As a child, Rebekah Mohr wanted to solve crimes. “I always wanted to be a criminal analyst and work with the police,” she says.

But rather than the police, after graduating first from Canada’s McGill University and later the University of British Columbia with a Masters in Statistics, she joined Shell.

Now, as part of a team that designs and develops ways to protect against cyber threats, she’s not solving crimes, she’s preventing them.

Merging skills and technologies

Rebekah joined the Global Process Control Domain (PCD) IT Security Team in 2013 as its first female technician, where she plays an essential role in the protection of Shell’s assets against cyber threats.

“I use data to help reduce cyber risks such as hacking and virtual data theft,” she says. “So I’m doing what I always wanted but in a different industry.”

Even though Rebekah had a long interest in technology, this role wasn’t something she had intended to pursue when she first joined Shell. Following a stint on an Assessed Internship, she enrolled full time on the Shell Graduate Programme in 2010.

After three years working in a graduate role as a Control Systems IT Specialist at the Scotford Upgrader in Alberta, she joined the Global PCD IT Security Team. The move meant stepping up into an area where she would be working alongside people with more experience, but it was clear she would be supported from the start.

“I met with the manager to express my interest in the team and he said that my computer science and statistics background was well matched to the role,” says Rebekah. “It’s a non-graduate job, but I received a lot of training on the Graduate Programme and my manager was able to utilise my skills to benefit the team.”

Plus, Rebekah had a natural interest in the work – work that she believes could have a large impact on the future of the energy industry.   

“Operations technology is a hybrid of engineering and IT, and the future of Shell,” she says. “PCD IT is a hybrid field that doesn’t exist in any education programmes at this point.

“If I hadn’t stumbled across this opportunity then I would never have known it existed, which makes me wonder what other unusual career paths exist within Shell that you’d never think of.”

Following inspiring role models

As the team’s first female technician, Rebekah was aware of being a pioneer.

Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ had a huge influence on the way she thought about her role. Rebekah was particularly struck to read that there is a common female tendency to ‘feel like a fraud’ while working within technical roles.

"Once I read that this wasn’t because of a lack of knowledge or training, I was able to ignore that voice in my head and pursue the technical opportunities I knew I had the ability to excel in,” she says. “I felt this was a game-changer for me, and I want other women to be aware of it too"

Rebekah

Rebekah says she has been inspired to follow in the footsteps of Alisa Choong, the recently appointed Executive Vice President of TaCIT (Technical and Competitive IT) who has brought female leadership to this unique hybrid technical space in Shell.

Now Rebekah wants to be a role model for other females in technical fields, and inspire more young women to take up technical subjects at university.

“I want to find a way to encourage young women to develop these skills, so they have the opportunity to determine for themselves whether they have a passion for the work, giving them the confidence to pursue that passion before they enter university or the workforce.

“A Sheryl Sandberg quote sums it up for me,” says Rebekah. “'In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.'”

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