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Making a difference in the workplace and local community: Heather’s story

Published:
27 April 2020
Heather Lewis found a new love for learning on bp's graduate programme

Heather would be the first to admit that she didn’t like school – as she puts it “the education system did not sit amazingly well with me!” After graduating, Heather joined her university’s Career Trackers programme, where she completed two separate bp internships; one in retail, where she assisted the team in opening up new bp retail sites, and a second in ‘Loyalty and Insights’.


From then on it was smooth sailing, as Heather progressed straight into the bp Graduate Programme in Melbourne. “Once I was in the workplace I realised that I actually do like learning”, she says. “Being in an environment where I could see the results of the logic I was applying on the job made it clear that school is nothing like the workplace”.

 

Finding her feet in a finance role


As Heather notes, her first rotation on the Graduate Programme was “much more numbers-based and analytical than I was used to” and consequently, it was a “big learning curve”.

 

In the end, it proved to Heather that she has a love for numbers and encouraged her to pursue a role outside of her comfort zone, as a mid-stream performance support graduate.   

 

 

My first rotation gave me the opportunity to learn things that I would never have otherwise. I was able to learn about financial tools and make decisions around investment cases, and so being in the role helped me realise how important it is to have an in-depth financial understanding

 Put simply, Heather’s work now is all about using data to make bp more efficient. “My job is to provide insight into how the business is doing, and think up ways that we can improve”, she says. In finance, this involves managing a lot of working capital, foreign exchanges, and optimising trading value to ensure that fuel is safely and efficiently supplied out to bp terminals across the country.


When thinking about her role, it’s this ‘big picture’ element that Heather values.

 

In mid-stream, you really get to see how bp is approaching its net zero ambition and the effect that my work has on our operations and infrastructure

Working towards Reconciliation


In addition to her work, Heather finds time to get involved in projects that she loves. “Outside of work, I’m probably most passionate about community”, Heather says. “This is something I have tried to incorporate into my time at bp, especially with regards to Australia’s indigenous community. I find it fascinating to see how you can leverage a large organisation to do good and help self-empower people”.


RAP is bp’s Reconciliation Action Plan, a document which outlines how bp plans to work towards equality for the indigenous community of Australia, and Heather sits on the RAP Committee.

 

Through the Committee she is involved in a wide variety of interesting programmes and partnerships, such as National Reconciliation Week, a time where bp encourages challenging conversations focused on topics like modern day racism and inequity in order to raise awareness of the gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

 

Heather also encouraged bp to offer support to the Indigenous Unigames, a sporting week where universities from around Australia fly Indigenous teams to a hosting city to compete against each other in four different sports. It’s about healthy competition and is a chance for Indigenous university students to meet each other and celebrate their culture.


“Often companies are not fully aware of the complex nature of a social issue like Reconciliation. My personal aim as an Indigenous Australian, and the aim of the bodies I sit on, is to change this and offer support to the Indigenous community,” Heather reflects.

 

In sitting on the RAP Committee, she has been able to challenge the status quo, as well as people’s perceptions of these complicated social dynamics.

 

I really value that I have support from my line manager when it comes to pursuing my passions at work”, Heather says. “It’s great to see a company that genuinely lives by the values of courage and respect, to ensure that their staff feel welcome and supported