Since signing on with Shell, Poonum Parmar has already travelled around the world. And, as a Reservoir Engineer, her career is only just beginning. Here, we find how Shell’s graduate programme took her where she wanted to go.
Name: Poonum Parmar
Background: Masters in Chemical Engineering
How long have you been at Shell?
I’ve just completed my second year. I started as a graduate in 2007 but I had some involvement with the company before then. When I was in my second year, I applied for, and was given, a Personal Development Award . I was given some money to fund a charity project in Bosnia teaching young children English. Following that, I was asked to be their campus ambassador at Imperial College, London (where I did my Masters).
What exactly does a reservoir engineer do?
I look at reservoirs and analyse how much oil I can get from them. I work with a geologist and a geophysicist to model it, and then I take that model and put wells into it and try and predict how much oil we can get.
How long does the graduate programme last?
Because I’m in the sub-surface discipline (as a reservoir engineer) there’s a slightly different programme from the surface scheme. In sub-surface there’s an accelerated scheme which usually takes two years, but it’s really up to the individual. I managed to successfully exit in a year and a half.
Did the programme ‘work’ for you?
Yes, there was a lot of support available – including mentors, coaches and training courses. I think that the most important thing about graduate schemes is that there is a support network so that you don’t feel lost in the system. It also gives you a solid basis to think about your career progression.
What subjects did you study at school before university?
I studied maths, physics, IT and chemistry at AS level, carrying forward maths, IT and chemistry to A-level.
What will you be doing next with the company?
I’m coming out of my first role in December and then going to Holland to do some well site work. It’s a great opportunity for me as for my first two years I’ve been in the office so this will be very different. It’ll be a great opportunity to get some ‘hands-on’ experience.
Do you think there will be much more opportunity to travel in the future?
Absolutely. I’ve been on lots of courses where I’ve gone overseas, and I will have the opportunity to travel to anywhere in the world where Shell operates.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
I find modelling quite challenging as I’m not from a programming background. It’s been a big learning curve to use C++ and other languages I’m not familiar with. It can be quite challenge, but there are lots of people around who have expertise and can help me.
…and the most rewarding thing about what you do?
It’s definitely when I make presentations and share my work and results with people. It’s also rewarding to be working with such an interdisciplinary team.
Traditionally, there haven’t been many women involved with engineering. Do you think it’s a career suited to them?
Definitely, there are no barriers (certainly not in Shell). There is even a specific support network for women.
What would you say is the single best thing about your job?
Everyone says that their job is different, but I can truly say that is the case for me. Also, in Shell there is such as range of diversity that it makes me really love working for this company.
What do you do outside work?
Because I live in Aberdeen, there are a lot of outdoor activities…so I like to go rock climbing. I also play squash and netball. I’ve also started to learn Spanish.
Find out more about careers at Shell at www.shell.com/careers.