Harvonne Yap, General Manager, Products Freight
If a role needs 10 skills and you have all 10, you should not be applying for the job as you won’t be stretching yourself.
"When I joined the liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading team, I was the only female trader and had been selected for the role ahead of a number of existing team members. My new role posed various challenges for me – it was a new subject matter and steep learning curve. When I joined the team in 2010, it didn’t help that I encountered a rather hostile reception from a few of my male colleagues. Remarks such as only getting the role because I was a woman and Asian thus ticking a few boxes for management’ or that I was a ‘tourist’ with no in-depth subject matter expertise stung. But such comments only served to push me to try harder and prove to management that I was the right choice. In the end, I had a successful 10 years in LNG, including promotions. So, I think the point has long since been proven.
The General Manager of that business deserves a great deal of credit because, by the time I left, that team was about 50% women and had transitioned to a much more inclusive culture.
Now, as a manager myself, I also try to be a role model or mentor for people in my team, both men and women. I try to meet them regularly, share my career experiences and help them talk through any problems they may be facing. I challenge them to view problems from multiple perspectives and try to equip them to solve their challenges for themselves. Beyond the more formal mentorships, I keep an open-door policy and make time where possible for anyone who approaches me for advice, or just a friendly chat.
If there is one thing, I have found myself raising repeatedly with women during such interactions, it’s that they should have the confidence to go after jobs and promotions where they don’t meet all the requirements. If a role needs 10 skills and you have all 10, you should not be applying for the job as you won’t be stretching yourself. Many women focus on the few skills they don’t have and so don’t apply, rather than applying, highlighting the skills they do have, and presenting the skills they don’t have as learning opportunities. I would love to see more women take up the challenge as this unnecessarily slows down their career progression otherwise.
On reflection, I have been quite lucky in my career. I have met a number of people who saw abilities in me that went beyond the role I was holding at the time and gave me the opportunities to take-on challenges that were either stretching, with no precedent, or where I didn’t have direct relevant experience. I achieved this in part by helping them understand my skills better through presenting them in a transferable manner. Shell has in return, provided multiple opportunities for me to work in multiple functions, geographies and businesses."
"I love learning new things and solving complex challenges, and my career at Shell has enabled me to do that. But the most rewarding part of my role as manager is coaching and developing people to bring out the best in everyone.”
Catherine Hall is the new GM Trading and Supply, Business Integration and Assurance, based in the UK
One of the benefits of working within an organisation as diverse as Shell is that it offers varied and rich career paths. Catherine Hall is GM Trading & Supply, Business Integration and Assurance (BIA), a role in which she is responsible for enabling the successful and sustainable integration of transformation, risk and assurance into Trading and Supply. Catherine navigated into this role from previous commercial roles within the shipping of oil, chemicals, and LNG (Liquified Natural Gas). As she progressed, she identified the vital importance of the processes and controls we all follow to the way we make money, rather than being a distraction from commercial activity. “Shell Trading & Supply has made it a priority to invest in our risk and assurance practices to give us a secure platform from which to accelerate the endurable growth of our business,” she explains.
Catherine’s career progression has enabled her to fulfil commercial, strategy, risk management and change roles, which now come together to deliver on the strategic direction of Trading & Supply.
In many ways the key skills Catherine brings into her integration role have parallels with what is important for the inclusion agenda: “integration, and inclusion, are based on the premise that when two or more parts come together, we all benefit,” Catherine explains, “in my day job I come to each part of my accountability, each business dilemma, with a curiosity – keen to learn from others’ experience and have empathy for others’ perspectives, bringing this together for the best outcome.” Catherine believes this, too, is the power of having a diverse organisation and leadership team.
Karrie Trauth is the newly appointed SVP for Shipping and Maritime in Trading and Supply, based in the UK.
"With decarbonisation becoming a bigger priority throughout the shipping and maritime sector, Karrie is using her broad industry experience and influence to drive the conversation and activities related to decarbonisation’ “Due to the scale of the challenge, solutions will need to include cleaner fuels, regulation, government action and societal shifts. By helping the industry improve safety and reach their decarbonisation targets, I hope to leave this world in a better shape for the next generation,” Karrie says.
Karrie is also using her leadership role to support diversity and inclusion in Shell’s Shipping and Maritime organisation. “I have always done the non-traditional jobs and have always been the first woman to do a role,” Karrie says, adding that there aren’t enough role models in senior technical and leadership positions. “I have long thought that hiring managers and senior leaders need to consciously seek out diverse candidates for leadership roles — so that those beginning their careers can see someone who ‘looks like me’.”
Karrie also highlights the need for more opportunities for sponsorship and mentorship for women.
Karrie also plays an important role in taking the lead on LGBT+ advocacy. Before joining Shell, Karrie spent most of her career in the closet. Her life changed when she applied for a position at Shell and had her first meeting with Grahaeme Henderson, VP for Shell’s Shipping and Maritime Department. She worked up the courage to tell him that she had heard about the role through her female partner and was pleasantly surprised when ‘Grahaeme didn’t even blink’. That experience not only confirmed that Shell was an inclusive company but that this value was lived out by senior leadership as well.
In her role, Karrie feels it’s her duty as a leader to continue to create an environment where people feel confident being who they really are.
“This belief has motivated me, within my scope of leadership, to act as a role model to other employees who may still feel hesitant about coming out. I often take the opportunity to be more vocal than I’m perhaps comfortable with, because someone might need to hear that message today – that it’s okay to be yourself and that we will support you.”