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The Independent: Shell

By: Steve McCormack, – United Kingdom
Published: Oct 05, 2006

What does it do?

The company’s global clout is based on oil and gas. But these days, with the burning of fossil fuels widely accepted to be behind global warming, no business can survive without green credentials as well. So Shell, in addition to the hydrocarbons bit, boasts “a broad portfolio of hydrogen, biofuels, wind- and solar-power interests,” consistent with aims that are “economically, socially and environmentally sustainable”.

The lion’s share of the British business is still carried out on numerous oil and gas rigs dotted all over the North Sea, from north of the Shetlands to the seas off East Anglia. The main refinery is near Ellesmere Port on Merseyside, which supplies around 1,000 petrol stations across the UK road network.

Vital statistics:

In the UK, Shell employs 8,000 people directly and is responsible for about a quarter of the UK’s oil and gas supplies, and about 16 per cent of the country’s petrol and diesel needs.

The office:

The UK’s headquarters are in a towering office block between Waterloo station and the river Thames, in London.

Is this you?

Shell expects to hire about 150 graduates from UK universities next year, in a vast range of engineering and commercial roles. Try the “degree matcher” function in the graduates section of shell’s website,, to find your potential niche.

The recruitment process:

The online application contains two questionnaires, designed to give you an idea of what working for Shell would be like, and to help Shell decide whether your form stays on the desk or goes in the bin. If you survive, you’ll be interviewed, and given the opportunity to show your mettle by analysing a contemporary topic relevant to the energy business.

The next stage involves a choice. You can attend a Shell Recruitment Day, with work scenarios testing your technical skills and leadership potential. Or you can opt for what’s called the Gourami Business Challenge, a five-day residential event where you’ll be asked to develop a five-year plan for Gourami, a fictional country bordering the Indian Ocean. If you come out of either experience with a job offer, you’ll find yourself on Shell’s “Global Onboarding” scheme: not a parallel recruitment stream for surfer-dudes, but a structured on-the-job training programme, different for each business area.

Top dollar?

Shell promises a “competitive performance-related salary”, reflecting market conditions and the skills you bring.

Beam me up, Scotty?

There are no automatic career milestones awaiting Shell’s graduate intake, but the profiles section on the website is littered with recent recruits acquiring significant responsibility within two or three years.

Who’s the boss?

James Smith, a physics graduate, is chairman of Shell UK. He’s been with the company since 1983, having joined from Accenture.

Little known fact:

In a recent fuel-economy competition, run by Shell, the winning entry managed to keep a car going at the rate of 10,000 miles per gallon: that’s 10 miles for every teaspoon of fuel. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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