As Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Beginning 1 January 2023, Siti Hurrairah Sulaiman will certainly be in a position to make some important decisions as she will be elected as the first female country chair and SVP Upstream for Shell Malaysia. The Upstream operations are on the efficient development and extraction of crude oil and natural gas in offshore Sarawak and Sabah.

In her new role, Kuching-born Siti will be in charge of all Shell Malaysia businesses, besides her responsibilities in her current role as senior vice president for the Upstream business in Malaysia. She succeeds Dato’ Ivan Tan, who will be taking on the role of executive vice president, Wells, for Shell Group. Her appointment is noteworthy since the oil and gas (O&G) industry is usually male dominated.

Siti first graduated with a first-class degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Imperial College in London as a Shell scholar and started her career as an operation engineer at Shell Malaysia Upstream in 1994.

Back in 2011, she had already set a benchmark for other women in the company as she was appointed as the first female Malaysian asset manager of Shell and became the director of Sabah Shell Petroleum Company Limited. In 2019, she was nominated by Shell UK for the Asian Women of Achievement (UK) external award.

In 2020, Siti was already managing a wide portfolio in Brunei, China, India, and Malaysia as part of her role as Vice President of Integrated Gas Ventures East. In August 2021, she was elected as the VP of Technical Asset Operations and lead a large global technical community of around 1,400 staff.

She spoke to The Borneo Post about the barriers she has faced in her career as a woman. She said, “Now, all these did not come without any challenges, in fact, there were plenty of challenges. As I progressed in the organisation over time, I realised that we’ve got to continue demonstrating our willingness to learn and to listen.”

She went on, “And in order for us to be able to role model and lead effectively, women leaders need to be able to work collaboratively with others across the organisation, embracing diversity and hence, promoting trust and fostering long-lasting relationships.”

She has done all of this whilst juggling her duties as a mother as she has three daughters with Feisol Sobeng, a former Production Procurement Manager at Shell.

Siti, you’ve definitely made Kuching and Sarawak proud!

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