Hear from Samantha Roberson, Shell Energy Australia’s Head of Agile Portfolio and IT performance, on the importance of diversity, speaking up and challenging the status quo, and what a difference a little bit of recognition can make.
When I was a kid we got our first PC which only had Microsoft DOS on it (this was before graphical user interfaces and Windows 3.1). At the time, it cost my parents about three months’ pay. I managed to completely mess it up on the first day I was playing the game ‘Snake’ by changing settings and typing random commands, costing my parents another arm and leg to get it fixed. That day my mum said to me I should learn how to fix computers before I tried to break them. So, I did. When I finished school I landed a scholarship to study Information Technology, something that had always captivated my attention, ever since I broke my first PC.
Not in the traditional sense. I had my mum who had not finished high school and gave up her career in Nursing to have children. She always challenged me to be better and find fulfilment and learning in everything that I did, even if that was helping dad change the car oil. That created a drive in me to always take opportunities to experience new things, even if they weren’t typically feminine, so that I could make my own mind up about whether I liked them or not. She taught me that if someone said it couldn’t be done then it gave me the opportunity to prove them wrong. This has served me well over the years.
I was given the opportunity to manage the implementation team at a large food manufacturer to put into action a full SAP R/3 enterprise resource planning solution including managing our recipes for our products, pricing of our contracts, management of our call centre etc. many years ago. We completed our implementation with a team of just 40. The implementation spanned more than 9,000 staff, five factories and two distribution sites and was completed in 18 months. This was the fastest and most successful implementation in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at the time.
Data is the building block of all knowledge – it underpins everything we know. When combined with experience, it defines the world we live in. Understanding data and what it means is critical to helping us solve problems now and in the future. That is the Shell Energy playground – solving tomorrow’s problems, today, and making good decisions today based on data to energise tomorrow.
It is critically important to have a large set of diversity in all roles, women included. I think women find it difficult to share their achievements openly and seek recognition for a job well done as they are afraid others around them will think they are bragging. This unfortunately means we tend to see less about the achievements of women. This needs to change so young girls believe that they can be anything, not just what they are told they can be.
Our Digital and Technology Solutions team is one big melting pot working together, where we support each other and have fun doing it. I am fortunate that as part of my role I manage our Women in STEM Undergraduate Scholarship Program, our Digital Cadets for Women in IT Program, our new Female Software Engineering Intern Program, and have the support to expand our diversity programs further in future. I mentor a variety of people within and outside of our business on what it means to be successful in IT.
When it comes to diversity it’s all about creating a safe space and removing barriers, which can look different every day. Being willing to listen, acting as a champion of change, and living the value of diversity when identifying and nurturing talent is critical to creating opportunities.
Further information about the 2023 Women in Digital awards can be found here: https://womenindigital.org/women-in-digital-awards/nominate/
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