The out of hours interests, pastimes and hobbies of Shell employees is as diverse as the workforce itself. Shell encourages these pursuits. Not only can they help with an individual’s work/life balance but they can also benefit their careers at Shell. Celeste’s ongoing quest to develop her French language skills gives her much joy while helping improve skills she applies at work.
Celeste Wang loves speaking French. After studying the language in France earlier in her education, Celeste knew that after returning home to China she needed to make an effort to maintain her proficiency in the language.
Celeste works in Shanghai where she is a Key Account Manager in Shell’s Lubricant’s business in China: it’s primarily a B2B focused role she’s been in for six months. Celeste has been working with Shell for two years, joining directly after graduation.
“I knew that, as they say, if I didn’t use it I would lose it. That would have been a pity because I get such joy from French,” Celeste noted. “So I actively looked around for venues in Shanghai where I could continue my French education. Fortunately I found a number of outlets where I could converse in French and, often, enjoy the culture and society that goes with that.”
So Celeste took on honorary work as the general secretary for Groupement des Centraliens en Chine: an organisation for the alumni for all Centraliens (graduates of Ecole Centrale) in China. “This gives alumni a forum to network, converse in French and get to know each other better. It also organises conferences and seminars on various subjects,” Celeste said.
Further, during her annual leave, Celeste participated in a French-speaking contest organised by CCTV (China Central Television). To Celeste’s delight, she came second.
She also occasionally helps the French Consulate in Shanghai. “I helped consulate staff organise some events and participated in French singing competitions where I acted as one of the judges. It was lovely listening to a variety of performers singing in French and a great way to use the language with other French speakers,” Celeste said.
A broader view of cultures, differences and diversity
Celeste sees her experiences during the French speaking contest as important learnings. “I had to take on very challenging tasks: to be calm and resilient when facing them. During that contest, CCTV organised training for us by CCTV broadcasters who gave us public speaking skills training. Those experiences have all been of great help to my work.”
“I also realised that French was helping me learn much more than just the language. I believe learning and knowing the language allows you to better understand the culture it comes from. French is giving me a broader view of cultures, differences and diversity. These lessons also help me in my day job at Shell; as a Key Account Manager, I work with a range of Shell customers. They are often a mix of nationalities and cultures. My French skills mean I am more open to clients differences and am more patient in understanding and engaging with them.”
Celeste also volunteers to teach French to a mixed group of professionals who are interested in French culture and the language. ‘Our group meets up each Sunday,” Celeste said. “While it’s informal it certainly helps with my coaching skills: focusing on explaining things clearly and thoroughly.”