Graduating with a degree in graphic design from a university in Pakistan, Asif worked locally before moving to Houston in 2013 to pursue a related Masters’ degree. When he took stock of his career, he realised there was more demand for developers across industries. “I decided to follow the market and switch up my skills, joining my first programming job with a civil engineering company in Houston. I’ve even worked as an app developer for the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council before I joined Shell in 2019.”

At the time, he says, he wasn’t surprised at Shell having a burgeoning software division. “I’ve worked at grassroots companies and even they had extensive IT needs. My wife was already working at Shell at the time and had told me all about the culture, the work flexibility and the perks that come with the job. When there was an opening, I did not need any convincing.”

When I joined, I had the drive to learn. My previous jobs only had me completing day-to-day tasks to keep existing systems running, and that bored me. At Shell, the challenge is refreshing. I don’t just come in and look at code, there’s something new for me to do every day.

Asif, Software Engineer

Asif is currently part of a project that is part of Shell’s compliance initiative linked with the Dodd-Frank Reform Act. Though it’s a project that began in 2013, the complexity of the requirements involved means that Asif is still in the thick of development. “It’s a high priority and high-risk project,” he confides. “Aside from this project, I’m working on a couple of other apps. It’s been a great learning curve for me, my team, and the company at large.”

Despite the incredibly narrow margin for error in his role, Asif says he’s having the time of his life. “When I joined, I had the drive to learn. My previous jobs only had me completing day-to-day tasks to keep existing systems running, and that bored me. At Shell, the challenge is refreshing. I don’t just come in and look at code, there’s something new for me to do every day.”

“Once I achieve a task I’ve set, there’s no better motivation than the respect I earn from my colleagues,” he beams.

When asked what he values most about working at Shell, Asif can’t emphasise enough how much he appreciates the flexible working hours. “The pay and benefits are great of course,” he laughs, “but the working environment, vacation time, and sick leaves all make this job so much easier to do. I was fine with working overtime when I was single. But ever since I’ve gotten married, all of that has changed. My wife is pregnant, and we have doctor’s appointments and scans and other things to attend to. People just understand that this is my personal life and it’s important too.”

Another thing about working at Shell is that I now have more time for vacations. I also have more free time and energy after work to upskill myself in other areas.

Asif, Software Engineer

So, what does Asif do with his spare time?

Apparently, watch a lot of video tutorials. “I’m building a home right now, so I’m really into it at the moment, watching video tutorials about construction and planning. The next project after that will be to better equip my home for security and networking. I’m currently also looking into a company that can set up faster Internet not just for me but my entire community.”

“Of course, another thing about working at Shell is that I now have more time for vacations. I also have more free time and energy after work to upskill myself in other areas.” Asif also spends plenty of time with his wife. “She also works at Shell, so we see each other around the office all the time. But, specifically, hybrid work is great because it lets me finish up the errands around the house while she’s still working.”

So what does the future hold for Asif?

He’s not sure, but he has plenty of ideas. “My career path has been fairly predictable so far, but who knows? I started as a software engineer, but maybe I’ll move into machine learning or automation projects next. After that, maybe I’ll set up a business of my own in the next 10 or 15 years. Perhaps it’ll be a small IT, or I could emulate so many people from my community here in Houston and have my own Shell gas station one day.”

Asif also has big plans for his family. “I want to spend more time with my family and with my kids. I want to travel, meet new people, and most of all explore my ancestors’ hometown in Gujarat,” he gushes. “I know my dad was a farmer there, but I know almost nothing else about him. We don’t even have a photo of him, though our old house and lands are still right where my family left them in Siddhpur.

 “I want to explore my roots, so I can one day tell my kids about their ancestors. Not just barebone details, but exactly what they were like.”

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