From Shell facilities in Africa and The Netherlands, to sailing small boats across vast oceans, Teri Mandemaker has literally been around the world to get to her current role as Organizational Effectiveness and Learning manager for the Puget Sound Refinery.
At a remote facility in Gabon, she managed an entire camp that was only accessible by company plane. Later, she took a break from Shell to join the Blue Water Rally, sailing boats as small as 34 feet around the world. She was among 18 out of 30 boats that finished the event.
Now Teri is responsible for helping the refinery’s people better together by creating a learning culture.
“The learning is to promote a culture where people value learning and development,” Mandemaker says. ”They never graduate from school.”
Learning starts the day a new hire walks through the refinery gates and never stops.
“If you’re fresh out of Bellingham Technical College, you go through our training. And we offer continuing professional education here at the refinery, which has access to thousands of online courses as well as material for teaching face-to-face.”
As Mandemaker works to train the refinery’s workers, she’s constantly on the lookout for its future leaders.
“We very much support people coming up from the ranks,” Mandemaker says. “Shell is really good at giving you a chance to be whatever you want to be. It’s really up to you if you want to take advantage of that.”
In the two years that she’s been onsite at the Puget Sound Refinery, she has become active in the community, especially with the La Conner Rotary, where she helps organize popular local events such as the Smelt Derby and the ever popular “Moonlight and Margaritas” dinner and auction.
When she’s out among her neighbors, she sees how people value the refinery and its workers, especially their commitment to safety.
“Safety, which includes protecting our environment and our community, is always front and center,” Mandemaker says. “We value the community. We value life here. I think our community sees that.”