Kylie van der Sar has always been fascinated with physics. Add to that her curious nature and interest in large, industrial machinery and fluid mechanics, and it’s easy to see why she decided to study engineering. After completing her degrees in mechanical engineering and commerce, she kicked off her career as a Project Engineer at Shell’s Newport Terminal in Victoria.
Today, 18 years later, Kylie is Shell Australia’s Business Development Manager, leading upstream acquisition and divestment deals. Her work helps to shape Shell’s portfolio of opportunities in Australia.
“I’ve always been attracted to companies who had large technological projects and a chance to work abroad with Shell was an exciting prospect. I’ve worked on projects in the Netherlands, Russia, across Europe and in Africa. I’ve now been back in Australia for almost five years,” Kylie says. She appreciates the fact that it’s easy to develop yourself within the company. “I’ve been able to plan out a career without having to move outside Shell. There are a lot of opportunities in the company. Also, when I think about the values that Shell aspires to around honesty, respect and integrity, I realise that it aligns with my own personal values.”
According to Kylie, Shell’s flexible working policy is another benefit to employees. “I like the autonomy to manage my own time and the trust given to me that I will manage my workload. Thankfully in my role, the nine-to-five mentality doesn’t really exist and I can arrange my work to allow me to watch my kids perform in their school assembly or leave early to look after them if needed.
Lars (9) and Hugh (6) are involved in any sport they can play and they are full of energy. My husband Irold and I try to spend as much time as we can with them. Flexible working is about being responsible; about delivering what you need to when you need to,” she says. Her job does come with challenges, though. “Seeing as my role has to do with acquisitions and divestments, I constantly have to look across different disciplines; legal, financial, technical, economical and sometimes even geological. But a lot of my time and effort also go into my team. I am always trying the get the most out of the people and to help them become even better at what they do.
I realise that if my team works well and delivers well, it’s good for the business. Managing the work as well as the people is something I enjoy; I get a great sense of achievement from developing those around me,” she shares.