Name: Miranda Verney
Company: Shell Canada
Length of employment: 5 years
Degree: Bsc. Applied Science, Mechanical Engineering
Where did you go to school? What program did you attend?
I went to Queen’s University for a degree in mechanical engineering.
What drew you to your current field?
I chose to study engineering because I liked physics and math in high school. Then I chose mechanical engineering because you didn’t have to become an expert in anything specific, but rather you could study various topics to understand enough technical details to support the experts who delve into them. Choosing production engineering was an extension of that. You get to be a jack-of-all-trades, interacting with people of more expertise in different disciplines, and putting the pieces together in the end.
How did you find your current position?
Shell was hiring summer students through the university career website. After having a great summer working at Shell, and by talking to mentors there, I was placed as a production engineer when I started working full-time after graduation. Since then, I’ve had the chance to work in fields ranging from heavy oil, to tight and sour gas.
Tell us a bit about your responsibilities.
As a Production Engineer, my job is to optimize production of gas wells and keep them safe to produce. Our team manages projects with the aid of other disciplines to find technical solutions when we encounter wells that are not performing as expected. We project manage the implementation of proven and new technologies to best optimize well production, from choosing the technology, to getting approvals, to organizing the execution on budget and on time.
What is the most challenging aspect of your position?
I think the trickiest part of the job is balancing a wide variety of projects at the same time. It requires a lot of coordination with people that have different priorities. There’s a large range of technical problems that come up unexpectedly, so you’re always kept on your toes.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s a pleasure to work with a team of talented people of different skills, and in different locations, to come up with solutions to new problems we haven’t encountered before. The teams I’m a part of are proud of what they do, and always bring their best to the table, so it’s a very positive atmosphere to work in. I’m grateful to have had excellent mentors, and it’s very rewarding to be able to start doing the same for others.
What skills have you learned through your work experience?
My work has allowed me the opportunity to gain technical competence (how to operate, optimize, repair wells, and how to do it all safely), as well as how to be effective at communicating and project planning.
What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?
It helps to be organized, communicate well, and understand what impacts your work, and how your work impacts others. Learning how to influence people, in such a way that you’re all happy working towards the same goals, gets the job done and makes the work rewarding.
What advice do you have for students looking to land their first job?
You probably won’t end up where you originally intended in two, five, ten years from now. So keep an open mind, be brave, and take some chances to try new things. If you don’t like it, you can change it, but no matter what you’ll gain some great experience and open new doors to jobs you didn’t even know existed. Opportunities come to those who work hard, are open to change, and keep a good attitude. As well, surround yourself with people who know what they’re talking about and want the best for you, so you can learn from them and establish a trustworthy network.