"New arrivals to Pittsburgh are always impressed by the people and how hardworking we are as a region."
As a poet with an English degree, Jessica Costa didn’t anticipate working in the oil and gas industry, but has found her home at Shell and is working to make sure their culture is living, breathing and positively contributing to the company and region’s success.
As a major contributor to employee experience at Shell, how would you describe the culture?
I admittedly didn’t know a lot about the oil and gas industry as a liberal arts major, but it was eye-opening to me to see Shell’s corporate and social responsibility plans and to see how much they care about their people, the environment, and the safety of their operations.
Shell has 90,000 employees worldwide, but my experience with the new petrochemical facility in Beaver County is exciting because we are creating the culture of our future facility. We’re building something from the ground up and our leadership recognizes the importance of cultivating a strong culture and hiring for character, not just skill set. To me, culture comes down to getting people engaged and being able to bring your whole self to work. Staff who are happy and involved ultimately contribute to a safer and more effective organization.
From the start, we break down our mission and explicitly define how our values manifest in behaviors so that each person knows their role and what’s expected of them; that transparency has been important as we’ve built our team and as we look to expand over the next few years. This opportunity to create a culture that’s welcoming, engaging, effective and inclusive of the Arts is one of the proudest accomplishments of my career and to have the buy-in from leadership to own it is empowering.
How is Shell capitalizing on the collaborative nature of our region through partnerships?
We work closely with the community and schools to ensure the local workforce can be trained and ready for jobs that will be here as we build. As part of this initiative, Shell recently donated $1 million to the Community College of Beaver County’s process technology program to train the local workforce. We’ve also made a concerted effort to engage the municipalities and boroughs that are now our neighbors to answer questions from community members and share accurate information about our presence and operations. We’re part of the river sweep, an initiative to clean up the river, and have been working with the Pittsburgh Steelers to help cultivate STEM learning in Beaver, Allegheny and Washington counties. It’s important that we become a part of the community and work with other local groups to improve the region for everyone.
What are some of your favorite local places?
For me, one of our biggest assets is access to the best of everything. We can be in the city in 35 minutes for professional sports (we’re serious hockey fans!) and a great music scene and I can be doing any number of outdoor activities near my home or within a close drive –fly fishing, hiking, snowshoeing –there’s so much to do in this region. I also love how much the food scene has exploded and not just within the city limits. Plated & Poured, located in Beaver, is a great local restaurant that sells Pennsylvania beers and 2nd Ward Sanctuary in my hometown of Ellwood City, recently opened with a cool local take on the speakeasy. Along the same lines is our favorite spot, Burgh’ers in Harmony, which has great food and recently started making their own beer. The region is really starting to grow and has a lot of local flavor.
You work with people, many of whom are relocating to the region, what do they have to say about Pittsburgh?
New arrivals to Pittsburgh are always impressed by the people and how hardworking we are as a region. We have a neighborhood feel that is unknown to a lot of outsiders until they experience it first hand. I also think we bust the millennial myth a bit, the work ethic and grit that this region is built on continues to come through in our workforce across generations.