Curiosity is key
Jessica Zhu, Marketing Operations Manager for China Lubricants, has more than 11 years’ experience in the lubricants business. She shares her own story and gives advice for women wanting to join Shell.
After obtaining her degree in Civil Engineering and spending some time working as an engineer, Jessica Zhu realised she wanted to move into a commercial role instead. Working for a few years in the commercial and marketing industry, a few of her friends who were already working for Shell encouraged her to apply for a role at the company. She joined Shell in 2003 and hasn’t looked back since.
“When I think about it now, Shell has always been on my radar thanks to my friends. I’ve now been in the lubricants business for 11 years and I’m currently working as the Marketing Operations Manager of China Lubricants,” she shares.
“I enjoy the lubricants business because the teams are diverse and everyone respects each other. I think the company offers the best opportunities in the oil and gas industry. There is a variety of roles you can choose from and it really offers a great platform from which to start a long-term career.
It’s not only about developing yourself in a particular role in a single business – you can transfer between businesses and feel as if you’re starting a great new adventure while keeping the familiarity of working for a company you’ve been with for years.
People tend to move to a new position every three or four years, giving them a chance to continue developing their skills. With roles changing so often, there is no time to stagnate or get bored.
“I also enjoy the incredible diversity in Shell – it really creates an interesting company culture. We enjoy learning from each other and having people from different walks of life on the same team generates the best creative ideas,” she explains.
“Every job has its difficulties though. For me, the challenges are two-fold – managing people while thinking about the business is always hard. My day-to-day work involves managing and caring about the dynamics in the team, thinking about each person’s development and growth and looking at potential opportunities for the business.
“But I’m immensely proud to be a part of our winning team. Our business is constantly expanding and we’ve become an important contender in the global arena.
We value communication and there is mutual support and alignment between employees and management. Alignment is important, especially when crucial decisions are being made,” she says.
When talking about work-life integration, she admits it can be a challenge, but one worth pursuing. “I try to spend as much time with my parents and extended family as possible,” says Jessica. “In my private time, I enjoy gardening and taking photographs. I also love to travel and tend to go to places I haven’t been before – I enjoy new experiences.”
"You can transfer between businesses and feel as if you’re starting a great new adventure while keeping the familiarity of working for a company you’ve been with for years."
Shell helps her maintain a good work-life balance. “I’m part of the Shell China Women’s Network – a great networking opportunity where we talk about everything from families and our children’s education to engagement at work.
The discussions at our workshops are always informative and we plan several events every year, all aimed at supporting and encouraging women and helping them create a better, happier life at work.
“My advice to other women wanting to join Shell would be to start with a goal in mind. There are a lot of career options, so it’s crucial for you to know exactly what you want. Try to learn as much as you can and be brave when sharing your ideas and opinions. Women often keep quiet when it comes to sharing ideas, especially when they are fairly new to a role or where senior leaders are present.
I’m always interested in listening to what others have to say. Curiosity is something I respect in people and also strive for myself. It’s good to be curious about the big picture, the expectation from senior management and the long-term objectives of the project you’re working on. Having a good idea is not enough – you have to want to ask questions and learn more.”
- “As a child, I dreamed of becoming a scientist or philosopher and I really wanted to work with people.”
- “I’m a big tea drinker – I enjoy green tea, Chinese tea and British tea.”
- “My friends would say I’m calm, insightful and independent. And I enjoy the process of solving problems – I find it satisfying.
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