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An innovative engineering journey with BP: Rachael’s story

Published:
19 December 2019
Rachael Reid joined BP on the Wells Challenger Programme in 2013 and was a judge on the panel of this year’s Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards
Rachel Reid in conversation with BP employees

Growing up, Rachael didn’t know much about engineering. Things changed when she joined a STEM deep dive programme with NASA at secondary school. She then got in touch with BP’s Early Engagement Committee during her Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde.

 

Looking back, Rachael says: “Speaking to companies and female role models about engineering made the profession and career path more tangible. I got a better understanding of engineers’ significance in society, and I also started appreciating engineering as a creative and altruistic profession.” 

 

The diversity of engineering at BP

 

Rachael has been with BP for six years. Following a 10-week internship, she started off in Upstream as a completions engineer, designing wells and the production systems that are used to extract oil and gas from reservoirs. After graduating Challenge, she was the completions engineer for the Clair Ridge Development, which she really enjoyed working on: “This was one of our major projects globally. I had the chance to work on a world first technology development which allows us to monitor real time how our reservoirs are performing. This has a massive potential for the oil and gas industry going forward.”

 

In 2019, Rachael relocated to London for a business role with a low-carbon focus. Rachael’s team manages the company's strategy around low-carbon and how to take the company forward in the energy transition, working closely with all business segments in building their low carbon strategies.

 

Although I am now in an office role, my time offshore definitely continues to inform my current work. It was really important in helping me develop a core understanding of the mechanics of the business, which I don't think I would have got if I had started off at a desk job. It is important to go out and have that operational exposure

Promoting engineering

 

There are still many incorrect stereotypes out there around engineering. Rachael’s observations are that people still see it as a very mechanical, number-crunching profession, but instead it is very creative and innovative, and requires problem-solving skills, teamwork and a dynamic outlook. Rachael adds: “Engineering underpins so many parts of our society, the energy system is just one example. In order to solve some of the big questions that we have as a society, we need engineers. But we also need people from diverse backgrounds to bring that creativity into the discipline, so it’s important that we can better attract talent from all sections of society so that we can get that diverse talent represented.”

 

That’s why Rachael has been very active in supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives at BP. She used to lead the Women in Wells network in Aberdeen and supported female discovery weeks and regularly goes out on campus to speak to young women. 

 

This year, Rachael joined the panel of judges at this year’s IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards: “I think that these awards are an important platform for showcasing the diversity and talent that we have within engineering, but also the diversity of the experiences that are available.”