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Advice for the Next Generation: A Fireside Chat with the Women of Shell Polymers

As part of our commitment to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we’re celebrating the accomplishments and efforts of our talented female employees in a series of interviews.

By Shell Polymers on Mar 05, 2021

We sat down with several women in a variety of different roles and stages of their career throughout Shell Polymers. We asked them to share their personal experiences to encourage and advise future generations of women in the plastics industry.

These inspirational women include:

  • Kim McPhillips, Regional Sales Manager
  • Tasha Thompson, I.T. Logistics Lead
  • Brandi Mitchell, Analytical Chemist
  • Adriana Velasquez, Senior Technical Service Engineer | Rotomolding
  • Georgia Craven, Procurement Manager
  • Tobenna Emecheta, Team Lead Instrument & Analyzer
  • Komal Balakrishnan, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing & Technology

Looking back on your career, what advice would you give your younger self?

Kim: Relax. Things always happen for a reason. Be patient. You will end up where you need to be, and things will work out the way they’re supposed to. What you’re going through with struggles and indecisiveness is normal. Live in the moment and understand that you’ll get there.

Tasha: I’d tell myself it’s OK to disagree, but leave it at the table. Just let it go. It’s something I still strive to continue to improve at everyday. You don’t want ill feelings from a disagreement to spill over into everyday interactions with co-workers. At Shell Polymers, we are passionate about the integrity of our work and sometimes that passion becomes an outward reflection of how much we care. If you’re right, and you know you’re right, fight for that. However amicably disagree, so that it doesn’t impact the success of achieving the end goal.

Get to Know Tasha Thompson, Logistics I.T. Lead

Adriana: I would have told myself to take more risks. and I would be a much tougher negotiator. At the beginning of my career, I wanted to have all the answers before making a decision. Now I know that I can make decisions without having all the answers and that everything is negotiable. Things will work themselves out, so I don’t need to stress over things I can’t control.

Brandi: I would tell myself to speak up more and know that my opinion does matter. When I was the only woman in a room, it was intimidating to speak up, especially with the fear that it may get pushed aside or no one would listen to me. When that happens a couple of times, it’s easy to get discouraged and not speak up at all. I’ve had times in my career where I wanted to speak up, and I didn’t. Looking back, I think it could have made a difference if I had spoken up.

Get to Know Brandi Mitchell, Analytical Chemist

“I’ve had times in my career where I wanted to speak up, and I didn’t. Looking back, I think it could have made a difference if I had spoken up.”

Brandi Mitchell, Analytical Chemist

Tobenna: Have a mentor. It wasn’t typical when I started, but it is now. Create a roadmap for your career and build up the skills you need to thrive outside your immediate space with your mentor. Additionally, find someone who is willing to advocate and speak up for you.

Explore how Shell Polymers is Supporting STEM Education Programs in Beaver County

Georgia: I would tell my younger self to be bolder and believe in my capabilities more. Don’t be afraid to take more risks. I would also say the same to the new generation as well. The state of change we’ll see in this industry and our society will depend on the next generation being bold and innovative.

Get to Know Georgia Craven, Procurement Manager

Komal: Take more risks, and don’t doubt yourself so much. Most importantly, don’t let other people’s perceptions of you hold you back. Chart your own path and push ahead. Define your own story, know your worth, and be bold enough to ask for it.

“Define your own story, know your worth, and be bold enough to ask for it.”

Komal Balakrishnan, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing & Technology

What would you say to encourage the next generation?

Kim: When someone mistreats you, consider that experience a gift. It’s a gift because it gives you a blueprint of how not to be.

Get to Know Kim McPhillips, Regional Sales Manager

Tasha: Enjoy the moment. Especially as a young woman, you’re career-driven and want to succeed, but it’s easy to get lost in that drive and miss big life moments if you’re too focused on work. No one ever says they wished they would have worked more. Appreciate your family time and the people that love you. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Be mindful of your past and those you interact with. Learn from the bad moments and the great moments alike.

Adriana: Have an open mind and always look for what the learning is in every experience, because whether good or bad, there are always learnings in every experience.

Get to Know Adriana Velasquez, Senior Technical Service Engineer | Non-Pressure Pipe & Rotomolding

Also, it is important to have your own board of directors, with mentors in your same line of work, somewhere else in the company and outside of the company. Whether it's how to solve technical issues, how to become a better team member, a better manager or support making critical career defining decisions, my mentors and sponsors have always been instrumental.

Brandi: Be open to any opportunity that comes up. That’s how you advance in your career. So many times, I’ve said, “I don’t want to be in charge of a team or be a part of X project,” but then I fell into that project or the team lead, and it ended up being a great experience that helped me grow as a professional and as a person. If someone is giving you an opportunity, then they believe that you can do it, so believe in yourself as well.

Georgia: Mentors and sponsors are crucial. Although I didn’t have one early on in my career, I do now and they’re priceless. Whether formal or informal, it’s critical to have someone who understands where you’ve been to talk to and get advice. It’s also helpful if they’re not in your area of expertise. Having that honesty and diversity of thought within your circle is critical to personal and professional growth.

“Having honesty and diversity of thought within your circle is critical to personal and professional growth.”

Georgia Craven, Procurement Manager

Tobenna: I would echo what a lot of my colleagues have said about having a mentor. Work closely with someone you respect to create a roadmap for your growth and build up the skills to thrive and meet those goals.

Get to Know Tobenna Emecheta, Team Lead Instrument and Analyzer

Komal: Control the voice in your head and know you have value. I have often caught myself having self-limiting thoughts and saying things to myself I would never say to someone else. So, be nicer to yourself and know that you have value. Also, I struggled with the idea of finding a mentor because i didn't want to seem like i was using someone, but then I realized that I also have something to offer the other person. So don’t be afraid to leverage a mentor or network because you and your experiences help them just as much as they help you.

Get to Know Komal Balakrishnan, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing & Technology

Hear Their Personal Stories

Go more in-depth into the women of Shell Polymers’ inspirational stories.

Be Inspired