David Gunaseelan is a product manager (ancillary grade) for Castrol. He is based in the UK but travels worldwide in his role supporting customers and developing new products.
How did you become interested in the marine environment?
I enjoyed science and maths at school, and they were my strongest subjects. I grew up near a port and shipping always interested me, so I decided to study marine engineering. After my BSc degree in marine engineering, I started work as an engineering cadet and worked my way up to chief engineer on board a vessel, and my interest grew from there. How has your career progressed so far?
After working as a chief engineer at sea, I gained employment as a service and commissioning engineer for Alfa Labal in Sweden. In this role, I concentrated on the technical aspects of marine engineering and worked with the company’s biggest customers, looking at their oil needs and providing them with technical expertise. During this time, I took a number of internal courses. Then I came to Castrol where I am a technical engineer on the customer front. I also lead the technical team for Scandinavia. Throughout my time with Castrol, I have attended many different internal courses, including courses on leadership, communication skills, marketing, and product management and technology.
What are your main responsibilities/tasks?
I manage the technical aspects of the companies’ product range including gear oil, hydraulic oil, turbine oil and environmentally- friendly products. In addition, I provide technical support in the marketing of the products; this includes customer presentations and industry exhibitions. Working with the worldwide technical team, we look at our customers’ needs and help to develop new products accordingly. Similarly, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) developing new products and systems often approach us to discuss their oil and lubrication needs.
I also run the helpdesk service for technical people around the world who may have queries about our products.
What are the main qualities and skills you need to do your job?
To do my job, you need:
- to be enthusiastic about technology and the technical side of the shipping industry
- strong communication skills
- the ability to deal with different groups of people, from scientists to customers.
Project management experience and marketing skills are also helpful.
Where do you see your career heading?
At the moment I really enjoy my job. Perhaps in the future I may move into more project work or lead training courses, as this is an aspect of my job I really enjoy.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My job involves a combination of dealing with technical issues, training people, running projects and trouble shooting – so there’s no time to be bored! No two days are the same and there is always something new and interesting to learn. I also get to travel a lot and meet some great people! I have really enjoyed running the helpdesk service as it has given me an opportunity to speak to, and help, many different people all over the world.
Do you have any tips for someone considering a similar career to yours?
Marine engineers are in high demand at the moment. Although a degree will give you a sound knowledge base, you also need practical experience, such as working on a ship, ideally as an engineer.