Rising Stars Winner Q&A

Damian Kwiatkowski, Junior Process Engineer, Grupa LOTOS

2019 Winner – Part of the Rising Stars Winner Q&A, with Sarah Casey, Project Director, World Refining Association

Published on 16th July 2020

How has lockdown been treating you and how has it affected your work routine?

Of course lockdown was a horrible time for the global economy, but personally I think that was a great opportunity to stop and rethink my priorities. Work-wise, coronavirus was a challenge and an exam for Grupa LOTOS, as with other refineries, and I can say that LOTOS passed this exam very well. Personally I really like working from home; it is more flexible, the meetings are shorter and I have more time to think on how to solve a problem.

How has your career progressed since Rising Stars?

After winning the Rising Star award I received many congratulations; after returning to my job, my colleagues were waiting with a cake! It is too early to answer this question. This competition made me realise that if you really want to win, you can. For me it was great to have the possibility to take part in ERTC and meet people from the refining industry and have discussions with them.

What would you recommend to future Rising Stars applicants?

Don’t be afraid, set yourself ambitious goals. This is a Rising Star contest, so I’ll quote the Latin phrase ‘per aspera ad astra', which means ‘through hardships to the stars'. As a piece of advice, your presentation shouldn’t be a boring, scientific lecture. It’s not the right place for it since you have only 5 minutes. The presentation should be light, interesting and a little bit funny!

What do you think the biggest challenge is at the moment for refining?

Our industry has many challenges. The biggest are decarbonisation and energy transition. I think that a very important part of this transition will be hydrogen as an energy carrier and that our energy transition should be smart, ensuring that as we address current problems: new ones do not arise too often.

What do you think the young engineers of today will say to our 2020 Rising Stars question? (A Day in the Life of a 2050 Process Engineer: How would you revitalise the downstream sector for a role in the energy transition?)

The process engineers of 2050 will be very flexible people, but still will be focusing on how to optimise processes. I think that refineries will become more complex. These refineries will still be producing conventional fuels, but also petrochemicals, biochemicals and ‘green energy’. Refineries will be energy hubs and I think that young engineers will focus on those aspects.

What is your favourite book?

When I was younger it was Harry Potter or Robinson Crusoe. Now I really like Truth: A Brief History of Total Bullsh*t by Tom Phillips.

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