Benjamin Franklin once wrote that in this world the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Had the often prophetic statesman been born decades later and found himself working in the pipeline business, he most assuredly would have added a third area of guaranteed distress – corrosion.
Fortunately, unlike the two menaces that tormented Franklin, those in the pipeline industry have for years been able to count on NACE International to stand with them in their ongoing battle to prevent corrosion through its network of literally thousands of worldwide experts.
Taking the helm of NACE to lead those efforts beginning March 22 was Tushar Jhaveri, a 15-year member, who has served in a number of India Section leadership roles and as chairman for the NACE East Asia Pacific Region between 2008 and 2011. In 2001, he received the NACE India Section’s Corrosion Dedication Award. As an active participant and advocate for increased global activity by the organization, Jhaveri has worked for years to advance the participation of NACE’s 30,000 individual and 400 corporate members in 116 countries and boost certifications worldwide.
In this interview, the long-time chief executive of corrosion inhibitors and biocides manufacturer Vasu Chemicals discusses the challenges of providing services to a growing membership in an increasingly multilingual environment, the need to attract young scientists and professionals to the corrosion-prevention industry and some of the other NACE priorities for the coming year.
P&GJ: What are your priorities during your term as president?
Jhaveri: The first of these priorities is to ensure that our member services are easily accessible and uniform across the globe. Globalization is happening rapidly, and we have members in different time zones and speaking different languages. It is important that we look at how the delivery of our services is happening today.
Second, we want to strengthen our education programs and increase their importance among our members and their customers. NACE International is already established as the premier society for corrosion, but we need to make sure that our reputation is protected and grows internationally as well.
Third, since our board has also been very meticulous in formulating a strategic plan, we need to ensure that all our officers, committees, directors and staff are fully aware and aligned with the path forward to achieve our goals and meet our vision. This strategic plan lays out a lot of the foreign issues with regard to education, training and certification, as well.
Finally, our members and industry should benefit from our new standards and certification-related initiatives; we have to recognize the support and work needed to keep these up to date and relevant in our ever-changing world. That is one of the biggest challenges we have, because things are changing so fast. We have many established standards and procedures that need constant updating, and we need to do it in a manner which is expeditious for our members. Otherwise, people will feel we are complacent, because we are at the top. That is not the impression we want to convey.
P&GJ: Do you see any particular changes coming that will affect business in the coming year or two?
Jhaveri: I don’t see any drastic changes on the forefront, but I do foresee continued growth in demand for corrosion control and growing concern over the need for more talented individuals in the industry in light of the pending retirement of so many of our industry leaders. I think demand for talented professionals who understand corrosion and corrosion control is going to keep going up, especially in the U.S.
P&GJ: Are companies doing a better job of protecting assets, particularly pipeline assets, from corrosion?
Jhaveri: Absolutely, I believe they are. I see more information focused on this topic. There is increased focus on asset protection. For example, Tuesday morning [March 19] we had a talk on pipeline corrosion, and we ran out of chairs. This is certainly a good sign there is growing interest in the corrosion protection for pipeline assets. You have to protect the asset to protect people and the environment, which is what NACE is all about. I believe the message is making its way to those in the industry most affected, and there is increased focus on asset protection. We have to do all we can at NACE to feed this hunger for education.
P&GJ: Do you see government, not just in the U.S. but worldwide, placing more emphasis on corrosion protection for pipeline assets?
Jhaveri: Absolutely, there is immense focus now on human life lost – on accidents and safety. These concerns are certainly shared globally. I think the lessons learned in the U.S. are now being used globally, as well, and that U.S. actions and decisions are being closely monitored for examples to follow.
P&GJ: Are certain regions ahead of others in this regard? Is this led by governments or privately?
Jhaveri: Every region goes through its own learning curve. Everybody wants to look at the mistakes that others have made. But, sometimes, at the end of the day, the mistakes are repeated in spite of that. I would not say one [region] is ahead of the other. I think it all depends on different areas and how much “teeth” the regulator has. Since in certain areas around the world you can see the regulator does not have much strength, it is the private sector driving things. Where the regulator has teeth, then it’s the law that is driving that. Over time, it’ll be more equally distributed, especially with new infrastructure development and the globalization of standards and recommended practices.
Standards are excellent; so much work has gone into developing these standards, and we want people to take benefit of it globally. In terms of global infrastructure, there is not much new infrastructure happening in the U.S., it’s more outside the U.S., so that is where people are absorbing all of these practices and standards, trying to ensure that we don’t have to spend too much time on the learning curve.
P&GJ: What are the biggest concerns of members, both foreign and domestic?
Jhaveri: How corrosion failures affect safety and put human lives at risk, also the down times and resulting lost production. Gas line leaks and shut down sections are always a concern, always something we work to avoid. Companies want their investment in corrosion mitigation to translate into protection of their assets. That’s the biggest concern for any company, my company, and it’s the one, I think, I share with many of my fellow NACE members.
P&GJ: What effect is the continuing shale play having on the potential of pipeline corrosion, and how is this being monitored?
Jhaveri: Huge shale reserves are present in the U.S. – Marcellus Shale in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York – and Utica Shale in Texas and Oklahoma. There is a lot of rush and a lot of hurry to take advantage of this because it is viewed as a lower cost, new source of energy. In these cases, we should not forget or diminish the importance of good maintenance and corrosion control procedures. So, I think, this will play a very big role. In fact, we have set up an ad hoc committee, which is conducting seminars with oil and gas companies in the U.S. to create awareness about how important corrosion control is, and the need to maybe, sometimes, slow down and make sure the right procedures and strategies are in place to ensure safe operations.
Corrosion problems have to be addressed in well casings, gathering piping. Also, the impact of corrosion on rural area due to corrosive environment has to be understood. Solutions include selection of proper materials, coatings and CP (cathodic protection). NACE is working to educate and provide resources to companies doing the exploration and drilling.
P&GJ: Is NACE looking to implement any new services?
Jhaveri: Yes, we’re looking to extend our reach into other areas in the Middle East and China to meet member demand. You know, this year we opened an office in Shanghai and in Saudi Arabia. We are 70 years old, and for 65 years we only had an office in Houston. In the last five years, we opened four offices outside the United States and now several more in the U.S., so we are understanding the need for broadening our reach and services.
We’re also looking into strengthening our member services and education programs, and we’ve recently even launched a new mobile app, so members can access information with the click of a button, where they are, when they need it – without waiting until they go back to the office.
Also, we’ve rolled out a new corporate membership program that allows participation at different levels. The benefits are very distinct, so that the company that’s at “diamond” [level] has a distinction over the member at the silver level, who is maybe looking at moving up to the diamond.
P&GJ: Is NACE working with any research groups?
Jhaveri: Yes, we’re working with several research groups. Concerning the pipeline, we have the Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI). We are also involved with universities, including University of Akron, Ohio State, Ohio University, University of Virginia and universities in Australia, India, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. NACE’s research committee brings together the research arms of all the universities that do anything with corrosion. The universities I’ve mentioned and many other universities are on the committee, and they come together to share information. This week, we have the Bridging the Gap forum, because the committee wants NACE to help bring research from researchers to business. In fact, part of our strategic plan is to attract younger members, and one of the ways we will do it is through global outreach programs for students. Recently, we had our first international conference, only for students, in Mumbai, India.
P&GJ: How much has NACE grown in the past couple of years? Do you expect this rate of growth to continue? What are the challenges in managing this type of growth?
Jhaveri: In two years, our membership has grown almost 20%. We now have more than 30,000 members in 116 countries, which is significant, and we expect this growth to continue. We’ve laid out a strategic plan to best service members, and people are seeing us now as more of a global organization than just a U.S. organization. The challenges we face involve making sure that the content we deliver is aligned with the needs of our membership, and that we deliver that content in a timely, professional and uniform way to members, worldwide. Achieving this will require us to put a lot of systems in place, and we are doing that right now. We are adding staff, globally. The association is growing fast, and we need to make sure our operating system and our internal infrastructure is also growing at the same speed.
P&GJ: That much growth is kind of different for a professional organization these days. It seems like most are shrinking. To what do you attribute NACE’s success in retaining members and attracting new ones?
Jhaveri: That growth is beautiful information for NACE – that all of our dashboards are in the nice “green zone.” That is why we want to attract the newer generation of professionals to come to the corrosion field, because we are really insulated even during the recession. Whether you are doing well in business, or whether you are in a recession, the need for corrosion control never stops. Corrosion is happening 24-seven, no matter what time of year it is. I think people have begun to understand that, and you will be seeing more and more demand. I think it is good that NACE International has kind of pressed the pedal a little more during this time to further increase our prominence in the corrosion business.
P&GJ: How did you get into the industry, and what was the career path that led to your current position with Vasu Chemicals?
Jhaveri: I obtained my degree in chemical engineering in India [Mumbai University], and then I came to the U.S. to do my graduate studies [University of Florida], in Materials, Science and Engineering. After finishing my education, I went back to India, which was about 20 years ago. We had our own business that manufactured corrosion inhibitors. During my college days, one of our professions was a NACE fellow in those days, so I knew about NACE. When I went back to India, I encountered several situations where my clients were complying with NACE standards and recommended practices, so I became a member and was fortunate that the first year I became a member, the NACE president from the U.S., Brian Holtsbaum, visited India for one of our first conferences. It was a really inspiring meeting, and I joined the local section and served as a secretary and treasurer for many years, then became the NACE chair from India. Then, I became the area director and served on the Board of Directors of NACE International from 2008 until 2011. Those three years were very interesting for me, and I made a lot of friends and gained a better understanding of NACE’s leadership role in the industry.