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Applying my degree: Han’s story

21 September 2020
Vietnamese graduate Han talks about her experiences on the bp challenger programme and how she was able to apply her degree in her day-to-day work

How did the one-year Challenger Program help you in succeeding in your career?

Vietnamese challenger Han Nguyen Ngoc

It equips me with both soft and technical skills that I need in my career development plan by getting on the job experience with operational processes, projects and observing and learning from industrial SMEs. I’ve had multiple opportunities to use my degree and apply the theory.

I have been able to connect with many leaders and senior colleagues from various countries and functions. These interactions have developed me in my career journey to date.

Have you always known how you wanted your career to develop?


I’ve always had a good idea of how I wanted my career to develop. I’ve had some great learning experiences during my Challenger year and this has also opened me up to other career paths too. The great thing about the programme is that you get lots of broad exposure. My mentor who is also my line manager supports me very much that he is pleased to accept my frequent invitation for continuous performance conversation to review my PDP and my career path.


What are the most significant development opportunities that you have experienced?


I’ve had some great opportunities to plan and lead some events for the global and local leadership team’s participation. This taught me great project management skills and how to work with senior stakeholders.


What are the leadership and technical skills that have contributed most to your success?


Communication skills are really key in everything you do. By communicating with stakeholders you develop influencing skills and that has been very important during my Challenger year. I have developed relationships with peers and stakeholders and this has enabled me to get tasks done efficiently but also achieve common goals.


At times, challenging peers and stakeholders can be tricky

Which skills have you found most challenging to develop? How did you tackle these?


At times, challenging peers and stakeholders can be tricky. This can be overcome by building relationships and when challenging their opinion, also making them feel that they have been heard.
Also, I have had to work on my presenting skills and working up the confidence to present in front a large audience. I spent a lot of time practicing and also getting constructive feedback from peers and stakeholders on the content of my presentation. The time slot I had was shorty and I had a lot that I needed to include!


Is there a defining moment that has impacted your career?


Working with different stakeholders has been a great experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with different cultures and it has developed me immensely. It’s been very interesting understanding the different ways of working and languages and how to best communicate. By having these experiences, this has developed me into a well rounded communicator.


Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?


I would say asking lots of questions and understanding the purpose behind each piece of work. From asking the why, it gets you to think more broadly and how you apply the knowledge that you are learning.


Which role stands out as having contributed most to your personal growth?


When I was a Global Supply Chain (GSC) performance coordinator role where I facilitated and coordinated transformation workshops, monthly GSC performance reviews and global projects. With these accountabilities, I was able to connect and approach with cross-functional team members and team leaders. This strongly enhance my interpersonal skills and improve my leadership behaviour skills.


There is Vietnamese popular saying “a young ox learns to plow from an older one"

How important has coaching/mentoring been in your career?


There is Vietnamese popular saying “a young ox learns to plow from an older one”. Teachers are a candle that burns itself to light the way for students to follow. The same applies to mentoring/coaching at BP, without the guidance of my mentor and my coaches, I wouldn’t be able to progress as much as I have. To simply explain that mentor is the person that follow you along your way to hold you up when you are down and take you back when you are lost. I definitely feel like I’ve had the guidance and support to succeed at BP.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to develop their career in sales/HSSE/GSC/Marketing/Operations?


My key advice is to be open minded and get as much broad experience as you can across the business. No matter where you are from and where you want to reside in the future, a thorough understanding about the business from supplier to customer, from GSC to business is a “should”. Broad expertise helps any decision makings in the future.


How important has networking been in developing your career?


As mentioned above, networking brings positive impact on my career. Networking helps not only for continuous improvement mindset but also lesson learnt/best practice transfer to each other. For example, we are creating new locations in the JDE stock management system and it is the first time Vietnam has this practice.

Luckily, I know a colleague in Thailand so I was able to reach out to her for advice on what they did in Thailand. Possessing a broad network is like possessing a valuable asset, the more you invest, the more you earn. Listening to different people can bring you a different point of view.

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