Joanna Wong, a Petroleum Engineering graduate from the Curtin University of Technology, joined Shell’s Graduate Programme in 2018. She takes us through what the beginning of her career at Shell was like.
The graduate programme is three years long and, during this time, I know I will get a well-rounded view of all the assets and the technical disciplines in this large organisation. My peers who have joined the programme speak very highly of it. The opportunity to travel for work is also attractive to me.
Relocation and its perks
Relocating from Perth to Brisbane was a really good move for me because most of the Shell assets and operations are in Queensland. While I'm here, I'm able to visit sites in Chinchilla, all the upstream wells, compressing facilities, and the big LNG plant in Gladstone. Being able to go out to these sites, work with my colleagues there, and be involved in the groundwork, really sets the foundation for me to get a comprehensive understanding of the business and be a subject matter expert later on in my career.
An unforgettable experience to start your career
I had a really fulfilling experience spending two weeks on our midstream asset in Gladstone and Curtis Island. I was there for a turnaround and there were more people on site than during the day to day operations, so I was able to experience a lot of different things. There were plenty of jobs going on and a lot of permits being issued. Every day was new and exciting, it was actually like a personal accelerated learning programme. I got involved in almost every part of the turnaround, giving me a good overview of what was being done and the things that we're changing. Being involved in incident investigations meant I got to sit in on workshops and go through root cause analysis and do risk assessments. It was especially valuable for being able to talk to the leaders when they did their leadership walk downs.
The whole two weeks was an incredible experience for me, I leant so much from the many different aspects of the whole turnaround.
Diversity in the workplace
The team I work with is quite evenly split between genders, and Shell always has diversity campaigns and Lunch and Learn events to share what they're doing in regard to gender and racial diversity. Shell is very encouraging of diversity in every aspect of the business, both in the office and on-site.
Standing for Goal Zero
I am very proud of the Goal Zero initiative at Shell, which strives for no harm, no leaks.
I was very impressed with my time on our midstream assets. During the two weeks there, we put a big focus on safety rather than a schedule-driven turnaround. This was very difficult to implement on-site because we had thousands of people coming from different companies and different parts of the world, so I learned a lot just by observing the leadership team do that and establish a unified culture for safety.
People weren’t stressed about schedules or meeting project deadlines because we were always focused on safety. Different teams even came up with their own safety campaigns, which was very impressive.
How to succeed at Shell
Everyone at Shell has the heart to help. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think something can be improved on, or if you want to challenge the status quo. One of the key things we value at Shell is to challenge risk normalisation. Safety is our number one priority, so risk should always be minimised. In my function specifically, it’s important to build rapport with everyone because we support all business areas.