Caroline Gill

Caroline Gill

Lead Geologist

Shell UK Ltd

With a 1st in geology from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh – where she undertook industry sponsored research on the structural evolution of the Northern North Sea – Caroline Gill has gone on to become an active and prominent member of the international petroleum community.

By the end of her PhD work she knew the oil & gas industry was for her. She joined Shell UK and shaped a career which led to her becoming lead geologist for its operated assets.

A past Aberdeen director of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain, Caroline is also a member of the Petroleum Group Committee of the Geological Society of London; she is a past member of the society’s Science Committee. She has presented at a range of major conferences and has had her work published in several peer reviewed journals.

I wouldn’t ever describe myself as particularly ambitious. I’ve always had quite a bit of self-doubt but then I’ve always surprised myself. I don’t think it was ambition that drove me to work so hard to get academic results; it was actually worrying that I couldn’t do it and settling for only a modest grade, but then getting something better.

In general, my way of coping with low confidence and self-doubt has been to over-prepare. I’ve given over 50 conference presentations. Initially I would have known every word that I would say; it’s only experience that has given me that bit more confidence to turn up and do it without feeling that I had clobbered it to absolute death. I’m more ambitious in my personal life: there are outdoor challenges I still aim to tackle!

“I’ve developed a love for what I see and do in my work.”

My career has fuelled my passion for the outdoors. As a geologist your core training includes fieldwork and being outside. If you couldn’t cope with being out in the rain on the isle of Arran in the middle of March, you wouldn’t get far.

“I’ve always had quite a bit of self-doubt but then I’ve OFTEN surprised myself”

It’s very rare that we have a day out (my husband is also a geologist) and we don’t talk about the rocks that we see. It’s a part of our life and has given us some really exciting opportunities.

Everyone has their own way of balancing work and family. I think the key is to be flexible; it’s what works for us. As a couple, we both have the flexibility to work at home and we can pick up any outstanding work once our children are in bed. It’s a totally equal partnership – we both do our fair share. We enjoy having a busy lifestyle, but even when we’re working long hours it doesn’t impact on family life.

I once read an excellent quote from a senior businesswoman: “Children remember mood more than the amount of time that you’re with them.” I think that’s absolutely right.

For me, quality family time is when we are all sitting around the table, laughing and learning together or we are up a mountain or on our bikes.

I want our children to grow up seeing both parents at work as the norm. I know it’s not right for everyone, but I question when someone makes a conscious decision not to work – how do they influence their children to be ambitious and understand they can go far? For me it’s important to be that role model and show my children what they can achieve.

Where educated: Girton College, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh. First job: Production Geologist, Shell UK Ltd
Advice to your 15-year-old self? Keep being flexible in your study and career choices. It’s going to make life interesting – and more enjoyable!
A moment of inspiration? One of many from the great outdoors! My personal life is dominated by outdoor activities – rock climbing, ice climbing, skiing, sea kayaking, mountain biking, wild camping.!