Shell Graduate Programme: Building Future Female Leaders

Sep 25, 2015 1 Min Read


As one of the world’s leading energy companies, Shell recognises the importance of a diverse workforce with a balanced gender representation. Shell aims to create a workforce that mirrors the communities in which it operates, which will help them to better understand and build relationships within the communities. Diversity is also regarded as a necessity for sustainable growth and provides a platform for creativity and innovation.

Shell faces similar challenges as other employers in the Oil and Gas sector in recruiting and retaining female talent. The Oil & Gas industry is generally perceived as being male-dominated and not seen as an industry of choice for female talent. As a result, there is a limited talent pool of senior technical women and a shortage of women role models. Given this situation, Shell has in place specific programmes to achieve 50% female workforce and 20% female representation in senior management.

The Shell Graduate Programme (SGP)

The Shell Graduate Programme is tailored to the needs of each skill pool or discipline and focuses on personal and professional development of graduate hires. Each area has its own tailored development framework based on a standardised global Shell structure, with the eventual aim of creating highly competent, professional and best in class leaders.

In their effort to increase the intake of female graduates as a means to build the pipeline for future female leadership, Shell revisited the attraction and recruitment initiatives to be more targeted and female centric:

  • Appointing current Shell female leaders as Campus Ambassadors, and also to be role models.
  • Having special engagements about careers at Shell with female students in universities.
  • Prioritizing female candidates in the selection process whilst maintaining meritocracy.
  • Branding and Attraction campaigns that are more female centric, fit for purpose and targeted.
  • Creating a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) recruiting excellence toolkit to upskill the recruiters to become experts in D&I recruiting.
  • Putting in place scholarship targets and increasing focus on female students.

The Outcomes

The focused campaign has proven to be successful, with a significant increase in female graduates hired into the Shell Graduate Programme, and 50% of the technical graduate hires in 2015 are female. Additionally, of the female graduates hired since 2007 into the Shell Graduate Programme:

  • 25% are now in Mid to Senior Management
  • 64% in Managerial or team lead equivalent positions

The Shell Graduate Programme is an example of a successful programme which is making progress in meeting Shell global diversity targets, i.e. percentage of women in senior leadership, percentage of countries with local nationals in senior leadership and continuous improvement with respect to workplace inclusion.

Prashanthini Sunderan, a Subsea Controls Engineer on the Shell Graduate Programme, who worked on the commissioning and start-up of the Gumusut-Kakap deep-water installation off the coast of Malaysia, the first of its kind for Shell in the country.

Prashanthini Sunderan

“I found I was doing real work and making a contribution straight away. No one is thrown in at the deep end, though. When you’re new you’re given guidance and you can ask for feedback if you need help. I also had a technical coach assigned to me.”

For more information on Shell Malaysia’s initiatives, please visit
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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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