As we mark International Women’s Day, we reflect on the importance of equity and ensuring that everyone has what they need to succeed. We spoke with two Executive General Managers at Shell Energy Australia, Dee Garnsworthy and Alice Micenko, about their paths to leadership, their best advice, and why more women should consider a career in energy.
Dee started her leadership journey in project management, integrating the finance and operational functions of a newly acquired commercial property portfolio, before going on to lead teams.
At Shell Energy, Dee is responsible for delivering energy and decarbonisation solutions, including e-mobility to residential households and small businesses through Powershop, which was acquired by Shell in February 2022.
Dee said the energy sector was changing rapidly with the energy transition, opening new opportunities to learn and grow, as well as new challenges brought on by volatility and uncertainty.
“It’s super exciting as technology and innovation have created major shifts in the way we consume energy and the choices we have, especially in the last five years,” she said.
“This has given rise to a range of new business models and decarbonisation options including products like e-mobility and batteries, and services like virtual power plants. These new options have unlocked a range of opportunities that we can use to support our customers as they navigate both the energy transition and cost of living challenges.”
“The energy transition will have major social, political, technological, economic and environmental impacts. What other industry has all this going on at the same time? It gives rise to real, complex dilemmas that we have to solve.”
Having had a chance to reflect on her career, Dee has some lessons to share for young women starting out in the industry.
“When starting out, it’s about gaining diverse experience across different streams, segments or parts of the value chain as a solid foundation,” she said. “And find a mentor or role model who you can use as a sounding board”.
“Now that I’ve settled into my career the advice I’ve found to be particularly valuable is to be aware of how you show up in the room in terms of your presence and your contribution, spend time reflecting to learn and to back yourself.”
Dee said women who were considering a role in energy should reach out to Shell Energy.
“It’s a great place if you want to have an impact and initiate change —both from within and for our customers—through the energy transition.”
Alice studied environmental engineering and started her career in project management before progressing into people leadership.
At Shell Energy Alice oversees Corporate Services, which plays an important role in providing the organisation with tools, assistance and information to support business strategy and growth.
Alice said the Shell Energy strategy and ambition to help customers and society navigate the energy transition was hugely exciting.
“Being connected to the values and purpose of an organisation is very important to me,” she said.
Alice said one big change she has noticed over recent years is the number of men who are open about their family or personal commitments.
“It’s quite common today for a man to speak up and say that he can’t stay late for a meeting that’s overrunning because he has to pick up the kids or do something for an elderly parent,” she said.
“I always appreciate it when men do that because when I started my career it was typically only women who were open about those outside-of-work commitments.
“That put a lot of pressure on women. I’m glad it’s changing, that people feel more able to be open about their personal challenges, whatever those may be, and I’m really optimistic that with that approach, we’ll continue to see more and more movement towards an equitable society.”
Alice also reflected on how work-life balance has evolved over time.
“Although I prefer to operate with structure, I am learning to accept that in my current role balance is about flexing to meet priorities,” Alice said.
“Sometimes deadlines will mean I have a heavier work week, at other times my family needs to take priority.
“Everyone needs to set their own boundaries, and in general I find people are very willing to accommodate those boundaries if we communicate them properly.”
Alice said there were so many wonderful women in industry who lead authentically, with empathy and with a values driven approach who would make great role models for young people looking to start their careers.
“In late high school, I was invited to a summer science event in Canberra and it was a real eye opener for me in understanding how impactful a career in STEM could be. That’s how I ended up enrolling in environmental engineering,” she said.
“It is critically important for young girls and women to have this type of opportunity, along with mentoring and exposure to people in energy. It’s not a career path we tend to see in popular media so we need to find other ways to build awareness.”
When it comes to career advice, Alice said hers isn’t the most typical.
“We tend to focus our development efforts on improving ‘weaknesses’ but I’ve found it’s actually more valuable to invest time and effort into enhancing your strengths,” she said.
“Here at Shell Energy, we aim to help people develop their careers by making time to talk to them about what they would like to achieve, listening to what the barriers and challenges might be for them, and then jointly working on solutions.
“If you see any jobs at Shell Energy that suit your skillset, please apply! We have a wonderful, welcoming team and a lot of opportunity as we grow.”
7 December 2023
A Senior Credit Analyst working in our consumer team, Ryan appreciates Shell Energy’s culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous growth. Building a psychologically safe environment is of the utmost importance to him, so that his team is confident to be themselves.
26 October 2023
Learn more about what gas efficiency is, why it’s so important for Australian businesses, and what’s unique about Shell Energy’s approach in this interview with Duncan Cairnie
26 September 2023
Meet our Chief Information Officer (CIO), Shannon Henwood. Shannon discusses leadership, why it’s okay to fail, and the mindset that has guided him through life and his career.