How Human Development Creates Innovative Energy Solutions

How Human Development Creates Innovative Energy Solutions

By Daniel Shiosaki on Jan 20, 2020

We all know that a business is only as talented, insightful, and valuable as the people it employs. Though the energy industry is largely perceived as a technical business that is driven by the lastest petrochemical developments and modern refinery solutions, it’s the actual people who provide the real value. In fact, I would say the most innovative product or solution at Shell Catalysts & Technologies is its people.

Experienced People Are Powerful Solution Providers

Outside of the world-class products, technology, and services we sell, the people at Shell Catalysts & Technologies are what I admire the most about our company. The diverse experiences and work histories of our employees are integral to developing our industry-leading licensed technologies. Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ multifaceted employees serve as key solutions providers and play indispensable roles in crafting our technical and commercial business proposals. Our customers appreciate how personal expertise gained through myriad industry experiences at Shell can inspire highly customized solutions. This integration of human intellect, creativity, and practical experience helps us provide differentiated and integrated end-to-end solutions for our customers.

For example, when working with customers, Shell Catalysts & Technologies often brings in members from a variety of key viewpoints -- such as licensing, catalysts, and global lubricants -- to structure a comprehensive spectrum of innovative solutions. With this combination of various backgrounds, each person provides value and is able to expand the contributions from a single solution to a multipurpose array of benefits that offer greater value to all parties. These efforts leverage the cross-pollination of experiences, knowledge, and skill sets among the businesses and people involved. In fact, some licensing people could be former catalyst people, and vice versa. The same dynamic can exist within global lubricants, too.

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Professional growth also means understanding that learned principles -- in my case, from my undergrad training as a chemical engineer or later after obtaining my MBA -- are different from applied principles. We energy professionals go to school and spend years developing our knowledge, but this learning experience is far different than actually applying that information in the real world. After my various academic studies, I ended up relying heavily on the people who had years of experience applying principles and executing solutions. A business strategy, in theory, is great, but applying and executing that strategy is more difficult and nuanced. Having other professionals to talk with and to help provide input is priceless. Seasoned experts are able to help you avoid pitfalls because oftentimes they have confronted those same issues in their careers.

How Moving Creates Stability and Value

Energy is a hands-on industry where professional growth is advanced through real-world experiences. Personally, Shell Catalysts & Technologies has afforded me multiple opportunities to work in several diverse and challenging areas within energy. This spectrum of experiences has allowed me to foster my career growth in inspiring, calculated, and previously unimagined ways. Specifically, every two to three years I have taken on new challenges by moving to new positions -- from process engineering to technical services, to account management to, finally, a marketing manager role. Throughout this journey, Shell Catalysts & Technologies has provided me with the support and network needed to be successful and, most importantly, to learn new skills and expertise in each discipline.

Encouraging employees to learn various interrelated roles allows them to better understand our customers and the industry as a whole. Throughout my career, I have benefited and learned from subject matter experts and colleagues who have been in the business much longer than me, and who have enjoyed fulfilling, long-term careers at Shell. This has been a deliberate and personal choice for my career path. Other industry professionals, in contrast, may not focus very much on future career development but rather focus more on their current job performance and situation. Although I see the benefits of each, it's really important to focus on both. Inspiring employees to navigate beyond their current situations and careers is healthy and extremely beneficial to the individual, the business customer, and the entire company.

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Fostering Innovation Through Human Development

Shell Catalysts & Technologies is renowned for its wide range of technology, products, services, and solutions. Our comprehensive portfolio of offerings, however, is directly tied to our ability to offer differentiated, end-to-end, integrated solutions. Each of these solutions is, ultimately, the result of our engineers and energy professionals working together to achieve a shared goal and vision. At Shell Catalysts & Technologies, human development is where the art and science of innovation collide, as various perspectives, talents, and skills create intellectual friction by coming together to solve problems. Most of the people who work here came through impressive energy backgrounds in a range of fields including chemicals and refining and other production sites. The exchange and collision of various ideas is key to innovative breakthroughs.

Industry experience contributes to industry empathy. I believe one of the most important benefits we offer customers is the capacity to understand and relate to their unique circumstances within the context of complex trends that are impacting energy. Investing in human development allows employees to experience new situations and challenges to be solved; this means when we work directly with customers, we view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Working with most clients is a question-and-answer, value-driven process. Based on our discussions with customers, we then reach out to other professionals who have expertise in that particular area. Not only does this provide the client with added value, but it also gives everyone involved a chance to gain new and interesting insights into a relevant discipline. This sharing of experiences and expertise makes everyone more well-rounded industry experts.

Personally, what really excites me the most about new challenges is not knowing the answers at first. I think a sense of uncertainty appeals to engineers and many energy professionals because it drives their intellectual curiosity. Innovation is an adventure. In energy, there is always something new to learn and to accomplish. This goal-oriented sense of wonder is the spirit that drives improvements and modernization, which is key to creating a future-focused energy industry that works for everyone.


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