How to create your life’s work
Teresa Waddington, Natural Gas Liquids Plant Manager, Scotland, shares how she is creating her life’s work through a non-traditional career that empowers her to pursue what matters most.
Engineering is in Teresa’s DNA. Her parents and siblings were all engineers in oil and gas. So when it came time to choose a life direction, she decided to join the ranks of the underrepresented yet powerful cadre of female engineers.
When she began working at Shell, Teresa was met not only with a seat at the table, but also with the support and encouragement to step into roles where women have not traditionally been present. “I’ve been really impressed at how Shell has set the stage so that I am welcomed in to a team that is not used to having people like me in it yet,” she says. “Shell has made leadership positions accessible to people who are not represented, seeking and enabling exceptional talent in every form. This is a huge stepping stone in paving the way for future generations.”
Over the course of her 13-year career at Shell in Canada, Teresa has explored various facets of engineering, management, commercial and maintenance. As of July 2017, she and her family moved from Canada to Scotland, where she took on the role of Fife NGL Plant Manager. Attributing mentorship as a key contributor to her own success, Teresa shares her advice for building a fulfilling career.
Create Your Life’s Work
“I really believe we’re all delivering our life’s work in what we do with our career, our community and our family,” Teresa says. And working at Shell has afforded her the opportunity to support what matters to her, whether encouraging her family to pursue their passions or serving on the board of a social change agency. Her career has helped her create her life’s work in several ways: allowing her to contribute “to the betterment of other people’s lives through accessible energy” while granting her “access to a non-traditional career path so that [she] can demonstrate to [her] sons and daughter, and [her] community, more of the choices available to them.”
Know Who You Are and Where You Want to Go
Teresa entered the workforce with a strong sense of self and vision for her future. To this day, her number one piece of advice for applicants is to have a clear understanding of who they are and an idea of the role Shell could play in getting them there. This is while fully embracing the fact that our direction and desires of the future change as we grow – know why you want what you want, now, and don’t worry if it changes later. “Shell has a remarkable ability to provide opportunities to develop, to grow, and to really put people into situations where they quickly have to figure out and use the full scope of their intellect, creativity and abilities.”
See Past What Currently Exists
Creativity has a powerful role to play in the workplace, especially in the science and leadership positions Teresa has filled throughout her career. At Shell, “what we’re really looking at is creating something that’s never existed before.” And in order to do that, she says, “you really need to employ people who are remarkably innovative and can see past what currently exists. The opportunity to work with intelligent, motivated, innovative people is inspiring.”
Find Your People
Whether developing a strong network of mentors, or paving the way for others to follow, Teresa supports a people-centric approach to professional development. And Shell is the same way. “It is unbelievable to me in a company this size, how much each person matters. Through all my years with Shell, there’s very much a family environment. At the end of the day, this is just your group of people.” It is this community that will help you realize the fulfilling career you want to build, and support you in making decisions that are best for you. “Because the end goal is happiness, it’s not really anything else. And I find that critically important.”
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