26 July 2021

Life After Shell


Today was my last day at Shell

After 3.5 years of gasoline highs (and lows), I finally call it quits with Shell. It has been an amazing chase for this dream energy industry career; an opportunity that somehow helped me get things back in perspective and grew in some of the most bizarre of places in the process.


I had a hard time coming to terms with this decision to leave. It wasn’t an easy one to make given the value of things I needed to trade, the level of uncertainty that comes with it, and the current state due to pandemic; underscored by this fear of seemingly starting all over again. But hesitations aside, I deeply hope that I am taking the better option now. Letting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass is just too hard, that I am surely bound to future regrets of monumental proportions should I not heed the call. 


Cliché as it is, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. In this case, an equally big end as a prelude to yet the biggest move I have to make 14 years ago, since. So, thanks to Shell, for all the learnings. It was an honor carrying the pecten brand of training and service. Looking back at things that have transpired leading to this day rightfully so deserves some self-introspections and #StoryTime.

When you apply stress to a system under equilibrium, the system will find a way to restore it back 


Le Chatelier pretty much sums up (and justifies) the events that led to my eventual Shell exit. Things started to turn in bad taste sometime in August last year when the news on my workplace’s huge transition broke, along with the underlying possibility of not keeping my job anymore. It was a major shake-up that triggered an exhaustive search for alternate options and exploration of all possibilities within and beyond the confines of my current shell situation.


That very bomb dropped, hugely disrupted the equilibrium – the major factor prompting me to head to this direction on the other side of the equation.


Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land in one of the stars


Circa September/October, I was stuck between a rock & a hard place. With my workplace in the rebuilding stage and organizational protocols all over the place in the midst of pandemic, I couldn't go anywhere. 

It was a crucial juncture to play my cards right. In a nutshell, I needed a solid game plan;  Plan A was to keep my job, getting another in a different company was a close second, and going back-to-school came in third. In the effort to uphold the first two, I took time to recalibrate and upskill. For the latter, I attempted to reconcile with my flinched ms degree quest but was caught in a huge blur on that department, no thanks to the hard iatf protocols in place. 

Funny how and why I took a long shot and ended up pursuing a bigger plan, so huge and ambitious it makes me cringe, especially for someone who’s failing more than succeeding,  given my dark history as a student.

Sometimes the cosmos aligns in the most fitting of ways


By November, I was on the verge of falling prey to a microscopic enemy with my job security under scrutiny. To recap, I have already pushed panic buttons here and there resulting in partially opened doors of opportunities, including those I never for once considered before or even knew existed. 

The major plot twist happened in December – I eventually survived the great exodus and successfully surpassed the retrenchment typhoon. I was then slated to keep the job I prayed hard for. Save for one battle I faithfully signed up for, a.k.a. Erasmus, I purposely shut all other doors. Not closing my Erasmus door yet means getting the closure I needed as it has already cost me a hefty sum (IELTS, school docs requests, etc.) and valuable time. With 90% of the required docs in hand, there was nothing more to lose but a lot to gain at that point. Little did I know, the universe has other plans.

Don’t let comfort eclipse bigger dreams


Early in the new year, I made a firm decision to really try, once and for all. I tried hard to make a good case for myself in a one-page motivation letter, consolidated all necessary docs, and hit that submit button. Surprisingly, I received a series of positive feedbacks on the weeks that followed – passed the initial screening & evaluation (mid-January), qualified for assessment & examination (second week of February), and ultimately secured the official confirmation (first day of March). Such developments turned out to be a good problem to think about and decide on.  

While my immediate goal initially was to simply survive, I ended up at a crossroad, faced with the classic Shakespeare Hamlet question. Dissecting the situation, it was apparent that I was both in a perfect and a wrong time to make the big move, having a hard-to-say-no-to opportunity in one hand while riding a relatively more stable career train on the other. 

Further weighing the options exposed another layer; I may have been settling on the safe side once more, baring vulnerabilities when unexpected forces came into the picture. I was then reminded of a certain piece of advice from a former mentor on the importance of building strong foundations & safety nets in anticipation of when things begin to crumble, finally boiling down to how I finally made this hard, final decision.


The same way hermit crabs undergo shredding, I guess it's worth risking on leaving the current shell in search of another. Innovations happen in braving unfamiliar roads over lurking in the comfort zone. 

Necessity is the mother of all inventions


After everything, I am implored to believe that great things could indeed start from the most unexpected times for the most inconvenient reasons. I may have known about these Erasmus scholarships all these years watching several schoolmates victoriously claiming theirs yet I never for once dared to make a move – believed I was not cut out for it, wired to not gamble on things with the high chance I'll lose, for the most part thinking it’s way out of my league. Not until the need somehow called for it. To cut long story short, I eventually made this bold decision to realize – to realise rather – a life-long dream for an adventure somewhere on the other side of the 🌍