News 07 Jul 2020

Young Masters

Two Indigenous Woodsiders are simultaneously expanding the company’s pool of managerial talent and widening their career options by studying full-time for an MBA.

Every year, Woodside sponsors employees to study full time for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Western Australia.


The company identifies candidates to sponsor through recognised areas for growth and individual development plans.

“We now sponsor two employees a year and since 2015, when this sponsorship began, 12 employees have been awarded MBAs, and another two are currently studying,” reports Jennifer Barnes, learning development and capability manager and the program’s coordinator.

Jennifer says the program is another part of the company’s strategy to develop its own managerial talent rather than hiring from outside. It provides diverse and practical learning experiences.

Throughout the program the MBA students have access to ExCom level mentoring.

“Once they return to work they are able to commence roles in new discipline areas, making immediate use of their newly learned skills,” she adds.

The current MBA students are two Indigenous Woodsiders – engineer Shanon Vos and geoscientist Ebony Taylor.

They have very different work experiences, but the MBA is having a similar impact on both: it’s challenging them while opening up new career paths in which they have no in-depth knowledge or haven’t previously considered.

“I’ve wanted to do an MBA for some time, but I was unsure how to manage the workload with my current role and if the MBA would add enough value,” Shanon reflects.

“But after only the first unit, it became clear it was so relevant to what we do that it opened that value proposition up quite a bit.”

Both say the workload is heavy, the hours long, and Shanon remarks on the “phenomenal” amount of reading required.

Ebony hails from WA’s South West where her family ties include Wardandi Noongar heritage from the Busselton region.

She joined Woodside seven years ago as a graduate geoscientist and was well champion for the GWF-2 drilling campaign in 2016 and 2017.

The past two years were spent in Corporate Affairs, where the fast pace and changing workload was valuable preparation for her studies.

“I’ve been lucky enough to try a couple of different roles and I think an MBA will add to my developing skill set and provide some business-type skills which may open some doors for me in other areas of the company,” she says.

“I’m getting a taste of finance, some marketing – lots of areas I didn’t know much about before, and I’m excited about the possibilities for the future.”

Shanon is a proud Tjupan man who grew up in the small remote community of Cosmo Newberry, 1036 km east of Perth in the WA goldfields, where he was able to learn the traditional values of his culture. 

Read the full Q2 2020 issue of Trunkline here.

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