Project lead

Katherine Halliburton's conjoint degree showed that she was well-rounded and had more than just technical ability.

Katherine Halliburton on an oil rig

Key facts

Career: Project lead
Programme: Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
Subjects: Sociology

"I manage engineering change projects on Shell's gas production plants. These have ranged from installing monitoring equipment on offshore platforms to modifying pipelines to allow increased production.

"A project typically requires extensive planning of a job up front, including testing the business case for a project, understanding the scope and working out how long it will take and how much it will cost. Once the planning side is done and the project is approved to progress, then I'm responsible for bringing a team together to deliver the project within the promised budget and schedule.

"The main thing that I like about my job is that it's different every day. Every project has its own unique challenges and risk that it's my job to work through, and working with a large variety of stakeholders means there's always something new to learn.

"Shell hires their graduates based on behaviours and personality. When I applied for an engineering graduate position, having an Arts conjoint degree showed that I was well-rounded and had more than just technical ability. I know that this helped me to stand out in the screening rounds of the recruitment process.

"As well as this, I think the skills I learned during my degree helped me to get through the interviews, which required us to analyse options, think critically and collaborate with others.

"I gained many skills through my Arts study that are directly relevant to my job, such as having the ability to understand different perspectives and being able to construct a logical argument which takes these different perspectives into account, collaborating and negotiating with people who hold a different perspective to me, the ability to step back from a technical issue and understand the bigger picture, and the ability to contribute to my organisation's understanding and awareness of social issues.

"Studying Sociology at the University of Auckland encouraged me to get involved in phone counselling with Youthline. Years later, this has led to me being a board member for youth organisations in Taranaki. This is a great opportunity to contribute to my community in a fulfilling way, to develop my leadership skills and to work with inspiring people. It's a part of my life that I probably wouldn't have discovered if I hadn't done an Arts degree and I think it's a great example of how taking up an opportunity or pursuing an area that you're passionate about can lead to other unexpected opportunities later on."