With a Shell career that spans 15 years and two continents, Roxana Davis, General Manager Integrated Gas Hydrocarbon Management, shares her advice for building a dynamic, international career and explains how her own career path has been characterized by a desire to build a growing portfolio of skills, and to keep the element of challenge ever present.
Throughout her career, Roxana has never shied away from taking career risks. With a good role in Shell’s Canadian Downstream office, a three-year-old at home and already making steady progress up the company ladder, she decided to make the move from downstream to heavy oil. Not only did it involve a move across the country, but a cultural and professional side step, too. In the expanse of Canada, changing cities is like changing countries. Roxana says "looking back it wasn’t that big, but at the time it felt like climbing Mount Everest."
Be agile in making decisions; don’t be afraid to take career decision risks, that is how you grow
Roxana says of the move: “I was appointed as the business manager for a mega-site (the Scotford Upgrader) but at the time I knew nothing about working on a site and nothing about safety in the field. Of course, there were people who looked at me and thought: ‘Who is this woman from head office, and why is she coming here? She doesn’t even know what we do here’.”
But it’s moves like this and the challenges they bring that have been instrumental in her career development and job satisfaction, from building on her skills and knowledge to expanding her professional network. “Looking back over everything I’ve done, I’ve learned so much,” she says. “It’s got me to where I am today.”
Roxana has always looked to stretch herself in order to add to her portfolio of skills. In 2013 she decided to take another challenge when she accepted a global portfolio role in Singapore.
Moving into integrated gas, Roxana again found herself with a sharp learning curve. However, because of the inclusive and supportive environment that she says is evident throughout Shell, the change of location and culture was made relatively stress free.
Maintaining a healthy network is key to career development and progression
Right from Roxana’s early career with Shell, she has been active in searching out those that could help her find her way around the organisation. “I’m a big fan and advocate of the Women’s Networks we have in Shell. I see them as a very valuable way of building a community.” In doing that you create a natural opportunity for members to meet, engage and create essential bonds. It becomes a little bit more organic.”
Testament to her belief in the power of Shell’s networks, and that it is important to give something back, Roxana started the Canadian Scotford Women’s Network that she was chair of for four years. And when in Singapore, she initiated the Upstream International Women’s Network.
“These networks are extremely important in creating a solid foundation and community where women in the organisation can develop, grow, feel supported and achieve their goals to support Shell’s business needs,” she says.
Set high but achievable goals; work towards them every day
Growing up with a working mother and grandmother, she learned from a young age that being a mother doesn’t mean you can’t also have a challenging career. It’s a message she’s keen to pass on to her own children, as well as to the professional generation now coming through.
“It’s about keeping your head up and being confident in what you have. Use your strengths - you are who you are because of these strengths, not because of your weaknesses.”
Looking to the future, Roxana is confident that she will find further avenues in which she can broaden her skills, challenge herself and learn new things. If her years of experience have taught her anything, however, it’s that you need to be able to put aside time for yourself, too.
“I know that sometimes you have to slow down to go faster. You have to stop and smell the flowers. It’s not all about the end goal but what you learn, who you meet, and about giving something back.”