Some might be born leaders, but others are made. Sue shared the precise moment she realised she could lead a team and go on to become an Asset Manager for Prelude: a world-first project for Shell.
My role in a nutshell
I work on Prelude, the world's largest floating liquefied natural gas platform. My role is around establishing the right culture and processes so we can safely and predictably operate the asset. I combine Shell’s 100+ years of experience with technology and diversity, so that we can tackle problems effectively and in fresh ways.
Clear roadmap to success
You have to find out what your ‘why’ is, have clear goals and the best resources on-hand. Recently, I was focusing on the short term, but now that Prelude has shipped its first cargo, I’m looking at the long term.
A structured week and a standard cadence
I have to look at the project holistically and ensure that the pace is correct. I establish that key interactions are happening at the right frequency and that they are effective.
Alignment across the board
I make sure that my leadership team are engaged with their staff, that people's goals are clear and that we have the right development plans and learning opportunities in place, so everyone is effective in their role and can grow into new roles.
Leading by example
The way I show up is amplified through the organisation. I don’t work long hours because I know that I don’t make good decisions when I am fatigued. Instead, I look at my daily energy management, so I’m in control and can get the best out of myself.
Getting my start
For so long, I didn’t have the confidence to think I had what it takes to be a leader. I always saw my husband's career as the lead. It wasn’t a bad thing. It was just how I felt.
Then- I worked with Mary Mujica. She was the first female site leader I’d come across. She was like me in many ways and that completely took me by surprise. It was a defining moment because it completely shifted my thinking. I had never really backed myself or considered a leadership role before that.
I’ve met many women who’ve had a similar experience. They are happy to take junior roles so their husbands can flourish. But I ask them to celebrate their value. So, if they want to work full time or job share, that doesn’t mean they can’t progress in their careers. It’s changing some of that thinking.
In that vein, one of my focuses right now is making my workplace an environment where diversity can truly thrive. In my experience, an environment where diversity thrives is a great environment for everyone.
Shell in 4 words
"Meritocratic, Nurturing, Demanding, Caring"
Why a career in STEM?
As a child, I wanted to be a vet and travel the world, but my high school chemistry teacher convinced me to take a STEM pathway and study chemical engineering.
When I joined Shell, 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. I saw Shell consisting of real people trying to solve real problems.
Today, I get to work with one of the most talented organisations in the world - the capability is inspiring. Now, it’s really about asking how do we unleash our potential.
I’m most proud of…
my relationship with my husband. Through all of the madness, we have managed to navigate it.
I’d tell my younger self…
have courage with humility.
In the future I’ll be…
Happy. I think that success is something we should all evaluate regularly, and I think happiness stems from knowing what success is for you at that point in time.
I see opportunities in…
advanced mathematics. If I was to go back to uni, that’s what I would study.
Shell and my development
- I didn’t take the conventional steps into a senior leadership role. However, Shell has a lot of structure around leadership development and opportunities for your role progression.
- The Structured Leadership Program gives you that toolkit to move into leadership roles, deal with difficult conversations, learn about expectation setting as well as technical development.
- The open resourcing system has also given me a lot of control. It helped me find the skills that I wanted to work towards.
- I’m inspired by people at different levels. Zoe, our Country Chair, is someone where I say, “I want to be like her.” Kenny Wang is a Workpack Coordinator for Prelude who comes at everything with such a different perspective.
“Shell has always respected me as the whole human that I am.”
What would you say to anyone considering a career at Shell?
Absolutely do it. I’ve been here a long time and I think it’s because Shell’s values match my own. The opportunity that Shell provides for personal growth is huge and the technical capability that we have globally is incredible. I don’t think there is a problem that we couldn’t solve.
What is making you think differently right now?
The Purple Patch Podcast with Matt Dixon - it’s all about unlocking your potential.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. It’s an awesome book about asking questions rather than telling.