By Firas Abussaud
Saudi Aramco, Petroleum Engineering System Specialist

In the challenging field of the oil and gas industry, finding ways to stay sharp and inspired is crucial. As a petroleum systems analyst, I find that incorporating hobbies into my professional life not only adds enjoyment to my work but also enhances my productivity and success. Photography, graphic design, and theater are three hobbies which have proven particularly useful in my career.

The Visual Impact of Photography and Graphic Design

Photography, more than just a hobby, is an exercise in problem-solving and attention to detail. In the field, I’m constantly challenged to find the right angle, lighting, and composition. These skills translate directly to my work in petroleum systems analysis, where I need to identify and resolve issues efficiently. The creative thinking fostered by photography helps me approach problems from different perspectives, a key advantage in application development and maintenance.

Graphic design is a hobby which demands, and consequently sharpens precision and visual communication skills. Choosing the right elements, such as colors and fonts, as well as achieving visual appeal, are critical aspects of graphic design. These skills are directly beneficial to my work, particularly when I am involved in the visual side of petroleum systems analysis, such as enhancing presentation slides, or advising on user interface. This attention to details ensures excellence in our applications’ visual and functional properties.

Strategically leveraging these hobbies allows me to sharpen my collaboration and communication skills, ultimately contributing to increased productivity and success within the dynamic team environment. The skill of visual expression simplifies the explanation of complex technical concepts.

The Transformative Power of Theater

My journey with theater began with a childhood paradox. In kindergarten, I was known as the “naughty kid” – lively, outspoken, and often too energetic for my own good. This label, however endearing it might have seemed, had an unforeseen consequence. As I grew older, the fear of being perceived continually as “the naughty boy” led me to retreat into a shell of shyness. I became extremely aware of how others saw me, and this awareness transformed my once energetic nature into silence.

It was in the world of theater that I found my escape and, more importantly, my transformation. The stage became a territory where I could express myself without the fear of judgment or labels. Each role I played was a step away from my shy persona, gradually rebuilding the confidence that had been overshadowed by my early childhood label. Theater allowed me to redefine myself, not as the ‘naughty kid’ nor the shy boy, but as a confident individual with a voice. The initial fear of standing on stage in front of an audience gradually transformed into a thrilling excitement. It was in this world of scripts and roles that I discovered my voice and learned the power of self-expression. The journey from backstage to the spotlight mirrored my journey from silence to confidence.

Beyond self-expression, theater taught me the art of communication. I learned to articulate my thoughts clearly and to engage with others effectively – skills that have become invaluable in my professional life. This skill has been particularly beneficial in my professional life, aiding me in negotiations, presentations, and everyday interactions.

Theater also imparted a deep life lesson: in the grand play of life, people remember the characters that made an impact, be they heroes or villains. This realization shaped my approach to my professional life. I strive to be a character who leaves a positive mark, one who contributes constructively and is remembered for good. It’s about playing a role that goes beyond old labels and becomes part of a larger, meaningful narrative. In addition, theater taught me the power of perception and self-reinvention. Just as I had moved beyond the ‘naughty kid’ label to rediscover myself on stage, I learned that in our professional lives, we have the power to redefine ourselves and our roles. This lesson has been crucial in my career, allowing me to approach challenges with a mindset not confined by past labels or perceptions.


As a petroleum systems analyst, I have found that integrating my hobbies into my professional life has significantly boosted my work performance. They have not only provided creative channels but have also sharpened my skills in the tech-driven world of oil and gas. For instance, the lessons learned from photography and graphic design in attention to detail and visual communication, combined with the confidence and adaptability gained through theater, have all seamlessly translated into my professional environment.

From confidently speaking in meetings to effectively collaborating on complex projects, these hobbies have enriched my professional toolkit. They weren’t just hobbies but journeys of personal growth and professional development. They have taught me to communicate clearly, work with diverse teams, and adapt quickly to unforeseen situations, all thanks to the diverse experiences gained from my personal passions.

For those seeking to enrich their professional skills, I cannot recommend enough the exploration of hobbies like Photography, Graphics design and theater. They are not just pastimes but pathways to unlocking greater potential in one’s career.

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