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From ‘Employee Spotlight’: Hugh Mitchell, Royal Dutch Shell Group HR Director

Hugh Mitchell Royal Dutch Shell Group HR Director

Employee Spotlight: Hugh Mitchell, Royal Dutch Shell Group HR Director

This section features a pen portrait of one of our colleagues in each issue.

In this issue we will take a closer look at Hugh Mitchell – Shell HR Director.

Tell us a little bit about your career

Since joining Shell in 1979 my career has principally been within Human Resources. My experience is evenly split between the upstream and downstream with assignments in E&P in Aberdeen and Brunei as well as within downstream refineries in the UK.  From 1995 – 1997 I led HR for Shell’s newly created Global Trading and Shipping business and from 1997 – 2003 I was Human Resources Director for Shell’s global Oil Products business. More recently (2003-2005) I held the position of Director, International Directorate.  As one of the Groups Corporate Directors, I led a small, specialist team providing regional and country advice, international Government relations co-ordination, and cross business integration.In March 2005 I became HR Director.

This variety of experience, I believe, has given me a firm foundation for the journey ahead in my role as HR Director. With my career being heavily weighted towards operational roles, I am a passionate proponent of business being at the centre of HR thinking.

What excites you about HR?

The lack of predictability is what excites me about HR. People dynamics are the key element when things go well and when they go badly. HR is an area where there is space for passion as well as logic.

While HR has many hard technical elements (pay, competence, pensions, assessment etc), they have to be harnessed to the more opaque elements of culture, inclusiveness, leadership and motivation to deliver success in HR. Getting the cocktail right is a most stimulating challenge.

On a personal note

I was born and educated in central Scotland and graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in History. I’m married to Linda and we have two children who are now in their early 20’s. I continue to be active in many sports – in particular I enjoy tennis, football, hill walking, and skiing. (Comment from the editors: We have learned that a few weeks ago, on the morning of The Hague City-Pier-City run, Hugh received an early morning call inviting him to take someone else’s spot in the 10 K run, which he spontaneously did. Very impressive!)

I love to draw on simple metaphors or examples from history when trying to explain HR concepts. To understand a Company, a country, a race or an individual, firstly you have to know their history. It has shaped who they are today and what they aspire for tomorrow. Being willing to understand and respect that history is a key part of building employee affiliation and Company culture. Sport, particularly team sport, is something most people can relate to. It proves to be a great vibrant medium to understand leadership, teamwork, motivation, strategy and many other aspects of HR work. Maybe it’s just an excuse to watch lots of sport on TV!

Some words from Hugh

Welcome to the first Group HR Newsletter. With this Newsletter, which will be published bi-monthly, we can keep each other informed about developments across our function. The Newsletter will publish articles and announcements that are of interest to the broad HR community, and will provide an open platform for discussion. It will offer a great opportunity to share stories and get to know more about the work that others are doing.  Also in this issue, check out the official Name the Newsletter competition.

We are all part of a truly global organisation, which is in an exciting phase of its development. This Newsletter is intended to be a reflection of the many ways in which HR touches the business, everywhere in Shell.

Hugh Mitchell
Director – Human Resources and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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