Fulfilling Your Curiosity
Following a successful early career as a process engineer with Shell, Kylie van der Sar’s interests had broadened and she decided to take a leap of faith and change directions.
Pursuing a career that follows the one conventional route is not as common as it used to be, and for Kylie van der Sar, there was always the assumption of altering her career path: “When I went to university I studied both engineering and commerce, and I did that really with a view that later in life I wanted to go into general management.”
After more than a decade as an engineer, Kylie van der Sar had reached a checkpoint in her career and decided to steer away from the one-route career path and complete an MBA. “A lot of the engineering jobs at that time were in far flung places like Kazakhstan and Siberia – they were great roles and had I not had a husband and children to consider, I would have gone there.
“Shell was really supportive; they gave me the time off to go and study. It was a leap of faith, they allowed me to make that major shift.”
Kylie’s life at Shell began in university when the company sent her to Gabon in Central Africa, where she was one of the first in Australia to be accepted for an internship overseas: “I loved the challenge, and I loved the big industrial side of things.”
Kylie’s passion for engineering saw her move from her first role, as a project engineer in Supply and Distribution in Melbourne, to a process engineer working with on and offshore operations in the Netherlands at NAM – a Shell joint-venture, where she sharpened her operational engineering skills. It was, however, a posting with Shell Global Solutions in Upstream Development, undertaking feasibility studies for New Business development, that triggered the change in career to focus on the commercial side of the business.
Shell supported Kylie through this transition and guaranteed her a position when she returned from her studies: “They took me to an area where I had no experience but based on past performances they were willing to take a chance on me – which was fabulous!
“The company had faith. Their view was if you’re willing to make that investment in your career, they’re willing to give you the opportunities.”
After a stint in Global LNG in The Hague, and five years in Deal Delivery growing the Australian business, Kylie is now a Senior Commercial Manager in the core commercial division in Perth. “I love the commercial work, I love dealing with our partners and our customers.” And she has a focus on future professional growth: “I would like to combine both my commercial skill set and my technical skill set and look more into asset management.”
Kylie’s advice for those interested in pursuing an alternate career is: “You need to know where you’re going and why you’re going there. When you’ve figured that out you need to tell people around you and actively pursue it. A diverse and rewarding career isn’t something that is given to you, it is something you need to actively pursue.”