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It’s a time of great change for the world’s energy companies. As renewable sources of energy become more desirable and readily available, the oil giants must adapt to remain competitive. For those in the driver’s seats of these companies, it takes a wealth of experience to stay on course. Fortunately, Shell Group’s Global Mobility Network Senior Vice President Min Yih Tan has a firm grip on the wheel as the company forges ahead into uncharted territory.
When the entire marketing business strategy is within your ambit, you can connect the dots to keep the portfolio on the leading edge
“It’s an honour and a great responsibility to lead enterprise acquisitions and be able to oversee 46,000 sites and 100,000 EV charge points in 80 countries around the world,” says Min Yih, who also serves as Chair of the Board for Pilipinas Shell Petroleum and is a Director of Shell Eastern Petroleum.
Min Yih, a Singaporean, began his career with Mobil – later ExxonMobil – with roles that spanned the Asia–Pacific region and the Americas. He joined Shell in 2008, moving to London in 2013 to lead the company’s global strategy, retail and commercial department, where he redefined the importance of marketing’s contribution to Shell’s growth and resilience. “When the entire marketing business strategy is within your ambit, you can connect the dots to keep the portfolio on the leading edge,” he says.
In his subsequent role in global network development, Min Yih built strong partnerships across different operating platforms and developed the retail business into a world-class investment case. “I was there for almost eight years and I’ve learnt to approach things from an end-to-end perspective and to be rigorous in decision making,” he says. “And now I’ve returned to Singapore. So yes, it’s been a privilege to have worked across three continents so far, and to be frank with you, since I joined Shell, I haven’t looked back.”
It was Min Yih’s ability to help shape the company’s direction at a pivotal juncture that allowed the team to embrace the evolving mobility landscape. “Frankly, my capital budget has tripled compared to five years ago, and that is a testament to how Shell is delivering on its commitments,” he says.
What do customers want and where do they want it, both today and in the future? I strive to answer these key questions, and it’s been both a challenge and an opportunity.
“With Shell Mobility recognised as a growth pillar within the company, one of the most exciting things for me right now is supporting our growth in the electric mobility space. This is important as we need a coherent transition in order to tackle climate change while continuing to generate commercial value.”
Since 2018, as Senior Vice President of Shell’s Global Mobility Network, Min Yih has been focused on fundamental issues that are impacting the industry. “What do customers want and where do they want it, both today and in the future? I strive to answer these key questions and it has been both a challenge and an opportunity,” he says. “It’s not just about generating shareholder value; it’s also about net-zero emissions, the environment and the community. All these elements are well encapsulated in our Powering Progress strategy.”
Powering Progress is guiding Shell’s transition towards decarbonisation and sustainability. Taking into account variations in societal readiness in markets around the world, this strategy has led Shell Mobility to add lower-emissions products and services, including electric vehicle charging, biofuels, liquified natural gas and hydrogen. Shell is also preparing for the future by leveraging its strong brand, assets, technology and, in particular, its people. While Min Yih is proud of the advances made to date, he also acknowledges that the transition is a work in progress.
“What’s happened over the past 12 or 18 months is a bottom-up approach to what strategically we want to do at Shell,” he says. “And believe it or not, Shell Mobility is now a growth pillar for the entire Shell Group.
“One of the most exciting things for me now is supporting our growth in the electric mobility space,” he says. “This is important as we need a coherent transition in order to tackle climate change, while continuing to generate commercial value.”
It can be a double-edged sword, he adds, but the silver lining is that it provides a method of transition. “We have the capabilities in our assets, in our brand, in our technology,” he says. “That means we’re able to forge a transition that’s sustainable not just from an environmental standpoint, but also commercially. Because after all, it’s an enterprise that needs to deliver on the financial front.”
On a personal level, Min Yih says there’s a greater significance to the work he’s doing now. “To be able to lead this transition for a global company as a Singaporean is a heavy responsibility, but it’s also an enormous privilege.”
It’s about walking the talk and opening the mind to more imagination.
While Min Yih wears a number of hats at Shell, he draws satisfaction from every one he wears. “I enjoy both business and corporate roles as they are complementary,” he says. “It’s about walking the talk and opening the mind to more imagination.”
At the same time, the balance between profitability and sustainability that can be maintained in the long-term is another sweet spot Min Yih is working towards. “We want to tackle all carbon emissions, whether they’re generated by our operations or whatever we’re selling. It’s not a one-year, one-off exercise either; it’s something we require the resilience and patience to overcome because we want to make this a profitable business in the long-term.”
Right now, as an organisation that champions diversity, we have become a magnet for talent.
That growth has made Shell into a company prepared for the future, not only because of its infrastructure, but because of its people. With a solid, reshaped team in place since August of last year, Min Yih says the future is looking bright, and he’s keen to seize opportunities despite the imminent changes facing the industry. “Right now, as an organisation that champions diversity and inclusion, we have become a magnet for talent,” he says. “I’m looking for top-calibre people from both within and beyond the energy sector.”
On a personal level, Min Yih is finding great meaning in the work he is doing. “To lead transformation in a global company is exhilarating. We need to step-up and deliver on an agenda that is important to all stakeholders. We also need to be progressive and play to our strengths. For me, that’s where the fun begins.”