Meet Kristina Loi

 

Tell us about your career path and your current role?

After completing a Bachelors of Chemical Engineering and Business Administration studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), I began working in the oil and gas industry on the West Coast. I mainly worked in technical roles, including petroleum engineering on the North West Shelf (NWS), with some business analysis roles in between. I had several offshore stints as a reservoir engineer, which was quite interesting, fun and character-building, as I was often the only female on a rig of 100 men.

After almost seven years, I moved to the mining industry, however, I missed the oil and gas industry, so I made the switch back and started working at a small coal seam gas company in a variety of engineering roles.

I cut my teeth in coal seam gas for about 18 months, and then was provided an opportunity to join Shell’s QGC business. I joined as a production engineer and was later promoted to various management roles over 13 years, mainly within the technical functions.

About two years ago, my boss mentioned an exciting new role at Shell Energy. I was at a juncture in my career, trying to decide whether to stay technical or go commercial. After a chat with the team, I chose commercial, as it was a great opportunity to learn about a different part of the business.

My team provides a broad range of support services to the trading and supply function at Shell Energy Australia and comprises trading services, commercial operations and forecasting and we cover all four commercial desks within Trading and Supply . No two days are ever the same and joining the team was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Did you have a role model or mentor who supported you when you first started your career?

I have had quite a few mentors. They were more informal, and some were my bosses at the time, but once I had left their team, they continued to mentor me.

One taught me the importance of working hard at whatever opportunity comes across your desk, whether it directly aligns with your deliverables or not as everything is an opportunity to learn. Another mentor taught me to not be afraid of change as change is a part of life. One of the most important things my mentors taught me, was that it’s not what you know and it’s not what you do – it’s how you make people feel. That is what they will remember, over and above everything else.

What is it like to work here and how would you describe our culture?

Openly and honestly, it truly is a great place to work. From the outset, my team embraced me by making me feel welcome and respected. My manager also acknowledged that I needed support as I did not come from the Trading function, and that was a brilliant introduction into a new and daunting role.

Since then, a good team has grown into a great team. Of course, it has had it challenges, but everyone helps each other because we all want the same goal at the end of the day.

What impact have you made or hope to make in your role?

I want to be remembered as a trustworthy leader, someone who has strong morals and values, and someone who could protect and develop them to their greatest potential. That’s what I aspire to be. I’m still working on it, but I believe one day I’ll get there.

Over your career is there an achievement or moment you’re most proud of?

When I was working at QGC, I was a part of the first-ever coal seam gas to LNG development . It was a monumental and historic moment that very few people in this world will get to experience.

There was a significant amount of activity involved in the project to bring it to life. It was a culmination of years of hard work, and it was so satisfying when we delivered the first LNG train. Shell Australia has recently had its 1000th cargo and reflecting on all the work from initial approvals to where we are today, it’s a huge achievement.

I also take pride in my ability to lead a team that is outside of my technical expertise, and I hope that I am leading them well. Ultimately, I want my team to be proud of me.

In a fast-paced industry that’s ever changing, how do you balance learning and development with your workload and your team’s needs?

There are two different ways of learning: learning for a purpose and learning for general knowledge. At Shell Energy, we take a 70/20/10 approach – 70% of learning is on the job, 20% is special projects and other activities, and 10% is formal learning. That’s how I balance my own learning and that of my team’s with purpose in this fast-paced industry with heavy workloads.

A really important element of learning and development is knowing where the business is going and being able to convey that strategy to different levels of the team. This will then ensure that the team is learning and developing in line with our business strategy.

What is your take on our approach to flexible working and how does it support you?

It’s great to have flexibility as a working mum. As an example, my son has swimming lessons every Wednesday afternoon, so on Wednesdays, I leave early and take him, and my boss is fully supportive.

I know the business supports me in my role as a mum and a manager. The recognition that our lives shift between our personal and professional circles is so important, and Shell Energy gives us the flexibility for that shift, which is greatly appreciated.

Any advice for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Change is not something to be afraid of. Many people, especially young graduates, think their career and life depend on following their career plan exactly. I have never done that. I’ve been more fluid and switched between technical and commercial roles, embracing change has advanced my career. If you want to succeed in your career, you must do the core parts of your job very well, but also remember the importance of networking and being authentic. If you show genuine interest in what people do and who they are, you can open doors for yourself.

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