Tom Botts was head of Shell Oilâ€™s Exploration and Production in Europe (EPE) for four or so years until 2009. In this role, he was one of the countable vice-presidents of Shell. He was later promoted to vice-president (VP) for the Global Downstream business of Shell, a position he holds to date.
In his role as VP for EPE, Botts controls some 10 000 staff and is responsible for a significant piece of the business in a company that was breaking its own records as the biggest and most profitable company registered (in Europe) outside of America.
I had the privilege of serving on the committee of young professionals in Shell at the time when we agreed to have a video conference with Botts on the topic â€˜Getting to the Topâ€™ some five years ago.
I remember when I wrote him an email about what we wanted him to do and the motivation plus the value of our intent, two things surprised me. The first thing was the fact despite being such a busy person, Botts responded to my email within 10 minutes. Secondly, he declined the video conference, opting for face-to-face talk with one of our 400 members of the young professionals based in the Aberdeen Office in Scotland. I was so humbled by his humility.
In this talk, Botts was sincere, motivating and particular about what we could do as young men and women who were so hungry and in hurry about getting to the top. He told us that his journey of getting to the top had three secrets.
First, it was about ensuring that things are differently. Botts said he always looks for what he could do differently to make a huge and not just a big difference to the business and his employers (and by extension to the shareholders). He narrated the story of how at one time, he was between appointments within the Shell Group, and he asked for a desk, chair, computer, phone and personal assistant (PA).
Within a week or so, Botts had a brilliant business proposal for his employers. Within a couple of months, he had a team of 60 or so staff working on the new project that added so much value to the business. The secret to this piece was his belief in innovation.
Another key was the vast network of important people he had built. Using a phone, he was able to call peers and colleagues within the organisation that assigned him the different types of skills of people that he needed in his ambitious project.
The second secret that Botts shared with us was that you need to be always a happy employee. He pointed out that when you are not happy, you cannot excel. He said each time he is unhappy with his job, he changed it. Otherwise, he said it is a waste of time.
Of course, Botts is lucky to be working in a group of company so big that it has almost 100 000 positions or employees. Nonetheless, this principle applies to every employee in search of dramatic and historic career achievements.
The third point that Botts shared was the importance of making your family happy. His hypothesis was that if your family is not happy, you cannot excel. Botts said to excel, you need the support of your immediate family members and they will only be able to support you if they are happy. If that is not the case, you need to change a few things to make them happy.
Most of us are in search of outstanding career achievements. Today, we have learnt three of the keys that a rare achiever uses to excel in his career. Adopt and customise them to your particular circumstances and you will surely rise and shine like Tom Botts! All the best!