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Activating transformation and change: Em’s story

5 July 2023

Em Wilson was attracted to the energy industry by a desire to work with intelligent people, contribute to interesting projects and deliver an essential service for people all around the world

Em Wilson

After hearing positive feedback from a wide range of former bp employees, Em decided to research the early careers opportunities available in commercial and downstream roles at bp and found that the graduate programme had six and half thousand other applicants for approximately four roles. She thought it would be a good challenge – and overcame the odds to be successful!


She joined bp in 2012 as a graduate business analyst, initially supporting Castrol’s UK retail business. She was responsible for supporting large retailers such as Tesco and Asda, with the coordination of marketing strategy, pricing procurement and supply chain logistics, and within months she became a joint key account manager for B&Q. 


This was also the role which presented Em with the first strategic transformation project of her career: the introduction of SAP software solutions at bp. Em played a key role in updating the order to cash process and managing the training of Castrol’s teams to ensure her colleagues felt empowered by the technology during the transition.


The following year, Em shifted to become a buyer responsible for the chilled and non-food category across 400 retail points, including those operated in partnership with M&S. 


Looking back, I was 25 years old and managing £6.8 million worth of turnover for bp!

 she recalls.


It was an incredibly empowering experience. Developing people is something bp does very well. You just have to grasp every opportunity you’re given with both hands!

Em’s final rotation on the programme was focused on strategic transformation, as a project portfolio analyst for Castrol’s Europe and Africa regions. Internally and externally, Em reported the commercial risk and resource implications of strategic projects, whilst leading two of her own transformation projects in the Nordics and Turkey. She was also heavily involved in the reorganisation of Castrol’s UK business and the move of Castrol’s head office in 2014.

Em standing next to the Burmese cat statue

Reflecting on this role, Em notes that the highlight was the sheer diversity of its remit:


Every day our team was presented with a new challenge! One example is when we transported a group of Burmese cat statues, originally gifted from Castrol in Myanmar, to Castrol’s technology centre in Pangbourne. Organising the ceremony with the support of Buddhist monks to respectfully move the statues to our new location was a key highlight.


Digital communications to drive change


After a short tenure in bp’s global social media team, Em decided to move on from bp in 2016 to focus her career on marketing and communications consulting. She now acts as a strategic advisor supporting senior leadership teams across Fortune and FTSE 150 companies and specialises in guiding corporate and cultural transformation through digital marketing and social media.


Looking back on her time at bp, Em recognises that the key skill she was able to develop was her ability to help businesses perform whilst transforming. Providing business intelligence to support business strategy and determining the necessary actions to achieve organisational goals is something she now considers every day in her current position.


I always enjoyed creating a sense of identity, purpose and joint ownership in teams – how do we create the trifecta of maximising resource, developing capability and ensuring a return on investment? I still pass on key learnings from my experience and training at bp with the mentees I have today.

Championing knowledge-sharing and collaboration


Mentorship and passing on knowledge to the next generation of leaders has always been front of mind for Em. While at bp, Em was particularly proud of the opportunities she received at an early stage of her career to travel and speak with incoming graduates and leaders about her experiences and diversity across the company – in terms of thought, personality and culture. 


“Speaking at events and facilitating workshops was where I discovered my true passion for cultural change, as well as the power of clear internal and external communications,” she mentions.


This included events organised by bp’s Women’s International Network, as well as those focused on championing bp’s values and behaviours. Em was an active internal ambassador for these values and behaviours and led multiple face-to-face and virtual workshops for bp and Castrol’s leadership teams across the world to promote best practice behaviours that aligned with bp’s culture. 


“They say culture eats strategy for breakfast, I see them more as two sides of the same coin. You need both for peak performance, as well as a real understanding of stakeholder engagement,” Em explains. 


Even though I am no longer with bp, I still check up on what the company is doing. It’s fantastic to see how bp is responding to the energy trilemma and leading from the front on the energy transition. I feel privileged to have had the experiences and role models which I had while at both bp and Castrol. Now as an alumnus, I watch on with immense pride!

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