With a degree in mechanical engineering, an MBA and 14 years’ experience in sourcing and procurement in multinational companies, Lydia Qin fit perfectly into Shell when she joined the company four years ago.

There are several things about working for Shell that make her enthusiastic. “After almost 10 years of working for American companies, I like the exposure to different cultures that comes with working for Shell, a European company. Shell is known for its customer care and it also provides a good platform for people’s development. I also like that heavy equipment and big machinery are part of our work – it reminds me of my mechanical engineering background. Plus, the office is closer to my home which makes my life a lot easier,” she says.

She’s currently responsible for the China Sourcing Office (CSO) in Shanghai and Beijing. “I am proud to work here and exposure to new, challenging things is never-ending. Being a strategic focus in CP, China Sourcing has contributed value in terms of cost, delivery, and supply options without compromising on quality. Shell is the first energy company I’ve worked for and there are excellent programmes supporting women – it’s encouraging to know that we’re all equally valued here.

“When I first joined, the CSO team was still at the development stage. Four years on, I’m happy that we’ve managed to build a stronger team and build up our credibility. We’ve developed nearly 20 EFA suppliers in China, covering a wide range of supply from material and equipment to fabrication and services. The utilisation rate of these suppliers is steadily increasing. We have got positive feedback from various projects, which is good for the team and suppliers. It’s been a journey – there are 14 of us and we work well together,” she shares.

“We’ve all learned to prioritise our work and make use of the flexible working policy when we have personal matters to attend to. I have a few young mothers in my team – I often see what a big difference flexible working makes to their lives,” she says.

"It’s important to plan well and ask for help when needed"

In terms of her own work-life balance, she thinks it’s important to plan well and ask for help when needed. “My husband is only home on weekends but thankfully my mother stays with us and helps take care of my daughter when I have to travel for business. We have certain family rules, ensuring we spend as much time together as we possibly can.

For example, one day every weekend belongs to my 11-year-old daughter, Melissa. She knows that all of my time on that day will be spent with her. We often go hiking or play badminton. For me, it’s more about quality time rather than quantity,” she explains.

For Lydia, there are many reasons why Shell stands out from other companies but the most important factor is the great people. “Shell really hires good people. I can always learn from my colleagues. They are all open to sharing. When I started working here, I was given a “buddy” to help me settle into the company quickly. We have become good friends,” she says.

She thinks coaching and mentoring are important too. “I currently mentor two people. While I give suggestions on their career development and problem solving, I also have an opportunity to gain understanding of other businesses and functions. Plus, it’s good to share your vision and test it with others – getting a different perspective can help you be more proactive in achieving your target.

“Vision and curiosity are two qualities I really value in others and strive for myself. I love learning and trying something new. Having a vision inspires me to keep improving myself and developing people. My advice to other women would be to focus on delivering a high-quality job every day. In order to do your work well, you need to reach out, engage with people, ask questions and produce ideas.

Communicate well and keep an open mind to the input from others in order to capture the value of what they are saying. Don’t just run with a task in order to finish it quickly – spend time on planning and thinking before jumping into the work,” she says.

Quick quotes

  • “I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes I can push myself too hard and I have realised that if I get the basics done well, I can move forward instead of obsessing about getting every little thing done perfectly.”
  • “The internet is incredible. I enjoy online shopping – it is convenient, especially when I want to buy something in bulk. It saves you a lot of time that would have been spent in shopping malls as well as the cost of transport. I love that you get free delivery with a minimum order amount. ”

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