SPE, I get the feeling that things went well, and that really makes my day.

TWA: What advice would you give to those interested in becoming a mentor?

NB: Remember that you didn’t get where you are alone. Someone helped you. Be that someone and I am sure it is a great win-win relationship.

Learn more about the SPE eMentoring program. Sign up to request a mentor or to become a mentor.