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Fuelling her career
Shell fuels scientist Johanne Smith talks about her role and how her interest in engineering and science began at secondary school.
Johanne Smith has been working in the Shell V-Power gasoline development programme since January 2013. She helps develop the next generation of Shell’s premium gasoline fuels to ensure that customers continue to buy innovative products at the forecourt. Part of her role is to feed customer requirements back in to the development programme and ensure that our fuels comply and fit with local conditions in all countries where we manufacture or sell Shell fuels.
She joined Shell in 1989 and has worked in various departments: from fuels analysis to research and development. Prior to her current role, Johanne spent the last six years launching Shell’s retail fuels around the world. Working with local teams to understand market conditions gave her exposure to different cultures.
“I enjoyed the interaction of a customer-facing role, working at the implementation end of the development funnel,” says Johanne. “I have always had a passion for science, especially chemistry, starting in school. I visited a refinery on a school visit, never thinking that years later I’d be working in the oil industry and helping to create fuels of the future.”
Exposure to the community interest company WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) when she was at secondary school really whetted Johanne’s appetite for a science-based job.
Johanne has seen more women join the sector during her career. Going forward she would be happy to mentor other women, who are new to the industry, and to show where a career in science can take you. She believes the Shell Women’s Network (SWN) is also a valuable framework to enable this mentoring to happen.
SWN UK is a volunteer organisation, which was established in 2001 to help women leverage their full personal and professional potential through self-development and business engagement. It seeks to maximise women’s contribution towards achieving Shell’s goals for growth, profitability and leadership.
“If we have more women role models in this sector being profiled that can only be good,” says Johanne. “At the end of the day, a strong team comprises a mix of both men and women.”