Taking the Career Path Less Traveled Makes All the Difference
Mar 08, 2016
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we spoke with a few of Shell’s female leaders across varying functions about their career paths, how they define success and what diversity and inclusion means to them.
Tricia Avila Moss
Senior IT Lead Innovation & TaCIT; Projects & Technology
Q: Why did you choose a career in IT?
A: I fell into IT accidentally while I was studying art and political science at the University of Houston. I signed up for a programming course after a conversation with a friend, and never looked back. The field leverages my artistic and logical/left brain side, and both skills have allowed me to see the bigger picture when it’s all too easy to hone in on the details and lose sight of the overall objective.
Q: Who do you admire?
A: I take a lot of inspiration from my father, who escaped from Cuba in 1961 after the Bay of Pigs Invasion and had to create an entirely new life and career for himself in the U.S. Because of him, I feel I can aspire to do anything and become anything. My father definitely showed me that success is how you define it – and for me it’s not about making a certain salary or having material possessions. It’s about making a difference and a positive impact.
Q: Why did you decide to join Shell nearly 18 years ago?
A: The company’s commitment to inclusion combined with the opportunities for women to thrive played a key role in my decision. Shell weaves diversity and inclusion into its fabric. It’s part of the culture here, and I feel like I’m in an environment where I can make mistakes, take strategic risks and grow as both a professional and as a person.
Through my various roles at Shell, I have a new appreciation for what it means to act inclusively. I constantly ask myself now, ‘Are we leaving someone out just because we don’t understand?’ I challenge myself to look at all angles and not ignore differing viewpoints simply because they’re not mine. Recognizing that everyone has something of value to bring to the table is what diversity and inclusion is all about.
Q: How do you measure success?
A: I’m referred to as ‘Superwoman’ by close friends and co-workers since I have four children – including a set of 9-year-old triplets – a demanding job, and numerous hobbies that I’m passionate about. That said, nothing ever lines up perfectly – and that’s OK.
I tell my kids that the secret to success is to always stay true to themselves, and I try to model that myself. No one else can define success for you, and you have to be happy with what you see in the mirror each morning – literally and figuratively. Above all, I truly believe that one person can make a difference. Trust your gut and follow your heart, and you can’t go wrong.
Join the conversation around International Women’s Day and #pledgeforparity
VP – HR for Deepwater
Q: Define success.
A: It is setting ourselves goals and exceeding them every time. It is about making choices, understanding how these and our priorities change throughout life and about being at peace with the choices we make at any point in time.
Q: What drives you?
A: I’m driven by being the best I can be at whatever I am doing at any point in time. I always aim to be my best self and my whole self – and ultimately improve the lives of everyone around me and make a positive impact every day. That’s a huge gift.
Q: How did your childhood impact your views on diversity and inclusion?
A: My parents played an influential role, and they exposed me to so many different places, cultures, viewpoints and beliefs from a very young age. I understood the value of diversity early on, and that stuck with me.
I love taking the unconventional path, and my parents supported me in that journey. The typical path was to stay in Greece – where I was born – but after a postgraduate degree from the London School of Economics, I began my career at Shell in the UK. It’s nearly 21 years and many countries and cultures later, and I still love what I do. I owe a lot to my parents who instilled great self-confidence and gave me the space to pursue my dreams, learn from my failures and keep exploring.
Q: What advice would you give young women who are about to launch their careers?
A: Be yourself, and don’t compromise who you are or who you want to be…live without regret, and enjoy the journey. If you aren’t having fun then move on. Stay curious, remain resilient and define your own perfection. Above all, support other women through the ups and downs that we all experience along the way.
VP – HR for Manufacturing
Q: Did you always want to work in HR?
A: No, I actually worked as a high school band director after college before I began my HR career at Home Depot. In that role, I sat side-by-side the general manager (we shared a tiny office and the same small desk), where I learned the importance of people in the delivery of business results.
Q: How has your education and music background impacted your current role?
A: As a band director, I learned very quickly that if kids didn’t feel like they were part of the group then they wouldn’t do anything for me. Teenagers have a range of emotions, and I knew that I wouldn’t succeed using a ‘command and control’ method. I had to find a way to connect with every student on his or her level. I’ve found that the same is true in leadership. In order to lead an HR team that delivers quality results, I have to figure out how to motivate each individual so they play their parts correctly – and then give them the space to do so.
Q: What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?
A: Diversity is about a whole host of things, including diversity of thought, experience, education, etc. I firmly believe organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion deliver greater value to the business and society through increased innovation. Therefore, we want people to feel comfortable sharing different viewpoints – even if they’re not shared by the majority.
Q: What words do you live by?
A: My favorite quote: "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride.’”
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