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View from the Outside: "TAP invests in young scientists"

29 October 2019

In Greece, TAP has invested in various activities bearing a lasting social, environmental and educational impact on our host communities. To discuss one of TAP’s educational-related initiatives, we asked Mr. Evangelos Siskos, a Professor at the Department of International and European Economic Studies of the University of Western Macedonia.

Prof. Siskos is also the Director of the international Master’s Programme "Petroleum Oil and Gas Management and Transportation" (M.Sc. MOGMAT). MOGMAT is one of the two energy-related postgraduate programmes TAP is funding in the University of Western Macedonia, while also supporting the "Natural Gas Technology" educational and vocational programme, offered by the Kavala branch of the International Hellenic University.

Professor Evangelos Siskos

1. Describe the organisation you’re representing and your role in it. What are your biggest challenges?

The organisation I’m representing is the now unified, after the relevant decision of 7 May 2019, University of Western Macedonia (former Technological Educational Institute of Western Macedonia). Specifically, I am a Professor at the Department of International and European Economic Studies of the University’s School of Economic Studies. In addition, I am the instigator, founder and director of the Greek-Azerbaijani International Inter-university – Interdepartmental Master Programme "Petroleum Oil and Gas Management and Transportation" (M.Sc. MOGMAT). It is a unique Greek-Azeri Master’s programme, offered by the University of Western Macedonia, in collaboration with the Azerbaijan State University of Economics.  

One of the biggest challenges we faced was to successfully develop this unique postgraduate programme, which operates in the city of Kastoria and attracts students from all over the country. Also challenging for us currently, is to create branches of the M.Sc. MOGMAT in all countries traversed by the Southern Gas Corridor, of which TAP is a part. Namely, Azerbaijan (State University of Economics, Baku), from where the natural gas is sourced, and all intermediate transit countries: Georgia (State University, Batumi), Turkey (İstanbul University), Albania (University of Vlorë), and Italy (University of Naples).

Lastly, we consider it our challenge to train skilled executives for national and multinational companies of the oil and gas sector.

2. What changes have you noticed in your community after the implementation of this specific initiative (donation to cover tuition fees for postgraduate studies), within the framework of TAP’s Social and Environmental Investment programme?

Benefits from the implementation of this specific initiative are multiple. Firstly, TAP is investing in knowledge and in the training of young scientists. In the case of MOGMAT students, TAP’s investment took the form of a subsidy – for part of or all of their tuition fees. A total of 138 students (2 of whom were foreign) have attended the "Petroleum Oil and Gas Management and Transportation Master’s Programme, from the academic year 2015-2016 onwards. In fact, we recently held MOGMAT’s first ever graduation ceremony for 40 graduates.   

MOGMAT's first graduation ceremony in Kastoria, October 2019 (source: fouit.gr)

TAP’s tuition fees subsidy was significant, as it enabled students to attend the programme in the city of Kastoria, the economy of which also benefits from the operation of MOGMAT.

Furthermore, it has to be noted that many of our graduates are promptly employed –some of whom before graduation– as executives of Greek hydrocarbon companies (DESFA, ELPE, etc.), which also stresses the importance of TAP’s worthwhile initiative.  

3. What’s your opinion on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in general?

Corporate Social Responsibility is important, both for the companies and for the benefitting local societies. This is especially true for TAP, as it implemented the largest energy-related investment in Greece in recent years, but also one of the country’s most extensive Social and Environmental Investment programmes. And by supporting MOGMAT, TAP also supports the local community of Kastoria, as well as the University of Western Macedonia in general.

4. How would you describe your cooperation with TAP?

Our cooperation with TAP and the Bodossaki Foundation, which is implementing this specific initiative, has been excellent. All agreements were implemented in full and we will be delighted to continue this cooperation. 

5. What will you remember most from this experience?

The support given to the Greek-Azerbaijani International Inter-university – Interdepartmental common Master Programme "Petroleum Oil and Gas Management and Transportation" is dual, as TAP supports both the Greek academic community and the bilateral academic collaboration with Azerbaijan.

Inauguration event of TAP's donation to the University of Western Macedonia

And it’s a great pleasure for us, professors, that our postgraduate students are offered the chance to attend, with subsidised or no tuition fees, Master’s programmes of the caliber of M.Sc. MOGMAT.  In other words, postgraduate programmes that offer excellent career opportunities both in Greece and abroad – be it in national or multinational oil and gas corporations.