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FDM Everywoman in Technology awards

16 March 2021

Four inspiring women, all finalists for the FDM Everywoman in Technology awards, share their stories of the pioneering work they’ve done at bp

Using innovative technologies such as VR, AI and the cloud, all four are driving forward solutions that help bp and society at large build a safer and more sustainable future

'I've been encouraged to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone'

Carolina Hickey, product owner – digital transformation 

After first joining bp at 19, working in the sales office of what was previously bp Chemicals Plastec, Carolina left to join an investment bank’s IT team. But, when an old bp colleague reached out with an opportunity Carolina says: “I jumped at the chance to work at bp again, and in IT, which is one of my passions. I’ve now been here for 17 years, and part of the digital foundations team for four years, currently working on the digital transformation of our application estate.” She explains her role means she’s accountable for making sure that bp’s application estate is migrated to the cloud. “It’s been a big shift in behaviour and mindset.”


The work Carolina and her team are doing directly enables bp’s purpose of reimagining energy.  She says


Our work has enabled thousands of bp employees to access the cloud securely and provides a foundation for bp’s digital transformation. Closing the physical data centres supports bp’s net zero ambitions, because it reduces our carbon footprint and modernises the IT landscape, meaning we’re more flexible for growth and change.

Carolina describes the support she’s had from bp over her career, particularly in terms of developing new skills:


bp’s supported me in learning about new technologies and developing skills through courses for practical purposes, but also soft skills such as leadership training. I’m grateful to have been given the space to learn and the trust to put those new skills into action in my day-to-day role.

This trust and encouragement is something Carolina finds empowering. 



I’ve been encouraged to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone to achieve my full potential, while also knowing support is there if needed. That’s something I’ve found really empowering.


Through bp’s mentoring programmes, Carolina’s had the opportunity to share her experiences with school children of all ages. “Being able to help them develop life skills such as confidence, and shape their thinking for their future careers has been incredibly rewarding”, she says. Carolina’s been involved in several different initiatives, but one that she particularly recalls was a session about the different types of jobs men and women can do. “It was fascinating to see their preconceptions and challenge them. When doing their final presentations, every single boy said that the stand-out thing they’d learned was that men and women can do the same jobs. It was a powerful message to have helped teach them.”


The culture at bp is a supportive place where Carolina says,


I feel like I can be authentically me.

She describes her international and diverse team with pride: “my team at the moment is mostly women, which can be unusual in tech. I really enjoy the unique perspectives people bring to the table across different genders and cultures.” Managing teams across continents comes with its own challenges, such as varying time zones. However, Carolina believes any team can be successful with the right support. She says “I always meet with team members 1-2-1 to understand their individual personalities and ways of working and to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. If someone has a quieter voice, I will try to bring them into conversations and ensure everyone is respectful, so they feel comfortable expressing their opinion.” 


Ultimately, it’s the diversity of thought that makes for a successful team, working across multiple countries. 


We all see the world through a unique lens. That’s what creates the diversity of thought that enables us to deliver digital solutions that work across bp’s global business. Our uniqueness should be encouraged so we’re all comfortable bringing our authentic selves to work.

Thinking differently about data

Dionne Haynes, chief architect for B2B customer & product 

Dionne Haynes

It was a combination of circumstance and lifelong passion that led Dionne to bp. “One of the things that I learned at school was the refining of oil and the many products that can be created from one single substance. Something about it always stayed with me”. Thirty years on and several industries later, she found herself “missing that family feeling, that sense of culture, which I came to find in bp.” Having heard about bp’s culture from an acquaintance, she felt it was the right time to seek out an opportunity with bp. Now, she says “bp feels like the right home for me”.


Dionne and her team design solutions to big, complex problems using technology and data to drive operational performance and revenue growth. Dionne explains that for example, “data allows us to trace our materials. By applying AI and analytics, it carries the potential to understand impact throughout a materials entire life cycle, and make changes throughout to minimise environmental impact.” 


Data collection is a vital part of driving forward bp’s new ambition, as Dionne explains:   



There’s a foundation of information you need to have to drive forward future strategy. You can’t think ahead to where you want to go without first understanding where you are now. To do that, we need to start capturing data now. We need to be thinking about the points of data collection that we need, which form the stepping stones that will help us get to the future we want, in an informed, efficient and sustainable way.


For Dionne, it’s her holistic and collaborative way of thinking that helps her identify these crucial data-capture moments. “I think differently”, she explains. This is something she attributes in part to her background in gaming. “I was brought up on board games and I’ve carried that on through my whole life, so my children have been brought up on board games too. Even through lockdown, we’ve continued to play as a family online.” Dionne also does online computer gaming, which she came to later in life. “It teaches you how to be part of and manage a large team, to set and celebrate small goals whilst working towards a final outcome that’s in the common interest.”


Underpinning everything is the support she’s received at bp. “I’ve had some very good mentors and line managers who’ve really helped me to find myself. I’ve found people who have been inspirational, and who have given me the trust and responsibility to take opportunities and try new things.”


This support is something she wants to continue to carry forward “I do have a particular interest in mentoring women. I think it can be hard for women to feel confident in technology, but energy technology can be even harder. I have an open door. If anyone wants to ask a question or have a sounding board, I’m there.”

‘You have a real opportunity to make an impact’

Kavitha Rajasekharan, software engineering specialist

For Kavitha, joining bp was an opportunity to be part of our digital transformation journey. More than that, she wanted to learn about and develop skills in new technologies. “I’ve always had a passion for learning about new technologies and leveraging them to make businesses more sustainable, and at bp, I’ve been given those opportunities. Before coming to bp, I had no experience with the cloud for example, but now we’re looking to go even beyond the cloud and look for newer and more efficient technologies. 


She values having the opportunity to share what she’s learned, participating in school visits and career programmes to discuss her experiences with the next generation. “I find sharing my experiences with young people interesting and fulfilling. I don’t just want to give myself knowledge and skills, I want to share them with other people in the industry, or who are looking to get into the industry. I want to live by the saying that if you educate a woman, you’re not just educating her, you’re educating her family and the communities she’s a part of. You have a real opportunity to make an impact.” 


The diversity of the company is another thing that Kavitha’s embraced:



bp is such a diverse company, we have people from all over the world and from different cultures that we interact with on a daily basis. Working here, you get to learn about, understand and adapt to different cultures and explore your best ways of working collaboratively and productively.

Kavitha’s role involves ensuring our technologies and systems are as efficient as possible. She says that implementing new technologies brings the opportunity to re-examine our use of resources. “It makes us think and change our mindset about how we use them. This means we’re becoming more aware of what we’re using and how we can cut down unnecessary usage, becoming more efficient and minimising the impact we have on the environment.”

Kavitha Rajasekharan

Building digital solutions that improve global aviation safety 

Shruti Gupta, principal portfolio manager, consumer platforms (B2C)

Shruti Gupta
I started off at bp as an external consultant but joined because I was really impressed by the company’s values-driven culture. It helped that these values are very much aligned with my own, so I felt, and still feel, very comfortable bringing my whole self to work every day.

 Since joining bp, Shruti’s worked on a number of exciting projects including an airfield automation platform for bp’s aviation business. “Safety is our top priority, and the consequences of delivering the wrong grade of fuel to an aircraft can be catastrophic. Misfuelling is a significant risk in the aviation industry. We wanted to find a solution, so used innovative technology to create the ‘safe2go’ mobile application involving real-time integration with airfield-based refuelling hardware to provide an engineering barrier, greatly reducing the misfuelling risk.” The app Shruti and her team created is now live in more than 280 airports in over 25 countries.  She adds “we hope this is a solution that will contribute to aviation safety globally, not just in bp.” 


In her current role, Shruti’s helping drive forward bp’s ambition of reimagining energy: “My goal is to build consumer platforms underpinned by bp’s new sustainability framework, which focus on the three main areas; getting to net zero, caring for our planet, and improving people’s lives.”


Shruti says the support she’s received at bp has played an important role in her development and success so far:

I’ve had excellent training, led by world-class instructors which has really helped me understand best practice in the industry. Above all, the leadership team has empowered me to experiment in how to deliver outcomes in the most efficient way. The support has helped me learn and grow at a much faster pace than my peers in the industry- I don’t think others get that level of flexibility to try things and test the waters.

Shruti explains that the support she’s received is indicative of the culture at bp, which she describes as very fulfilling. She adds that “Respecting diversity and being inclusive are values I’ve seen demonstrated by every employee I’ve worked with, and most importantly, are actively promoted and demonstrated by the leadership, right from Bernard Looney down. It’s really encouraging to see that when you speak up with a good idea, they listen and take action.” 


For Shruti, diversity isn’t just something to be valued in the workplace, it’s an essential part of delivering successful, global digital products. “If you are building a product for a large, diverse audience, you need a team that reflects those customers. You need a team that is diverse in thought, as well as action, and can build products that are truly global and appeal to a wide range of people.”

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