When Kirsten applied for university, she had to fill out a personal statement as part of the application process. It left a lasting impact: “I still remember what I wrote: I want to make the world a better place”, explains Kirsten.
Almost a decade later, working as a process engineer in Petrochemical Technology at BP, Kirsten still shares the same ambition.
Today, Kirsten supports BP’s petrochemical technology development and licensing. She compares this with making lemonade: “My work involves trying to figure out the best recipe to make the best lemonade out there.” But, BP doesn’t just keep the recipe to themselves. The resulting licensing activities seek to allow others to use the product and “make great lemonade too. It is important for us to share our recipe.”
Like many areas of the BP supply chain, it is important to focus on efficiencies and minimise waste: “My role essentially seeks to optimise the production process for petrochemicals, improving performance and reducing the negative side effects of producing chemicals.” She continues: “For BP, this is very important - if we work more efficiently we can lower the production costs, but also reduce our emissions output.”
The benefits do not stop here, innovative advances made by Kirsten’s team can have a domino effect of positive impact. “With our licenses we influence the whole industry, and consequently, wider society”, says Kirsten.
After just three years at the company, Kirsten began leading a number of projects herself – her work was quickly recognised. This recognition came in the form of three BP Helios awards. The awards are a global initiative which grants internal recognition, based on BP’s five values: Safety, Respect, Excellence, Courage and One Team.
One particular award entry demonstrated some of her and the team’s work which was an industry first. On this particular project “we knew that the catalyst composition used in one of our steps had become a standard composition within the industry”. But, not resting on their success, the team considered how they could further improve the process. Kirsten explains: “In our project we wanted to test the different compositions of the catalyst, which was a brave step to take as nobody had done this before. In the end, the project delivered the lowest ever consumption that we had achieved, which was a great success! I am proud of being in such a great team that can deliver this high quality of work. This was definitely one of my proudest moments.”
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