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Be yourself – everyone else is taken

19 March 2024

Joanne started at bp as an apprentice 30 years ago and is now VP of digital disciplines

Kerry Griffith
bp recently hosted the launch of the Empowered Females in STEM Programme , we talk to Joanne about her career, her experience of mentoring and how starting off as an apprentice set her up for success. 


The Empowered Females in STEM mentor programme is designed to empower participants on their journey toward fulfilling careers. How have you benefitted from mentoring in your career? 


The idea of the Empowered Females in STEM mentor programme is that through mentorship, people not only gain valuable insights into STEM careers but also foster meaningful relationships that extend beyond the initiative. 


Mentorship in my own career has been so important – I have been a mentor myself for many years, internally and outside bp, and get just as much from my mentees as they (hopefully) get from me. 


I have also done reverse mentoring – mentoring group leaders through bp Pride (the business resource group for LGBT+ and ally employees). I love hearing and learning from others’ experience and wisdom. 


In your experience, what’s the best way of finding a mentor? 

People often ask ‘how do I get a mentor’ and I say: look around you. Who is exhibiting behaviours you admire, who perhaps has been through challenges you are facing? Then ask them directly. My experience in bp is that people appreciate being asked, and want to genuinely help, so if you don’t ask, you will never know. What’s the worst that could happen? 


How did your apprenticeship set you up for success in your career? 

My apprenticeship, while over 30 years ago, was an incredible building block for my career. It taught me the power of open questions, active listening and problem solving.


Being new to both the company and corporate life, I was able to ask ‘why’ and ‘what’ an awful lot. Listening with respect to the experience in the room, while bringing fresh eyes to a problem is a superpower! 


The experience also grounded me to what’s important to the business.I started in lubricants and it was all about customer, quality and safety – something that holds true today in the area I work in now.


What did your apprenticeship teach you? 


The importance of relationships in getting things done. Stakeholder management, connecting with others, getting on with people – whatever you choose to call it, things get done through relationships.


Do you have any advice for girls in school who enjoy STEM subjects? 


Getting up every morning to go to work doing something you enjoy is not something everyone experiences!


If you find a subject or a skill that you enjoy, that you are passionate about, that calls to you at an early age, I say embrace it.  


As girls start to think about careers, my advice is to match your passion for STEM with a company that has purpose – if you can bring those two together, it’s super powerful.


And you will go to work doing something you enjoy with a higher purpose.   


If you want a career where you can contribute with pride and purpose, check out our apprenticeship opportunities.



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