Look to the Future to Succeed Today


YLDP Houston students with Mike Curtin.

By Niharika Pakala

HOUSTON: On February 3, at India House, members of the Youth Leadership Development Program had the incredible honor of meeting Mike Curtin, the Vice President of Capital Project at Shell Oil Company.

Mike Curtin opened his presentation by introducing the prevailing energy challenges that have risen as a result of global rapid population growth, and the long term plan that Shell has started to implement in order to combat them. He explained the importance of looking ahead to effectively plan for the future while being efficient and resourceful. He referenced the energy transitions Shell is currently undertaking, from oil to liquefied natural gas, to explain the importance of adapting to the changing world, and evolving alongside society to ensure long term success.


Mike Curtin, the Vice President of Capital Projects at Shell Oil Company.

Curtin’s presentation revolved around the central message: “culture outweighs strategy.” Conflicting cultural mindsets are the differences in how people think and react to the dynamic world. Curtin revealed how good leaders will not try to change the technology, but rather learn how to leverage the technology to bring about success. These leaders influence others by connecting with them, and having a compelling purpose to drive change for the greater good. Their positive outlook on life allows them to recognize how not every failure should result in success, but rather a lesson to learn from. Their vulnerability and self awareness is what allows them to excel in life.

As high schoolers training to enter the professional world, Curtin’s speech gave us invaluable insight on how to emulate the leaders we all aspire to be. Staying positive while collaborating with peers comes with effort and maturity, both of which are imperative for success. Even outside an academic environment, being the smartest person in the room will only hinder us more than it will help us. It was only after Curtin’s presentation when our group realized how easy it really is to be a leader in our everyday lives.

Ultimately, planning for the future, connecting with our peers, and living with purpose are the keys to becoming the leaders of a successful tomorrow.