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Inspiring others with a life-long passion for engineering: Elizabeth’s story

25 June 2020
With bp’s support, Elizabeth channels her passion for science and engineering to introduce schoolchildren to these subjects

Elizabeth was ten years old when she decided that she wanted to be an engineer. “My dad was an engineer, so I got exposed to the profession early on. I loved maths and I’m a problem-solver at heart, so engineering was the perfect fit for me,” she explains. 


After finishing her master’s degree in Engineering Science from Oxford University, Elizabeth initially wanted to work in internal combustion engine design. But when she discovered the energy field, she changed her mind:

I remember being fascinated by the integration of engineering with rocks and other natural elements, and the enormous scale of the projects within the energy industry. I applied to bp’s graduate scheme – and I have been with the company ever since!

Developing a multi-disciplinary team with a highly diverse portfolio 


Today, Elizabeth is a lead reservoir engineer in the North Sea region. The Central North Sea team manages a diverse portfolio with over 20 different reservoirs spanning the whole value chain – from new opportunities to mature fields. Elizabeth is responsible for managing the team’s reservoir engineering workplan to support all these different projects.


“Day-to-day, I work with a multi-disciplinary team made up of engineers, geologists, geophysicists and petrophysicists. Every field is different: I may work on five different reservoirs per day, so there’s a constant mindset switch.” 


With 23 years of experience at bp, Elizabeth’s role is now increasingly also about talent development and sharing best practice. She explains: “At some point in your career, you stop focusing on yourself and start developing those around you. I’m enjoying this new responsibility too.”


Modelling what can’t be seen 


One of the most fascinating parts of Elizabeth’s job is the modelling techniques used by her teams. “We work on reservoirs that are thousands of metres below the surface, which means that you cannot see or touch them. To decide whether to drill, we use seismic imaging to understand the reservoirs’ shapes and properties.”  


When proposing to develop fields based on such sparse data, managing the uncertainty and designing a robust risk management plan is fundamental. “bp is a leader when it comes to computing capacity and software, so we’re able to create thousands of different realisations and a probabilistic range of outcomes. With that, we can then test how robust a proposed development is.”


Inspiring the next generation of engineers 


Growing up around an engineer, Elizabeth got exposure to the industry early on. But she’s aware that not everyone is as lucky as she was. With bp’s support, she channels her passion for science and engineering to introduce schoolchildren to these subjects. 


“Our workshops include visiting the bp office with the children. On one of these visits, I recently heard one of the kids say: “I want to work for bp when I grow up.” It’s so exciting to hear this enthusiasm and to know that our work is inspiring the next generation.” 


Indeed, Elizabeth highlights the importance of role models. While admitting that more female representation is needed in the engineering industry, she’s grateful for bp’s inclusive and respectful culture. 

I’ve worked part time since I had my children, and even years ago bp was open to flexible working arrangements. For anyone entering the industry, it’s important to have female role models at various levels, and to realise how supportive bp is in helping its employees achieve the work-life balance that works best for them.

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