David – Accountant – Shell

Accountancy, Case study December 15, 2009

David - Accountant - Shell

Name: David Nguyen

Age: 25

Degree and university: BSc Accounting & Finance at Warwick University.

Work Title: I am a Projects Reporting Analyst within the Exploration and Production (EP) business at Shell.

What do you actually do?

-         I provide management information and analysis on delivery of key EP capital projects

-         I work with projects and regional technical organisations to collect project related management information

-         I also work on the improvement and further development of the management information systems in place

-         I provide support to projects-related initiatives and data requests e.g. Supply Chain Management, Business improvement initiatives, Investor Relations queries


Why did you decide to go into this sector?

I wanted the opportunity to work in an exciting and growing industry. I was attracted to Shell’s global dimension, meaning I would be able to work with colleagues in other countries. The job also allowed me to develop skills that could be transferred to any part of the business. Another advantage about the ‘package’, which I found interesting, was the ability to experience several roles during my first years in the company -currently on my second- while at the same time, moving horizontally as well as vertically. I also felt that the sector could help me improve my analytical skills and ability to distil key simple messages from complex data, which is the case.

How did you find out about your particular course?

Like many students, I studied a great deal of university prospectuses – they are always a good source of information about the particular courses on offer because curricula between the different universities really do vary. I wanted to attend a university which offered a solid commercial course and a reputation for delivering a sound business education.

Would you undertake further training to further your career?

I am currently in the process of completing my ACCA qualification. All graduates at Shell also take part in the DEVELOP programme, where you focus on growing yourself and gaining a wide range of experiences within the first year as previously mentioned. For me, this includes 3 rotations during the first five years in different roles, businesses and functions in Finance. I also work with my line manager to build on my existing skills. I am also considering undertaking a postgraduate qualification, such as a part time MBA alongside my job.

I attend frequent job-related as well as skills focused courses at Shell as part of continued development

What do you like most about you do and are there any downsides?

I like the responsibility of liaising with key decision makers within a global company and supplying them with the relevant analysis to help them make those decisions. I also like the fact that I can work on projects that require technical and commercial knowledge.

At times I have a demanding schedule; and obviously this peaks during reporting periods. You will always need to pay attention to detail even at times when you are working long hours – an important skill in any role.


What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you did?

I think analytical skills and the ability to distil key simple messages from complex data are key. It is important to be able to communicate in different ways with various people. Paying attention to detail at all times, and making sure the outputs you deliver reflect the best of your ability. And be enthusiastic and always willing to learn! Although I think this is easy if you are working in an environment that you are passionate about.

What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to come into this sector?

Due to the size, the complexity of the environment and the variety of functions needed to make everything work, the oil and gas sector is always looking for a diverse range of talents and competences. I did a lot of research around who were the key players within the industry and what career opportunities were available in commercial and finance areas. Shell struck me as a particularly forward-looking organisation, both in terms of the long-term thinking and how serious they were about developing their talent from within.

I also looked at the company itself in detail, right from how it operates to the technical terms that soon became everyday use for me. Basically becoming familiar with the sheer diversity of the group, the differences between upstream and downstream, and the variety of finance roles on offer and the profiles of recent joiners. There is a wealth of information out there, including what’s on the Shell website, and it really helped me to make my decision. I would encourage others who consider working in the industry to explore the sector.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My expectations upon joining Shell were exceeded right from the start. In my first assignment I was offered a role as an internal audit within financial audit group. It involved a lot of international audit engagements in various group companies, allowing me to visit the operating companies around the world and understand the breadth and diversity of the business. It was a challenging role from day one with a very steep learning curve both in terms of accounting and auditing knowledge as well as business understanding. The big advantage of working for such a company is the diversity of job opportunities. After two and a half years my second and current assignment is in the Exploration and Production Projects arena. In my current role within EP Projects, our team fills a fundamental role of giving senior management a global portfolio overview of our major capital projects. During my time in Projects, I have learnt a great deal about what makes a project tick, which I hope will lay foundations for my continued career within the Projects arena. I also enjoy the opportunity to work internationally and be given a role where I can exercise real responsibility.

Simply put, being in such an environment and having lived through all of these experiences makes me confident about my future career options.

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