Solving puzzles, at home and in the office
A software engineer still very much at the start of her professional career, Kavitha works on Shell’s Retail business within the Mobility vertical of Shell’s software engineering team. With just over three years in the company, she talks about how Shell’s work culture has helped her grow as a professional and as a person.
I had no idea what an energy company might have to do with IT at the time. It wasn’t until I joined that I began to understand just how crucial technology is to Shell and how big a role technology plays in Shell businesses.
As a graduate of the Guindy College of Engineering in Chennai, Kavitha began her first job at a leading technology services and consulting company in 2016. It wasn’t until about two and a half years later that she applied for a role at Shell. “Everyone knew about Shell, of course; it’s a famous company,” she says. “I had no idea what an energy company might have to do with IT at the time. I was surprised to see another 60 to 100 capable candidates applying for software roles. That’s when I got the indication of how much room there was for me to grow. It wasn’t until I joined that I began to understand just how crucial technology is to Shell and how big a role technology plays in Shell businesses.”
Kavitha is currently working on a project used for business planning and remuneration management of Shell sites. Now well and truly settled in, she gushes about how much satisfaction working with a global company brings her. “The things we’re developing here in India are used in 20 to 30 countries. The pressure of those stakes can be high but to be able to interact with end users across the world is also great learning.” And though there were other participants on and off in this project, Kavitha says being the only one assigned to it full-time brings her an immense sense of ownership, and seeing the project through till the end a sense of pride and achievement.
In addition to the professional growth and learning, the Shell work culture has brought stability and peace to Kavitha’s personal life. With clearly defined work and home life, she has clear, well-defined personal time to pursue her passions and even casual hobbies. “I’ve never worked more than one week of overtime in three years, and that has also been a result of a backlog due to an unplanned leave I had to take for an emergency. If I sound unwell on calls, my seniors encourage me to take the day off rather than tough it out.”
“I got married some time after coming to Shell, but the clear demarcation of work and home life allows me to balance more efficiently. Even though I work an evening shift, I have plenty of time to carry out errands at home, have a peaceful dinner with my husband, and pursue my hobbies. I’ve taken to solving Sudoku puzzles and practising the piano in my spare time. I’ve even begun solving Rubik’s cubes lately, something I used to enjoy as a child. I’m practising my speed-solving skills and I’m down to two minutes. It’s far from a world record of course, but it’s so great that I even have the time and peace of mind to practice my skills at things that I enjoy.”
One of the things Kavitha says Shell’s work culture has made clear to her is how different it is from other organisations. According to her, her husband works far too much, sometimes even from 9 am to 11 pm. Having a work environment where her time is respected has changed and made her more aware of her own mental health. “I keep bringing up with my husband how him being overworked should not be a norm, and I use Shell as an example to communicate my point. In fact, it’s something I tell all of my friends when they complain about excessive office workloads.”
Every year I make goals to learn new technologies and applications. Wet stock management and analytics interest me, so I’m starting to learn more about them. I’m also constantly brushing up on my Python skills.
Keeping her work at the workplace, Kavitha says, not only gives her free time to relax but also upskill herself for diverse roles she’s interested in. “Every year I make goals to learn new technologies and applications. When we complete a certain number of years on a project we have the option to choose another project of our interest. Wet stock management and analytics interest me, so I’m starting to learn more about them. I’m also constantly brushing up on my Python skills.”
So, what does the future hold for Kavitha? “When I joined Shell I had no clue what would happen, I was just ready for anything. Since then, the changes in my career path have been exponential. I would prefer to stay in this sector and perhaps I could eventually become a solutions architect for Shell.”
“And I’m going to keep practising my Rubik’s cube solving skills,” Kavitha laughs. I fantasize about getting good enough to try solving a cube in one hand while playing the keyboard with the other. It’s something I thought about recently, waking my husband up at 3am to discuss it. Maybe I’ll get there one day.”