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Thailand graduate career story: Chalisa

03 August 2020
Graduate Chalisa discusses the bp Challenger Programme and what skills she found the most challenging to develop

How did the one-year Challenger programme help you succeed in your career?


This programme allowed me to discover my true potential and broaden my perspective across different functions.


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


To be honest, I haven’t made a final decision on that. What I can say is that being a part of the programme gave me a good insight on how I want my career to develop.


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


The opportunity to work closely with experts from different business functions and learn from them both technically and commercially. 


I rotated through several different areas and worked on projects involving both internal and external parties from all levels: customers, suppliers, agency partners, the bp team overseas as well as the Thailand country team lead.  


These differing points of view, challenges and ways of working provided me with priceless experience and moreover the inspiration to keep advancing with a positive mindset.


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


I think my interpersonal skills have contributed to my success thus far. Communication, relationship building, empathic listening and finding common ground are now very important to me. But also, honesty and courage – people aren’t always going to agree, and you must be able to find ways to resolve differences in opinion and, as I said, to find a common ground. To be honest, without these skills, I think I would have struggled on the graduate programme. 


I feel I’m also strong in project management and research skills. I use project management fundamentals, problem solving / decision making tools and techniques to inform my decisions on any project that I am involved in.  These techniques provide qualitive data that I can use to recommend enhancements and improvements to process and delivery. Finally, my background in engineering has contributed a great deal. It goes without saying, but if you’re working for Castrol, the more technical knowledge relating to lubricants you bring to the table, the better the products you can provide for the customer base.


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


The truth is that I’ve always been straightforward person: some might even say blunt - and that can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Giving direct and to-the-point feedback can cause offence in Thai culture. So, I’ve had to learn how adjust my approach and recognize the value in different perspectives. I sought out and received great advice from my bp mentors on this. 


Not to say that I won’t be honest, but I have learned a lot about compromise and how to make different approaches work to deliver the best results for a project. 


Another area where I’ve developed is in data analysis. Nowadays, we’re dealing with “big data” and to get the most out of it, your analytics skills must be top-notch. Development is a huge part of the Challenger Programme – I am enrolled on the bp digital skills course so that I can maximize my potential in this arena.


Is there a defining moment that has impacted your career?


Well, when I joined the graduate trainee programme, it was in a sales position – so my first project was researching sales activity in the Castrol industrial business unit.  
When I completed the presentation of my first project – i.e. the research above, I was given three more projects – at the same time! They were all sales related but they were more about analytics and market insight – how to identify challenges and convert them to opportunities or us this research to inform new ideas and business strategies.


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


On the graduate trainee programme? No – definitely not. I’ve learned so much and developed both professionally and personally.


Going back further though, I would – if I could – add learning Japanese to my core education. Many of Castrol’s industrial customers in the automotive sector are Japanese and having their language under my belt would have enhanced my contribution to my team both during the programme itself and now in my current role as a technical support engineer.


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


Definitely my marketing role in the B2C area. It’s one thing being the techie sales engineer and looking at the tech info and hard numbers. But the marketing role involves all sorts of people from all sorts of different areas which, as I have said, really helped me develop interpersonal skills and has contributed towards my personal growth.


Practically, it exposed me to understanding customer needs and the “bigger picture” of mass communication. It’s fascinating really and has really sparked an interest in me on how B2C works.


How important has coaching/mentoring been in your career? 


Hugely. Without the guidance of my mentors, I wouldn’t have succeeded as a graduate trainee. But that’s why they are mentors – they have the experience that a graduate doesn’t and can help, advise and guide you through new experiences. Honestly, I’m happy to be part of the “bp family” – it’s a great place to work!



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