Joanna Wong – Process Technical Safety Engineer
Joanna Wong, a Petroleum Engineering graduate from Curtin University of Technology, joined Shell’s Graduate Programme in 2018 as a Process Technical Safety Engineer. She takes us through what the beginning of her career at Shell was like.
The graduate programme for my skill pool 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, and I was attracted by the opportunity to travel.
Relocation and its perks
Relocating from Perth to Brisbane was a great 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, compressor facilities, and the large LNG plant on Curtis Island. Being able to go out to these sites, work with my colleagues, and be involved in the groundwork, really sets the foundation for a comprehensive understanding of the business and for me to become a subject matter expert.
An unforgettable experience to start your career
I had a really fulfilling experience when I spent two weeks on our LNG facility on Curtis Island when they were undergoing a shutdown. Shutdowns are very busy periods where the number of people on site and the amount of activity is greatly increased, 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 shutdown, giving me a good overview of what was being done and the things that were changing. Being involved in incident investigations meant I got to sit in on workshops and go through root cause analyses and complete risk assessments. It was especially valuable being able to talk to the leaders when they did their leadership walk downs.
The whole two weeks was an incredible experience for me, and I learnt so much from the many different aspects of the whole shutdown.
“Every day was new and exciting, it was actually like a personal accelerated learning programme. I got involved in almost every part of the shutdown, giving me a good overview of what was being done and the things that were changing.”
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 regarding 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 Curtis Island LNG facility. During the two weeks there, we put a big focus on safety rather than a schedule-driven shutdown. 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 on how they 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.