Highlighting diversity at Shell usually focuses on an individual. This is the story of two Shell employees who married and, later, started a family. During this time Shell worked with the couple, Alex and Joey, collaboratively to ensure they achieved the work-life balance they wanted each step of the way. Notably this included an opportunity for both to work overseas for Shell while staying together as a couple. Additionally, their personal experiences of diversity at Shell continue to benefit their current roles.

Lubricants Marketing Manager, Alex and Head of Convenience Retail, Alliances & Lubricants, Joey discussion

Alex Lim and Joey Liew’s story provides a unique case study of diversity at Shell. First as a married couple working at Shell then, after the birth of their son, as parents working at Shell.

Collaboratively, Alex and Joey worked together and with Shell to achieve the work/life balance that suited both their careers, their work, and their home lives.

Joey has worked for Shell for thirteen years. As an engineering graduate fresh from the University of Sheffield, she returned to her home country, Malaysia to commence her career with Shell.

“At the start my job was quite technical working for Shell’s Downstream operation. However I was increasingly given the opportunity to work across a number of different departments such as sales, marketing, brand and real estate. This really opened my eyes to the breadth and diversity of Shell’s global operations,” Joey said.

During these early years in Kuala Lumpur, Joey met and married Alex Lim who also worked at Shell.

With a Masters in engineering from Imperial College London, Alex had started at Shell in Malaysia several years before Joey joined. “Like Joey, I too started out in more technical jobs. Over time however, I was attracted to more business oriented roles at Shell: especially involving pricing and sales,” Alex said.

Lubricants Marketing Manager, Alex and Head of Convenience Retail, Alliances & Lubricants, Joey discussion

International posting together

In late 2010 both Alex and Joey were offered the opportunity to work with Shell overseas.

“This was a great opportunity for both of us and Shell ensured we could take up this offer while staying together,” said Joey. “That’s amazing. I don’t know of many other global companies that would go to that effort.”

They both gained the opportunity to move to Switzerland, where they lived and worked for two years.

Their time in Switzerland enabled them to develop their careers. Joey’s role was Marketing Coordinator for Global Licensees, “this was an exciting new global role for me,” she said. “I was responsible for developing and implementing business strategies and marketing plans for about 12 licensees in over 40 countries around the world. This gave me great exposure to how Shell operates in different markets,” Joey added.

“We both love the European lifestyle and took every opportunity to get about and enjoy it while we were there,” Alex said.

As for Alex, he gained the position of European Business Improvement Team Lead. “My new role focused on building operational excellence in Shell’s bitumen business. The goal, which we achieved, was to double productivity,” Alex said. “This was a challenging role; it taught me a lot about the need for continuous improvement as well as the organisational mindset to support that. In summary, a great experience.”

Returning home to Kuala Lumpur in late 2012, Alex and Joey re-joined their colleagues at Shell Malaysia; both had the opportunity to take up new roles. Alex is currently Lubricants Marketing Manager for Shell in Malaysia, Singapore & Macro Distributor East, where his responsibilities focused on driving the strategy of the lubricants business. Joey is Head of Convenience Retail, Alliances & Lubricants for Shell Malaysia. This covers a number of national responsibilities notably to deliver convenience retail sales through over 500 Select branded stores in Malaysia.

Work/life balance as a couple becomes a family

Some six months after they returned, Joey got the good news she was pregnant. Alex and Joey’s son is now just over two years old. “When our son was born I was still working in my global role at Shell. As I did not want to lose touch with my job and my friends, Shell was flexible about my working arrangement during this time and provided the option of working at home.

“My boss was really understanding about the importance of work-life balance for our new family,” Joey said.

“Alex and I believe we are a great example of Shell’s commitment to diversity. From the offer of international roles where we could stay together, to the flexible work arrangements during my pregnancy, birth of our son and his time as a baby - Shell has been so understanding and supportive,” Joey said.

“Through our own experiences working with Shell, both Alex and I have a much better understanding of how important respecting diversity and our individual differences is,” said Joey.

“For me personally, this experience helps my day job at Shell. I manage a team of some 20 people of different ages and backgrounds. From tech-savvy millennials to highly experienced long-termers; a mix of ethnicities; and, pleasingly, more women. I respect their diversity: their differences.

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