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How does a NASA diver end up at BP?

03 December 2019
Virginia Moore has blazed a trail for female engineers that has taken her from preparing astronauts for life on the International Space Station to ensuring the safety of BP offshore riggers across the world
Virginia's story

Working as a diver at NASA’s Natural Buoyancy Laboratory, where astronauts train underwater in preparation for the zero gravity environments on board the International Space Station, Virginia Moore was pretty sure she had found her dream job. But after five years, she realised she wanted a career that would continually challenge her. It was then, thanks to her father, that she turned to BP. 


“I was conflicted about leaving NASA because I realised that moving into the  energy industry would be a big shift”, she says, “but after hearing more about a BP programme called Wellsite Leaders of the Future I realised I should look into applying”.


10 years on, Virginia works in BP Upstream in the Global Wells Organisation. Surprisingly enough, she has found both of her jobs to be pretty similar: “NASA are always leveraging new technologies, and BP stands out in the same way. Both organisations are innovative and looking at how to optimise things to make sure that the equipment they use is effective and safe”, she says.


Leading rig audits and managing risk globally


After graduating from the Wellsite Leaders of the Future programme, Virginia worked as a well site leader and rig audit lead where her focus was on carrying out rig audits above and below the water. She has worked in Azerbaijan and Oman, spent time in London and audited rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.


Today, working as part of BP’s Rig Verification Team, Virginia is a technical expert in how BP manages risk around the word, leading incident investigations and preparing rigs for start-up by verifying compliance with industry standards. “I enjoy being in a role where I am actively making a difference and having a positive impact on safety. It’s what I’m passionate about – I always knew I wanted a job where I could help ensure people get home to their families safe”, she says.


Virginia’s role also suits her personality: “I have more of a mechanical mind, so I like working around rig equipment and being involved in the mechanical side of things. Personally, I love being an investigation lead because it really aligns with my personality type”.


A safe space to work


As well as focusing on the physical safety of BP employees, Virginia has been impressed by the supportive environment at BP. 


When I started at BP, I had a female team leader who showed up as an inspiring woman in the industry. I truly looked up to her and how she developed her career

As Virginia's career progressed, she also benefitted from the  support she received from her coach at BP. “Not only did he treat me as if I was one of his family members, he also treated me in a professional and respectful way. It was invaluable.”


This culture has been instrumental in ensuring that Virginia feels comfortable enough to be her true self in the workplace. “It was three or four years before I shared my personal life and started talking about my wife”, Virginia admits, “but once I became more open about who I was it actually helped to build bonds of trust and respect within my team. BP truly embraces diversity and the business is what makes me feel really at ease.” 

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