On February 18th 2017, 5 FutureLab mentors from Shell came to our office to share their 62 years of accumulated knowledge and experience. It was a lovely, intimate event and we were pleased to see the mentors extremely passionate about helping our community members create a career they love.
Our five mentors came from different departments in Shell. We learned that the oil and gas sector is so large that understanding and explaining the whole process from start to finish isn’t particularly easy. For this reason, the industry is generally broken down into the following three components: upstream, midstream and downstream. Many companies working within the industry will generally choose to specialise in one particular part of the process. Shell, however, is one of the rare companies working on all three.
It’s no surprise how the common theme in their career with Shell quickly became – wide exposure! We asked our five mentors to share with us their advice for graduates interested in working for Shell and this is what they said:
Does Shell hire year round?
Shell does hire all year-round. There is no specific deadline for applications but if you are looking to apply for the Shell Graduate Program, please note that the applications will close on the 28th of February 2017 to facilitate a new application process (the roll-out date of the new process will be announced on the Shell careers website shortly). There are materials online to prepare but this a good guide for an interview preparation – from the C.A.R criteria every applicant should know about to the type of technical questions to prepare for:
How did you start with Shell?
1. Surinderdeep: I was a Shell veteran with 24 years of experience. Upon entering Shell immediately after graduation, I quickly became disappointed because I was not tasked with writing software, which is what I wanted to do. Eventually, I moved on to several different departments, the first of which was retail automation, before ending my time with Shell on December 31st. Shell is one of the best places to be exposed to; in particular their core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people is something the organisation truly tries to live up to.
2.Vijay: I am from India, and I first stepped foot into Shell as a senior engineer and grew to lead regional team and eventually a global team of Engineers and Consultants. I believe if you have the right attitude and interest, and you work hard, there is nothing that can stop you. I have worked across the globe and had the unique opportunity to work with people across geography and culture. Virtual working while running a global business has its own charm and challenges and is provides a very rewarding experience. Shell is a brilliant organisation and I would suggest that the best way for you to join Shell is as a graduate. That way, you can learn the rules of the place early on and set yourself for success.
3. Chee Meng: Towards the end of my PhD, I had to decide between academia and the corporate life. Because of my interest in business, I ended up at a consulting firm. But my first love was engineering and I quickly realised that I wanted to seek something closely related. In 2014, I started working with Shell as a Pipeline Engineer – basically designing and installing offshore pipelines. I started through the Shell Graduate Program and found it to be very fulfilling and structured. The scope of work is very wide and the support system here is very strong. Whatever your passion and niche is, you will find the chance within Shell to develop it. The roles are designed to stretch you and you are given very real responsibilities from day one. When you exit the graduate program, the hope is that you would be equipped enough and on track to be a future leader at Shell.
4. Andy: I graduated as a chemical engineer but I never really wanted to be an engineer. I took up engineering mainly due to the fact that I like to innovate and solve problems besides knowing that this degree generates more options for me in terms of my career path. For instance, Banking, Oil & Gas, Consulting and so on. Shell visited my university and told us about the graduate program. I decided to apply and took the leap when I received the offer. I started off in Shell within the Contracting & Procurement skillpool and now I am in a B2B Commercial Business Development skillpool. I was thinking of leaving the company in my first month as my perception of Shell being a mega organization was around rigidity and hierarchy and I wasn’t a big fan of that. However, that was not the case at all, the culture, the people and the values in Shell were the reasons why I stayed and never looked back again. The development was amazing as challenges were always in the equation to keep me stretched and growing coupled with the fact that I had great leaders along my journey. I was in a range of roles cutting across the Upstream, Downstream and Integrated Gas businesses which includes “Senior Buyer”, “Contract Specialist”, “Planning Lead”, “Business Performance Lead” and now “Sales Manager”. In general, Shell is not going to mindlessly hand the ‘carrot’ to you. This is a company where you need to show constant hunger and deliver.
5. Zhi Yun: I am a process engineer with Shell. After graduating, I went into the finance industry. I worked for 3 years and explored economics and finance. After two and a half years of seeing what is out there and understanding the reality of it, I decided to change. I started on the Shell Graduate Program too, and it is really good. I received a diversified experience – it is a huge platform for you to be adventurous. I started off facing the computer a lot. I was then off-shore for over one year. I have been with Shell for 3 years now, and my roles have been very diverse. The great thing about Shell is that it recognises your strengths and exposes you to different opportunities.
What advice would you give fresh graduates looking for their first job and why?
1.Vijay: Be clear on what you want and most importantly what you don’t want. This helps you to narrow down on industry and working environment that you will enjoy.
a.Develop skills to analyse issues from multiple viewpoints. This helps you to better understand stakeholders and manage better. Demonstrate this ability in interviews so that your strength stands out.
b.Bring your unique ideas to challenge constructively. A simple question from a person with open mind has the potential to shake status quo and lead to Innovation and Continuous Improvement.
In all of that, remember that this is about your individual journey and what drives you.
2.Chee Meng: There are so many platforms available today versus say, twenty years ago, that there is no excuse to not be sufficiently informed about the available professions out there. Whether it’s graduate events or online communities, it really comes down to how resourceful you are as a person to find and use them to guide your career path
3. Andy: I will break down my answer down into 3 areas – passion, competitiveness and hunger.
a.The first is ‘passion’: You took up your degree course for a reason. You were building on your passion and interest. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, you need to pause, reflect and find that out. Speak to people from the industry you are passionate about, explore and understand the roles that are out there. Make a decision only after you understand what is on the table. There are loads of jobs out there but ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ if you don’t go out there and hunt.
b.The second one is ‘competitiveness’: Every single year many graduates come out from various universities and so on. The job market is challenging now in terms of the amount of jobs available, but companies like Shell would generally still be hiring young talents to keep the talent pipeline flowing. You have to show your competitiveness at all times and what differentiates you from the others. In university, grades are important. You have to do your best and the good grades are a bare minimum passing point. It represents your intelligence level to a certain extent and shows dedication, commitment and resilience. The next ‘vehicle’ would be you CV. Organizations do not just look at grades purely and some don’t even put much weight on the grades. They’re looking for the ‘overall package’, talents that can think off their feet, with great problem solving skills, leadership attributes, excellent interpersonal skills with amazing attitude. Hence, all the other involvements besides the academic piece are extremely essential as well. You would need to package them well and express these aspects and experiences within the CV.
Following the submission of the application, most people would take a back seat thinking it’s now beyond their control. But there is more that you can do. This is when the next area comes in.
c.‘Hunger’ : Follow up with all the companies you have applied to, and asked them for updates on the application process with enthusiasm. At every point, you need to sell yourself in terms of your passion and the value you can bring to the organization.
4. Zhi Yun: You need to take time to know yourself, what you like and what you don’t like. If you don’t do this, you will be miserable. Don’t be afraid to try new things out, even things that scare you and make you very uncomfortable. Initially, I didn’t like money but I explored finance, and ended up loving it for the structure it has. Eventually I realised, I did not want my career to be built on it, so I moved.
5. Surinder: If you like the really big questions such as: ‘What comes after oil? Are we really going nuclear? Is cold fusion possible?’, the oil and gas industry gives you the opportunity to explore these. I like the 30-50 year questions. It is hard for an entrepreneur to do that on his or her own. If you like those questions, oil and gas is for you to explore!
What is one word to sum up something that will help with career advancement?
1. Vijay: Clarity
2. Chee Meng: Systems
3. Surinder: Resilience
4. Andy: Competitiveness
5. Zhi Yun: Metamorphosis
Interested, Intrigued, Inspired? Would like to attend the next FutureLab Talks?