My new career as an author

Having carved out a successful career with Shell, one financial expert has swapped numbers for letters.

By her own admission, Moira McPartlin wasted time at school. Yet she went on to carve out a hugely-successful career with Shell, becoming a high flyer in the finance section and clocking up thousands of miles as she crossed the globe. She’s now embarking on another career, that of full-time writer, with the publication of her first novel, The Incomers, this month. “I grew up in the village of Carnock in Fife and as I loved animals, dreamed of being a vet one day,” said Moira, 53. “I worked in a local kennels every summer from the age of 12 but kind of went off the rails as a teenager and failed my highers. I left school; got a job as a vet’s assistant; married young and had two sons and for many years was a housewife, but then I got divorced and everything changed.” Realising there were gaps in her education, Moira worked during the day and, in the evenings, went to night school. “It was pretty hard being a single parent, and at time it was horrendous, so I’d say my story is a bit of a success,” said Moira. “I was working for CR Smith but was quite ambitious and wanted to get on so moved to the Shell Business Services Centre in Glasgow.” The centre was the first in a chain of six service centres providing a wide range of finance, accounting and other business or customer services to Shell operating comapnies globally. Her career took off from there thanks to hard work. From small beginnings – and still undertaking a night school business degree at Stirling University – she worked through the ranks, becoming global process manager for accounts payable. “I was responsible for ensuring every Shell bill in the world was paid in the same way which involved knowing a lot about cultural differences,” said Moira. “Being part of a global team was brilliant and I really enjoyed my job but it involved a lot of travelling. ”To give me something to do while travelling I began writing and attended a writing class at Strathclyde University. I had a brilliant tutor who didn’t mind me missing classes as long as I handed in assignments. ”I had a great job and was making good money but I’d remarried by then and felt I wasn’t spending enough time with my family. I also wanted to do more writing as I felt I had something to say, so in 2005 gave up my career with Shell Oil to concentrate on writing”. Moira now lives in Stirlingshire with her husband Colin, and when not writing is a keen hill walker and mountaineer who enjoys playing the guitar and whistle. She’s had many short stories and poems published but The Incomers is a novel that tells the story of Ellie, a young black African who comes to live in a Scottish mining village in 1966, and draws deep parallels between the cultures of West Africa and Scotland. She offers this advice to those who feel stuck in a career rut, “I don’t regret not doing well at school as it gave me a completely different life,” said Moira, who is now a grandmother of two. “I was 40 before I graduated with a business degree from Stirling University. It was an enriching experience as by then I was disciplned and able to study, which I wouldn’t have been able to do when I was younger. I did everything backwards and it was hard work, but what I’d like to tell others is, it’s never too late to go back to school.” This article was originally written for Press and Journal.. The Incomers is available to buy from 29 March at

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