Donna joined Shell as a graduate in November 2001, taking on a role in Downstream Manufacturing in the Tabangao Refinery near Manila. She worked in the refinery as a Technologist (Process Engineer) for six years before moving to Projects and Technology (P&T) in Kuala Lumpur where she took on a Hydrocarbon Management role. She served in this role for almost four years before moving to an Operations role in Upstream Philippines and then on to her current role.

“Shell has such a legacy in the country,” she says. “I’m proud to be part of a team that has a key role to play in the country’s growth. It’s not only about getting the technical and leadership exposure, but also about feeling that I’m directly contributing to the Philippine nation, helping to build its strong economy.”

Donna believes Shell is one of the few companies who truly follow through on programmes aimed at developing women into leadership roles, increasing the level of female participation. “This shows Shell’s commitment to having a diverse workforce. I resonate with this idea because a diverse workforce means you’ll have diverse perspectives put on the table, coupled with an inclusive environment that encourages people at all levels to speak up. This can only strengthen a team. Shell does well with promoting this culture, making the company much more dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking.”

Donna Kuizon Cruz with her partner and two children

She is currently the youngest member of the leadership team, building her skills as an influencer. “In my current role, I would like to be regarded as a person with authority and someone others come to for advice,” she says. “But I also need to keep learning – I believe success in any role depends on your humility and your willingness to continue to grow.”

Donna enjoys bringing people together and making them perform well in a team. During her time at Projects & Technology (P&T) in Kuala Lumpur, her team was asked to put together an improvement plan for one of the main units in a refinery.

“I had to ensure that each individual’s work lined up to the main objective of the project,” she says. “Some people weren’t used to working with others, but in the end we all came together. They could see how each member of the team had an important role to play – it was a powerful lesson to learn and one of my proudest moments at Shell.”

She counts Tom Huizinga, one of her former mentors, as having the first big influence on her career. Tom was the Global Discipline Lead of Hydrocarbon Management while Donna worked in P&T.

Donna says: “Tom and my supervisor at the time, Steve Burger, then the Regional Discipline Lead of Hydrocarbon Management, gave me my first big break. They assigned me to a few challenging projects which developed me greatly as a Shell employee and as a person. I will never forget those conversations I had with Tom where he pointed out what I was good at and why I should not lose confidence. He has this gift of bringing out talent and empowering people to step up – I would like to have the same impact.”

"At Shell I’ve always had the freedom to build on who I was as a person, rather than changing myself to fit into a mould."

Shell employees have the opportunity to reach out to each other by becoming mentors or coaches. Donna enjoys Shell’s commitment to developing people and even though she is a manager, she still has mentors at work. “These people are my inspiration and support network. Their feedback is always helpful, especially when I’m at a crossroads in my career or when I need a fresh perspective on something.”

She is currently mentoring two young employees and is a member of the Senior Women Connect network, aimed at giving women in senior leadership positions the opportunity to learn from each other and encourage each other at challenging points in their careers.

Donna believes that Shell’s flexible working policy helps people make positive choices about all aspects of their lives. “Employees can spend time with their families or on other interests without feeling that they’re not pulling their weight at work. It leads to a happier workforce – a happy employee is also a productive employee,” she says.

She would like to encourage other women to join Shell. “I believe that what makes women different is also what makes them strong. At Shell I’ve always had the freedom to build on who I was as a person, rather than changing myself to fit into a mould. Shell taught me to be confident and assertive yet wary of small habits that might give the wrong message, like being too apologetic. I believe women have the natural qualities and strength to be great leaders.”

More about Donna

  • She spends her evenings with her six-year-old son, Enzo and 18-month-old daughter, Allie. “Our latest activity is building Lego structures. We also like doing little science experiments,” she says.
  • Donna used to play the piano and she’d like to start again.
  • She’s a golf enthusiast and would like to win a tournament someday.
  • Donna is also a qualified professional chemist.
  • Her husband, Voltaire Cruz, also works for Shell. He is Head of Maintenance Education for UI in the Philippines.

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