Growing up in Egypt as one of three children, Marwa Al-Ansary enjoyed collecting unused old items from around her neighbourhood and repurposing them to make gifts for her family and friends. To her, it was the foundation of what she does today – inventing new uses for waste materials.
Initially, her parents didn’t agree with her dream of becoming an engineer. “I had other plans, though,” she says. “I knew they wanted me to become a doctor or a journalist, so I studied engineering in secret for two years. But when the truth finally came out, I explained my passion to my parents and they understood and surprisingly were very supportive afterwards. They were really proud when I received my PhD from the University of Cambridge.”
Marwa enjoyed the academic process, graduating with first class honours in Construction Engineering at the American University in Cairo. She holds master’s degrees in Construction Engineering and Environmental Science. She also completed her PhD in Geotechnical and Environmental Research at the University of Cambridge, where she also taught before joining Shell in 2007 as a research lead.
She appreciates the supportive culture in Shell. “It feels like a family. Working here, I get a lot of opportunities to travel and interact with different nationalities – it’s made me more sensitive to other cultures. A diverse workspace calls for a high level of tolerance and kindness – professionally and personally. A lot of people also work virtually, leading to a modern, dynamic workplace. The Shell environment allows me to connect with local expertise as well as work on cross-regional and international projects to gain knowledge, share ideas and ultimately move forward together.”
According to Marwa, Shell has always been attentive to employees’ needs and the flexible working policy is just one way in which they stay true to this value. “People work flexibly for all kinds of reasons – some have elderly relatives to look after or want more time at home with their kids. Thanks to the Shell working policy, people can work flexibly, virtually and part time, and this helps them maintain a better work-life balance.”