My role in a nutshell

I develop and maintain the business cases for new investment projects and look after the hydrocarbon portfolio for Shell in the East Coast of Australia. I work with my team to appraise growth opportunities and projects, optimise the operating assets, while developing associated greenhouse gas and energy management plans.

Katie Whittle

Finding the flow

When we pursue a new opportunity, we adopt a consistent decision-based framework and workflow. This involves asking key questions and utilising standard processes to be both effective and efficient.

Breakthroughs and roadblocks

I commit time to understanding what my team is undertaking, where they are moving forward, or what might be at a standstill. If there’s a roadblock, I look at where I or others may play a role in helping to resolve it.

Enquiring, listening and confirming

By spending time with my team and asking questions about their activities, they share information and what help has been sought, but also their key concerns and potential risks. If appropriate, I support their action plans or encourage them to seek additional help.

One ‘typical day’ a month

This day is for conducting business unit performance reviews. Together with the leadership team, we look at the overall asset performance and component metrics, like safety, financials, production and organisational health.

Getting my start

During my studies, I was sponsored by another company with a secure job to go to. However, following attendance at a Shell Christmas business course, an opportunity presented itself in the Graduate Program.

The thing that appealed to me was the chance to be a part of the Shell international workforce. I was also inspired by the people I met as part of the interview process. I could really see parts of myself in those senior leaders; there was humility, the recognition that Shell doesn’t always get things right.

The combination of these factors was why I really wanted to work at Shell and accepted the job offer.

Shell in 4 words:

World-class, Competitive, Responsible, Transitional

Why a career in STEM?

If I look back, there was a lot of opportunity in my school to explore science and technology, but also what that meant in terms of career choices and as a woman.

I was also just drawn to science and maths because I enjoy problem solving and challenges. I’ve found that in these areas, there is always something new you can learn.

The final thing that drew me to a career in STEM was that I like outcomes. I really wanted to make a difference, change things, make things better, and I knew that I could do this in a career focused on outcomes.

I’m most proud of…

workwise, it’s the recent delivery of complex opportunity. In my personal life, it’s my daughters. Not just their achievements, but their characters; who they choose to be.

I’d tell my younger self…

not to always look for the next opportunity, but to seek the remaining opportunities where you are.

In the future I’ll be…

adding value in whatever work I do and enjoying it.

I see opportunities in…

the energy transition in Australia. We have the ingredients and potential to be a real world-leader, particularly towards a low carbon future.

Shell and my development

  • The Graduate Program was a fantastic opportunity and the project I worked on was world-class. You’re meant to move around in different roles, but I made the argument to let me see the whole project through, which ended up being very rewarding.
  • After taking a career break when my two daughters were young, I established a parenting support network. Later, while on secondment, I established two mentoring circles, aimed at promoting early and senior career development for women, with mixed gender participation.
  • The Diversity & Inclusion Plan is brilliant at educating and engaging employees on the need to improve gender representation and to ensure that leaders are equipped to deal with issues affecting employees in the workplace.
  • I’m inspired by leaders like Hilary Mercer, the VP of Pennsylvania Chemicals. She provided me the growing room and a safety net early on in my career.

“Having access to the diversity of roles and programs across the business have been excellent, as well as the coaching, mentoring and sponsorship from leaders.”

What would you say to anyone considering a career at Shell?

If you are considering applying to Shell, do it!

If you have some doubts, go and ask. There are always people that are available and are more than willing to spend time with you. They are all very generous with their time, so use the opportunity. 

What is making you think differently right now?

Climate Change – The facts. It’s a documentary with David Attenborough which goes into the average individual carbon footprint and how to reduce your impacts. As a family, we’ve made a commitment to change some habits as a result.