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Transition to Fort McMurray
Shell Canada’s Teresa Storch is an Engineer-In-Training at Shell Albian Sands’ Muskeg River Mine. We wanted to find out what motivated Teresa; originally from Hanna, Alberta; to accept an offer with Shell and re-locate to Fort McMurray.
What was it about Shell that appealed to you?
Shell as a company offers a huge variety of opportunities – at site, in Canada, and around the world.
Shell offers an extensive training program for new graduates and focuses on developing the industry’s best performers.
I was hired through a Shell Recruitment Day (SRD) and when I first read about the process and how involved it was, I was amazed. I figured that if a company was going to spend that much time and effort to make sure that I was a good fit for them, then that was a company where I wanted to work.
How did Shell help you transition to Fort McMurray? What type of assistance did they provide?
When I was considering the offer from Shell, Recruitment put me in contact with another engineer who was working in Fort McMurray. He answered a lot of my questions and put me at ease with the idea of moving there.
Shell’s relocation package was instrumental in our transition and with the purchase of our home.
What stood out about the Shell site that differed from your previous experiences? Did your views change after you started working at the site?
I had work experience at various industrial sites (coal power plant, refinery, aviation maintenance facility) prior to working for Shell. The Albian site has many similarities to any other industrial site but there are a lot of attributes that are unique to Heavy Oil. For instance, the processes are far more complicated than I had initially thought and the equipment is much larger.
How has working at a site location brought you valuable experience in your career? What skills have you developed from working at the site?
Albian moves at such a fast pace - it is like taking 3 years of experience and rolling it into one. Every day is different. I am constantly being exposed to new technical challenges.
Working at a site has really developed my capacity for quick decision making. I’ve learned to set priorities, be persistent, and take charge of my own career.
What type of schedule do you work? Is there flexibility? Does Shell offer Fly-In/Fly-Out?
I work Monday to Thursday, 10 hour days (4 days on and 3 days off). Albian offers an alternate schedule that is 7 on and 7 off, with 12 hour days. Schedules are dependent on your role and department. Albian has recently added “Fly In/Fly Out” which accommodates those who don’t live in Fort McMurray but still want the experience of working at an operating site.
What sort of mentorship or networking opportunities does Shell provide their employees?
Shell has a formal program to match individuals with mentors. I found a mentor quickly, separately from this program. My mentor has been invaluable in supporting my growth and aligning my career with my personal goals. In addition to my mentor, I’ve had support from many individuals on site who have provided me guidance on business priorities as well as the necessary tools to work through challenges. Shell also has a number of active employee networks. I am personally a member of two the Shell Women’s Network and the New Professionals Network.
What characteristics about Fort McMurray do you most enjoy?
In my 3 years in Fort McMurray, it has been very exciting to see the town grow and change. Every year there are new shops and services opening. I am personally really excited about a new yoga/fitness studio that just opened! Access to the outdoors is excellent. My husband and I enjoy hiking and fishing in the summer, and in the winter there are some great indoor recreational facilities. There is always something to do.