BP is actively working to combat stereotypes that the oil and gas industry is male dominated with a limited range of roles and opportunities for women. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) enables us to be creative, competitive and thrive, as we deliver the safe and reliable energy the world needs now and in the future. As part of this effort we decided to find out how three women in BP’s trading team found themselves there and what advice they would give to other women considering their career:
Anne Devlin, Trader, BP Oil International
After growing up in France with a passion for history, maths and science, Anne attended an international business school where an encounter with BP led her to joining its ‘eurograduate’ scheme in 1996. Initially working in a retail role in Hamburg, Anne’s second placement delivered her to an operator role on the crude oil desk supporting crude traders in London, on BP’s trading floor: “My first impression of the trading floor was that it was like a beehive that I had to figure out and orientate myself with – it was very lively, very diverse and filled with lots of big characters.”
“Initially I was not sure about the hive and so, when considering ‘what next’ for my career in BP thought perhaps I would like to work on mergers and acquisitions or perhaps head back to university to study political science. My boss though suggested I consider becoming a trader and so I attended an internal ‘assessed trader course’ and was subsequently offered a job as an asset trader, handling the crude supply to refineries. Within a year I was offered a job as a frontline trader.
“I am really passionate about my work as it enables me to participate in the world’s geo-political landscape. My day to day finds me developing, and utilising, relationships with people in Russia, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt… So much of what happens around us in our lives is underpinned by the need for energy and trading of oil and gas.
“It is true there are still not many women in roles like mine but there is every reason for there to be more. Women bring a different perspective to the trading floor which enables alternative approaches and strengthens the collective capability of the team. To young women considering their career options I would say that if you have a strong sense of identity and self-worth, good commercial and analytical skills, can be resilient and handle the knock backs which everyone in trading goes through then trading could be a fantastic opportunity. You don’t need to be ‘one of the boys’, nor should you try to be – be true to yourself and the attributes that you bring to the team.
“Working at BP has also meant I have been able to maintain a balance with my personal life – I am married with two children – BP is respectful of its employees’ lives outside work.”
Svenja Schölermann, Supply Coordinator / Asset Trader
Svenja joined BP in Germany in 2006 on its trainee scheme, straight from school. The three and half year programme requires employees to work in an office role in the mornings and study for their bachelors’ degrees in the afternoons and weekends: “It was exhausting but is so cost and time efficient it makes huge sense. I graduated in 2010 with a degree in International Management.
“There were 2,000 people at the office I joined in Germany – it was a very big and challenging environment for a young school leaver to adapt to, with lots of new people to meet. The first six months felt tough but I, and the other trainees, had mentors who helped us out a lot and before long friendships begin to establish.
“After the apprenticeship I worked for 18 months in a pricing role on German retail sites before moving to a technical assistant role, assisting the site leadership team at a refinery in 2011. It was in this role I had my first interactions with IST, working on commercial projects dealing with the trading of products from the refinery. I was fascinated and keen to explore this area more in my career.
“So in 2014 I moved to IST in London. It was another very big step. The trading floor is a very different environment from any others in BP and, even though it has taken some time to orientate myself, it was the best decision ever! Sure, there are more men than women, but it was the same at the refinery so I am used to that and have learnt that it is best to embrace that difference – it is part of the value you bring and you should feel comfortable with that.
“The trading environment is fast moving and so the atmosphere can change rapidly which is something that needs a bit of getting used to. That fact accepted, working with so many quick thinking, responsible, decision making people is an amazing environment to be a part of. There is so much going on and such a variety of opportunities and challenges, therefore one day is never like another. In my role I am an interface between the traders and the refineries which provides a great opportunity to learn an enormous amount, understand how the different sides optimise and what their different drivers are.”
Hannah McLeish, Trader Graduate
Armed with an economics degree, and with a keen interest in culture, Hannah originally explored management consultancy as a career but then came across the BP Analytics Graduate Scheme: “It sounded interesting and demonstrated to me that the oil and gas industry might be a good one in which to pursue a career. I managed to get an interview but it turned out that the analytics graduate scheme was full so BP suggested I might consider its Trading Graduate Scheme instead… I came for an assessment day and ended up being offered a role.
“Joining BP straight from university was daunting but the main reason I chose BP over other employers I met was because I so enjoyed the assessment days – the organisation has a nice feel and friendly, welcoming people. IST itself is hard working and fast paced but critically also fun and supportive which is the best thing about it.
“During my first year I was on the crude oil bench mainly doing analytics and trade support. Now I have moved over to fuel oil operations, the logistics behind the movement of the oil. The responsibility I have been given is amazing, I have been relied on straight from the beginning which is immensely motivating.
“While there are a lot more men than women it is not that archetypal trading floor culture I imagined, it is actually really nice and supportive – things have moved on. And as a career it almost feels a privilege to work in an area of industry that affects so much of the everyday lives of people around the world – the trading of energy resources. I often watch international news items on the TV in the evening wondering how they will affect my work the next day – it demonstrates the very real link between the trading floor and the political and economic world around us.”
You can find more information about careers in Integrated Supply and Trading (IST) at BP here.
For more information and to apply search www.bp.com/grads/uk