Chris Languedoc was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Alberta when he attended a career fair in order to learn more about career opportunities at Shell.
A Saugeen First Nation member, Chris was thrilled with the connections he made through the event.
“The team from Shell had a great and friendly vibe. I got a strong sense that Shell really identifies with their people – their employees matter and they care about your success,” Chris says.
In addition to meeting Shell team members and learning about workplace culture, Chris also learned more about the range of potential a role at Shell could offer him.
“Shell is a big company and there are lots of opportunities to work on challenging and complex tasks as well as explore other roles so that you can learn and grow.”
“I got a strong feeling that a career at Shell would be a great fit to accelerate my growth as a recent grad and a future mechanical engineer.”
Currently in Shell’s Graduate Program, Chris is at work as a Pressure Equipment Integrity Engineer-in-Training (EIT) at Scotford Refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.
He’s part of a team that looks after a wide range of static equipment, including pipes, pressure vessels, tanks and more.
“Shell’s Graduate Program will help you apply the skills you learned in school and help you build a strong foundation going forward in your career.”
Pressure Equipment Integrity EIT, Shell
“We monitor the equipment we have on-site for potential reliability and integrity issues that can be related to corrosion, degradation, or previous design issues, while providing support for new equipment and piping,” he explains.
It’s complicated and precise work, looking at pieces such as the metallurgy of the piping or equipment, process conditions, and design conditions and making sure all of those pieces help ensure safe and reliable operations.
A big part of Chris’s responsibilities involve reviewing project packages that outline the scope of an upcoming project, including the installation of new piping and equipment.
“All of the new equipment that is installed on site requires lots of technical assurance before it’s ready for service,” says Chris, explaining that each project must comply with both industry codes and Shell’s own guidelines as well.
Transitioning from classroom to workplace
Chris’s role at Shell is putting his mechanical engineering background to work.
“My education has helped me with a lot of the fundamental concepts,” he says, adding that his background in solid mechanics is also quite useful. “Having knowledge of certain concepts like heat transfer and fluid mechanics is really helpful when I’m looking at industry codes and our own internal standards, trying to understand them better, and applying that knowledge to the tasks I do.”
A strong safety culture
In addition to mandatory safety training, Chris has benefited from a real emphasis on a safe workspace at Shell.
“There’s a strong safety culture at Shell,” he says. “People really care for you. There’s an emphasis on safety: you feel it and you really believe it.”
That’s part of what makes his job so important – and so rewarding.
“We have a lot of people out in the site who work around the equipment, and we want to ensure that the equipment is safe,” he says.
“By ensuring all of our assets and equipment are running safely and reliably, I contribute to Shell’s global philosophy of ‘Goal Zero,’ which in short says: ‘No harm, no leaks, no excuses.’”
“A lot of the tasks I’ve been assigned have involved a significant learning curve. I’ve learned a lot from these experiences and I’ve been able to apply that knowledge forward, in other jobs and tasks,” he says.
Shell has made sure Chris is well-prepared with in-house training and learning opportunities. Some of the courses Chris has taken have introduced him to Shell’s business model and helped him learn more about the industry, while others are specifically designed to help him face the challenges of his role.
“Materials and corrosion are key topics in my department, so having courses on those topics helps me solidify my knowledge in that area and bring more to the team,” he says.
“My supervisor and other people in our group are ensuring that the courses I am taking are relevant to my job and will help me in the future.”
The right focus at Shell
When Chris connected with the Shell team at the University of Alberta, he heard about Shell’s strong commitment to workplace diversity.
Now that he’s begun his career at Shell, he’s observed that commitment first-hand.
“Shell has a very strong diversity and inclusion culture,” he says. “There are a number of groups that people can join to expand their professional network and help maintain their identity and stay in touch with their culture.”
Chris has become involved in Shell’s Aboriginal Network – and emphasizes the value of initiatives that connect employees from diverse backgrounds.
“Resources like this help people to feel comfortable about their culture and background, while helping you strengthen your relationships with other people in the group,” he explains.
“With Shell’s assets being located all around the world, I feel that support really helps solidify stronger relationships with people of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds.”
He hopes to get more involved with initiatives to support acknowledgment and recognition of the Aboriginal workforce, like Shell’s Aboriginal Awareness Week.
“I have a growing interest in supporting Aboriginal communities, it’s something I hadn’t really been in touch with since childhood,” he says.
A great career move
According to Chris, the best part of Shell’s Graduate Program is the opportunity to make a real contribution.
“A lot of the tasks I’ve been given so far have been very challenging but very rewarding as well,” he says.
During the plant’s 2013 turnaround, where a majority of the refinery went offline for extensive work and maintenance, Chris was tasked with providing assistance and troubleshooting with many of the site’s bolted joints, which were disassembled and reassembled during that outage.
“I learned a lot from that experience. There are a lot of instances like that, where I’ve been given significant tasks but also connected with the right support to succeed,” says Chris. “That’s part of how Shell helps make me a stronger engineer.”
He hopes to further develop his skills in his current role, before exploring positions in other areas, like reliability engineering and machinery engineering.
“Shell is very open to having people go into other departments to gain experience in other disciplines to enhance their own skills and to get a broader feeling of the company,” he explains.
Based on his experience, Chris is quick to recommend both the program, and a career at Shell.
“Shell’s Graduate Program will help you apply the skills you learned in school and help you build a strong foundation going forward in your career,” Chris says.
“There’s a lot to gain from the experience you’ll get as a new grad at Shell.”