Lucia Lombardo comes from a line of inspirational women. Her grandmother emigrated from Italy to Australia after World War II. Stepping on the boat in Italy with one suitcase and her baby daughter, she only had a little bit of money and she couldn’t speak English. But her perseverance is what still inspires Lucia today.

“My grandmother and mother have always been my role models. Everything I know about hard work and dedication, I’ve learned from them. They instilled a hard work ethic in me and told me that family life is the most important thing,” she says. “My mother died when she was only 49, and this experience taught me that you never know what the future holds – you can’t expect things to just happen for you.”

Lucia Lombardo outside the Shell office

Lucia joined Shell in 2009 when the major law firm she worked for sent her on secondment. When she got the opportunity to join Shell full-time, she jumped at the chance. “I’ve always really enjoyed it here and found the projects interesting – there are a lot of moving pieces that have to fit and work together and I like the challenge,” she says.

“I’m a curious problem-solver. I’m very interested in what’s going on around me and I find my work very interesting. The lawyer in me loves seeing how things fit together and how matters can be resolved constructively.”

Shell’s egalitarian culture also made an impression on her. “Society will probably think this is a male-dominated industry but within the company, we’re all just trying to do our work to the best of our ability. Shell is very supportive of all its employees,” she says.

“I have the opportunity to work on high-profile projects and still have time for my young family,” she adds. “I work four days a week, allowing me to spend some extra time with my daughter Sienna (7) and son Christian (4). But flexibility goes both ways – if I get to work late or have to leave early, I know that I’ll work a little later or start a bit earlier the next day. It’s a juggling act but I realise that you can’t have it all and you should just try your best.”

That’s also the advice she’d give to working women. “Forget about absolute perfection in your life – you can’t do everything. I have good childcare options and family support. If you set yourself up with good help, it will make it easier for you to achieve your goals at work while ensuring the wellbeing of your family,” she says.

"Shell provides a flexible working environment and a lot of support in career advancements and learning and development."

She believes that work-life balance doesn’t really exist but that you should rather learn to manage your time appropriately. “Shell provides a flexible working environment and a lot of support in career advancements and learning and development. But it’s up to each individual to ensure the most important jobs are prioritised and that they ask for help. Sometimes people struggle to delegate as well – this is such an important lesson to learn. There’s no harm in asking for help.”

Lucia is passionate about Shell’s mentoring schemes. “I mentor two people informally as well as some younger women in our team. I’m also a volunteer for our WOW mentoring programme where students from disadvantaged schools get the opportunity to ask us for advice about their future job prospects,” she shares.

In terms of her own development, she thinks there are always diverse views on how to do things. “I’m still learning how to listen actively rather than immediately form a view and give my opinion. I think it’s something I’d advise everyone to do – always be prepared to really listen to others.”

Fast facts

  • Lucia and her team recently won the Upstream International Impact Award, recognising and celebrating teams that show extraordinary commitment to find ways do things, safer, cheaper and more effectively.
  • Lucia’s husband, Nino, is a partner in a law firm and they are both first-generation Australians.
  • Her family owns a home in Bunker Bay in the south-west of Australia where they spend most of their holidays. They enjoy swimming, walking, paddle-boarding and fishing.
  • As a child, she dreamed about becoming an astronaut or astronomer.
  • She loves having a quiet meal with her husband and reading books with her children.

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