Face Behind the Data: Debasis Chatterjee, Director of Research and Analytics

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Face Behind the Data Profiles Debasis Chatterjee, Director of Research and Analytics

Get to know the faces that are working hard behind the scenes to unleash your data’s potential.

This month for our Face Behind the Data profile series, we are excited to introduce, Debasis Chatterjee, Director of Research and Analytics. Debasis is a thought leader and invaluable resource for Katalyst. From ideation to execution, Debasis has been involved in the creation of multiple Katalyst solutions.

Debasis has a passion for creating alignment within operations and data management, and we’re excited he could contribute his experience to Face Behind the Data, a series of profiles that feature the hard-working employees behind the solutions and services at Katalyst.

What is your educational and work experience background?

  • I graduated in Electronics Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology and started my career back in 1977. The initial part of my career was in the general IT field. Later, I joined Schlumberger Oilfield in 1981 and that is when I started to deal with subsurface data.
  • Much later, I also completed a Certificate course in “Business Intelligence” from University of Calgary in 2005. Other certification courses include ITIL, Prince2 (Project Management).
  • During my lengthy career (Schlumberger, Noah Consulting and Katalyst), I also attended several professional training sessions in various fields such as Operating System (Unix), Relational DBMS (Oracle), Master Data Management, Software Project Management (RUP) among others.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

  • Back in 1984, I managed to build single-handedly a Multi-Well Database solution using VAX-VMS (OS), Ingres (Relational Database), Dynamic Graphics (display of contour, 3D view) and other components. Schlumberger sold the solution and services to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as a multi-million dollar project.
  • I led large teams in India (ONGC), Malaysia (Petronas) for large Data Management projects.
  • Product Champion of Prosource and Seabed. Significant evolution to streamline multiple products (Finder, LogDB, SeisDB and others).
  • At Katalyst, a major highlight was to be involved with the initial release of iGlass Editor and working with some of the early clients to see its evolution to a mature product.
  • Later, with Katalyst, another highlight was to manage SeismicZone development from scratch to fruition in a very short time and with a fresh development team.

Did you grow up wanting to be a data manager?

Not really. With my academic background, I had a wide career choice. I opted to get into IT as that was the popular field with a good number of jobs then.

How did you get here?

My first job was dealing with EDP (Electronic Data Processing) which was another term for computerizing manual processes. Those were the early days in computing with punched cards being used for both computer programs and actual data input. I found that evolution fascinating. In fact, the EBCDIC header in a Seg-Y file is actually 40 cards, each card holding 80 characters of text.

Later, after joining Schlumberger, I got introduced to well logs and much later to seismic data. While dealing with this subject, I found a sweet spot for Relational Database (initially Ingres, and later Oracle).

Over the years, I have learned a lot about end user requirements (to simplify data handling and automation) and how to incorporate them into more and more advanced solutions.

At the stage of my career that I am now in, I am excited to play the role of a technology evangelist within Katalyst and in the field in general.

What are some big lessons learned and/or challenges faced along the way?

Lessons learned – “The Mythical Man Month” in Software Project Management. It takes careful planning and strict execution to keep projects on time and within budget.

As far as challenges go, I think the biggest one is to clearly understand the business requirement from day one. Most cases of misalignment come from this, so a developer who didn’t get requirements properly laid out will build something and then get negative feedback from the business when it is presented. This leads to rework which impacts schedules and cost. It is important to get the business closely aligned from the beginning and also during the development process.

 What advice do you have for people beginning their career?

  • “I believe strongly in knowledge sharing. It’s important to avoid keeping knowledge “under your sleeves.” Nobody can boil the ocean single handedly, so there needs to be a strong team that is working together towards a common goal.”
  • There are two types of resources in this field (Geoscience IT) – “IT and less domain.” “Domain and less IT.” They should help one another and complement as needed.
  • Learn shamelessly from your colleagues. At Katalyst, we are fortunate. There are several resources with rich domain knowledge.
  • Do not accept “status quo.” Instead think of bringing in improvements within workflow solutions.

Are there any organizations or volunteer groups that you are passionate about?

I have been taking active part in several non-profit organizations – SPE papers (in the early part of my career), PPDM (Business rules, Reference values..), EAGE (Technical Committee), OSDU (current assignment, various work-groups), NDR, Energistics.

I have also been nominated as PMC Vice Chair at the OSDU forum.

What are some of your favorite things to do and/or places to visit outside of work? 

  • I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world through international postings and business trips.
  • My Favourite things are: group assignments, sports, and fun events, which are part of team building.
  • I like to read books, watch cinema or plays and play tennis. And more recently, playing with my grandchildren!