As a student, Sue Beattie, Maintenance and Integrity Manager in Perth, Australia, never thought about working for a big oil company. She admits to not finding the idea appealing because she grew up in an environmentally aware community. But, two years into a job at a different company, she was seconded to Shell for six months, working as a technologist at the Geelong Refinery in Australia. Soon, she was hooked on the Shell culture.

“People were striving to produce hydrocarbons in an environmentally sustainable way. It was also the time when Shell introduced the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. To me, Shell consisted of real people trying to solve real problems,” Sue says.

Since her secondment 18 years ago, she’s worked as Shell Global Solutions Technologist and Production Engineer and Operations Manager in Houston, Texas as well as Business Improvement Lead and FPSO (floating production storage and offloading) Operations and Maintenance Manager in Aberdeen, Scotland.  

Sue moved back to Australia in May to join the Browse FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) project team in Perth. “It’s good to be back home. I was a little nervous, to be honest – I haven’t worked here for a long time and I’ve gotten used to the European diversity. In our team, people spoke ten different languages and we represented almost all age groups. Shell focuses strongly on equality.

My managers have been enlightened, treating all people as equals. But the company manages to get a good mix of people together, no matter where you are in the world,” she says.

Sue has always had incredible support from her managers. “Willem Verdaasdonk, my manager in Aberdeen, gave me an incredible opportunity to run one of the facilities as a standalone organisation within a Shell context. His ability to give that away and trust me to do well was inspiring,” she shares. “The Deerpark chemicals site manager, Mary Mujica, had a big influence on me. It was the first time I had seen a senior leader who reminded me of myself and she inspired me to put myself forward for leadership roles,” she added.

"Everyone’s different - recognise what Shell can bring to you as a person and you won’t feel so constrained."

According to Sue, the levels of trust and support Shell employees get are unmatched. “Shell encourages people to work flexibly. Employees can spend some of their time working from home or they can work flexible hours. I had a guy in my team who had trouble with day care for his son, so we discussed the option of job-sharing, something he had never considered. Now he plans his working time around his son’s needs. Certain Shell facilities also have childcare facilities, making it easier for working parents to find balance,” she says.

For Sue, balance is the key to being happy. “Everyone’s different – recognise what Shell can bring to you as a person and you won’t feel so constrained. Thanks to the company’s mentoring programmes, there’s always someone who’s willing to listen and give a fresh perspective. My advice is to be the best you can be – hard work creates opportunities. People often focus on the opportunity instead of focusing on the job that needs to be done before the opportunity presents itself,” she says.

“I’m very proud of Shell – it’s an organisation that genuinely cares for the development of their people. That’s probably why I’m still here after 18 years.”

"Thanks to the company’s mentoring programmes, there’s always someone who’s willing to listen and give a fresh perspective."

Five quick quotes

  • “I am a tenacious, curious explorer – I think it’s exciting to push the boundaries, look at new areas and discover new cultures and new ways of doing things.” 
  • “As a child, I wanted to be a vet and travel the world, but my high school chemistry teacher convinced me to study chemical engineering.”
  • “I’m from Melbourne – they give us coffee when we’re born! I like a macchiato but also enjoy the occasional latte.”
  • “The iPhone is an incredible, ground-breaking invention. I’m a Steve Jobs fan – he was all about focus.” 
  • “I take part in triathlons – I usually train for one big event every year. Although I’m not particularly good at swimming, running or cycling, I do enjoy doing all three.”

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