When Kelly was younger, she didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her parents had immigrated to the United States before she was born and had always put a heavy focus on school, but they had never discussed her future career plans. So, when her cousin, who was an engineer, suggested that she go to a STEM summer camp when she was in middle school, she thought she would give it a try. Little did she know, it would spark a love of engineering that would continue throughout her life.
After the camp, she started participating in similar activities, joining FIRST Robotics as a participant and then becoming a team captain, for the NASA CCISD team in high school. But when she was a junior at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the question of careers came around again. She attended a careers fair where BP was recruiting and applied for an internship. She was accepted, and from there, her BP journey began.
Kelly started as an intern in 2013 and progressed onto the Challenger programme in 2014. To ensure she was integrating as much as she could, she volunteered on committees in the program. She was the Technofest Co-lead in the Western Hemisphere and travelled to London, which allowed her to meet Challengers from around the world.
After the Challenger programme, Kelly continued as a subsea engineer in one of BP’s central teams, Global Subsea Systems, which has allowed her to work on projects around the globe. Now, more than six years since she joined, she says of her time at BP:
Reflecting back on her career, and what equality means to her, Kelly believes that the focus should be on opportunity and exposure. She says: “I come from an under-represented community – so trying to provide opportunities to those communities is how I understand equality”. Being first-generation American, Kelly understands the challenges faced by under-represented communities, and wants to make sure that everyone is able to participate in the decision-making process, regardless of their background.
In fact, Kelly believes that these differences are what brings value and diversity to the team and makes BP a great place to work, because of the people she’s been able to meet from all walks of life. She says:
She extends this philosophy to her personal life, where she makes sure to volunteer to help young women in her community understand how engineering can be a creative and engaging career. She is an active member of the Women in Energy Network, where she says: “I try to spend a lot of my time doing things which are STEM related and specifically for girls and minorities who, like me, didn’t have a lot of guidance to navigate them towards becoming an engineer”.
Looking to the future, Kelly recognises that there is more to be done in order to achieve gender equality. In her own words: “I think when we, as individuals, see promotions of women in the higher levels of the organisation, it’s empowering because when you have someone that you can relate to, someone that looks like you, someone that you can aspire to become, it creates an open road map to possibilities. In recent years, BP has set out metrics to hit gender target goals at the leadership levels. This becomes part of the metrics and really highlights gaps that we can one day fulfil”.
Safety is the foundation for everything we do at BP, which is why it continues to be our top priority
Rachael Reid joined BP on the Wells Challenger Programme in 2013 and was a judge on the panel of this year’s Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards