Employee profile: Iona Zalissetskaia

Shipping cadet Iona joined BP in 2015. Read about her career experiences so far

What are you passionate about? (can be work or play)

I have always loved to pick apart different objects, to understand their mechanisms. When I was younger I picked apart an alarm clocks, wrist watches and household appliances, such as a washing machine.

I was not directly drawn to engineering, because I did not know what it was, so it took me some time to find my dream career, but when I discovered engineering I knew it was a discipline I could strive in.

I also love kayaking, which I started at University. I’ve kayaked in amazing places, one of the most exciting times was kayaking in a sea cave a couple of years ago. The sea kayak club was based on the Isle of Lewis in Stornoway.

Tell us about your education

I left school when I was 18 and undertook a degree in Physics and Nuclear Astrophysics at the University of Surrey. I spoke to a lot of engineers at careers fairs, which convinced me that it was a more suitable career for me, but I did not want to do just Civil Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. 

I wanted to do something a bit more hands on, so I did a credit transfer from my physics degree and did a degree in energy engineering to make sure that engineering is what I thought it was. 

Energy engineering was particularly suitable because it covered electrical and mechanical engineering as we all types of energy generation.
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How many years have you been at BP?

I joined the Cadet College in September 2015, so I have been here for a year and a few months. The training will last for roughly three and a half years.

Why did you join BP? 

Initially I wanted to work on offshore windfarms, but while doing my energy engineering course I realised that oil and gas is the future.

So I immediately thought of BP, as being the best and one of the most prominent companies in the oil and gas sector. 

I was also attracted to BP in particular, as there are so many career opportunities within the company at sea and onshore.

What are you currently woriking on? 

I am currently in phase three at college. I am studying for a foundation degree in Marine Engineering and Management. 

Therefore, we have to study a lot of rules and regulations. In this field there is a lot of legislation, particularly health & safety, which we need to be aware of during our practical work.

We also learn about mechanics and electrical engineering. We have workshops where we take apart and learn about different types of machinery that we could see on-board the ship.

What do you love about what you do?

I love the unpredictability of this job – no two days are the same. There is a lot of problem-solving and it is very stimulating. It’s not just about solving problems, but finding ways for these problems not to occur in the future, which makes it exciting.

Unusual scenarios or projects?

I never thought that I would climb into a full size ship engine. I once had the opportunity to see inside the crank case of the engine. I was surprised by the size of the engine and I learned a lot as a result of this experience.

Most surprising or ground breaking work?

The most exciting work has been the 2,000-hour maintenance of a generator, probably because I was very involved in it. We had to take off the fuel injectors and test them to make sure they were firing at the correct pressure. It was a very thorough process and with many different aspects that we had to consider. The 3rd Engineer allowed us to do some testing under supervision and explained a lot to us about the injectors and why they need maintenance.

Favourite story?

I once met some Saudi Arabian ship pilots, who came aboard to take the ship out of the gulf. It was quite strange because we weren’t sure about the cultural norms. 

However when we met them they were very friendly and offered to help us with reports that we were preparing. 
They were nothing like we were expecting. That’s the great part of this job, you get to meet people from all over the world.

What keeps you at BP and why should great talent join the company?

The training is very good, and it does not feel like just attending college. You don’t just do basic training at BP, but you go above and beyond to learn new things. We are all very well looked after by BP. 
The culture is great as everyone is very friendly. I wasn’t sure what life would be like on the ship as people are very different and come from different backgrounds, but everyone gets along great and life on the ship is never boring.

What makes you proud to work at BP?

They look after you very well. They take everything into account – our wellbeing, comfort and accommodation.  If anyone needs anything they take it really seriously – even the small things. Whether it has to do with college accommodation or hotel residence, they look after us no matter what.

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