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“My time as a confidential counsellor is the only thing I really do miss”

Henk Brobbel

“Shell is the number one employer in the world”

"I will never forget my first day at Shell. I was driving from the motorway to the refinery for my medical examination and saw a big black plume of smoke; the thermal gas plant (TGI) was on fire. On my way to my new employer, that was a bit upsetting. When I arrived, all my worries evaporated: how I was picked up and accompanied to my department. Everything was so professional. That was in 1984. I ended up working for Shell for 34 years, always in Pernis in 'operations, maintenance and turnarounds'.

By yourself you can't do a single thing
"It quickly became clear to me that within Shell there are no limitations in terms of your personal development. If you can spot the opportunities, they're given to you. Apart from my last job as Non Routine Maintenance (NRM) manager, what I enjoyed most was my time at turnarounds. That's an incredibly dynamic world. A period of good preparation, and from the very moment a plant has a shutdown for two months, it's continuing 24/7 to make sure everything is ready on time. Teamwork is key, because by yourself you can't do anything at all.

I worked as a turnaround manager for 22 years. It was great to do such a job with a team of specialists. At a big event, there were sometimes as many as 3,500 people working at the various plants. That's quite a responsibility, but you really grow into it. My first factory shutdown had a budget of 200,000 guilders. With my last event in 2012, I ended up with €85 million. If you gain people's trust and deliver together, anything is possible."

Confidential counsellor
At 60, I took early retirement. Not because I was no longer having a good time, but because it was the right moment for other things and it was financially possible. Now I spend my time volunteering, among other things. In the meantime, I have also become a granddad.

People told me I could finally start enjoying myself. But I have thoroughly loved all of my 34 years. For me, Shell is the number one employer in the world.

My time as a confidential counsellor at Shell is the only thing I really do miss. I was privileged to do that for eight and a half years and it gave me a lot of fulfilment. If they asked me to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate even a single second.

“If you gain people's trust and deliver together, anything is possible at Shell”