A World of Opportunities
Desmond Yeo was born and Singapore but has lived in Perth for over 20 years. He went to Trinity College, down the road from the Perth Shell Office. He then studied Engineering and Commerce (Managerial Accounting and Corporate Finance) at the University of Western Australia, and thereafter joined Shell as a Graduate Discipline Engineer after being an intern in over ten different companies in a wide variety of fields including IP, tax, audit, finance, consulting, marketing, engineering design and maintenance, environmental and asset management, in locations around Perth, Paraburdoo, and Barrow Island.
What made you want to join Shell?
The ability to keep developing through further education and an international placement at Shell interested me. When I joined, Shell offered an optional accredited Master’s programme. Although this is no longer offered, there are still many internal courses/programs available through the Shell Open University.
What does your current job involve?
I am a graduate mechanical engineer based in the NAM office in the Netherlands. NAM is an upstream joint venture with Exxon and operates on- and offshore in the Netherlands and the North Sea. I currently sit in the Engineering and Maintenance team for all the offshore assets. As a discipline engineer, I help operations ensure technical integrity on all our assets.
In Perth, I was a part of the Graduate Social Investment Committee and various non-profit Young Professional Boards such as the Engineers Australia’s Young Engineers WA committee and Australian Youth Energy Network. In the Netherlands I am currently Secretary of NAMbitious and Ambassador for the Shell Advanced Technical Program.
Tell us a bit about your experience on the grad programme that has been outside of the Perth office?
I have been working in the Netherlands since September 2012. This has been a great opportunity to develop myself professionally and personally. I have previously lived overseas on a student exchange programme, but I only recently realised just how many things we take for granted back home. Moving from a place of familiarity with a particular way of life to somewhere completely new and different is an exciting challenge and all part of the adventure. Imagine having to learn about things such as the garbage system, driving, taxes, supermarket systems, and even a new language in a short period of time, all on top of adapting to a workplace with different cultures, processes, and systems. It is a steep, but very rewarding learning curve and environment.
I also get the chance to have other international experiences that include training courses. Most courses are offered in the Netherlands, but for graduates who live overseas, they may travel to several training centres all around the globe. This is a good opportunity to experience the world.
What’s the most exciting thing you have been involved in so far?
One of the most exciting things for me so far at Shell was the opportunity to work on Prelude during my 6 months in Perth. Floating LNG (FLNG) is the new buzz word in the industry and there are many people wishing to join the Shell Australia team and have the opportunity to work on such an industry changing technology.
What’s the best thing about working for Shell?
It is easy to be accustomed to the enormous proportions and global interconnectedness of Shell. As a fresh graduate, you quickly find yourself part of multi-disciplinary and multi-national projects with colleges and universities from all around the world. Add this to the travel you get to do for training and assignments, as well as the simple fact that you are working on industry leading innovative projects, and you get the best experiences.
What is your proudest moment at Shell?
For me, I enjoy the non-technical work as much as I do the technical. My proudest moment in Shell was the opportunity to represent Shell at the Foundation for Young Australian (FYA) Worlds or Work (WOW) program. WOW is a week long program focused around coaching and motivating a diverse group of young Australians to succeed in whatever career paths they may choose. During the week the students participate in various workshops, conduct interviews and network with some of Perth’s industry leaders/organisations to help them answer the question they have been tasked with: “What does it take to succeed in work and life?”
It was a proud moment for me as I was able to make a difference to the next generation of Australians in a community I grew up in. All of this possible whilst working in a company where it was clear that Corporate Social Responsibility was strongly embedded in its culture; something not traditionally or often seen in large multinationals. I have since been to a number of other FYA WOW programs in the 6 months I was in Australia.
What kind of support have you had to achieve your career ambitions?
Within the organisation, each individual is free to pick a mentor and build their own networks. This, combined with your technical coach and line manager, help you discover, develop, and chase ambitions.
How do your managers or senior leaders inspire and guide you to help you achieve your potential?
Senior management is constantly engaging and relatively easily available to graduates. This shows a genuine interest in the development of the next generation of leaders not just within the company, but also within the industry.
How does Shell allow you to achieve a work-life balance?
Work-life balance is achieved through the opportunities to join and participate in various clubs and activities that are not directly related to your day-to-day job. These range from social investment initiatives and fundraising, to sporting events.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Ambitious, curious, easy-going