After a brief stint as a lawyer, Leanne Brandling-Harris swapped her briefcase for combat boots and joined the army, graduating as an officer from the UK’s prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. After six years of service, Leanne undertook a new challenge in the world of finance as part of BP’s military placement programme.
It was at her time studying law at the University of East Anglia that Leanne joined the officers training corps – a reservist unit in the British army. Serving part-time allowed her to complete her studies at Cardiff University where she completed her postgraduate law degree. However, a short time into her career as a solicitor, Leanne realised that she wanted to pursue her interest in the military – and made the decision to join as a full time officer.
Of her time at Sandhurst, Leanne says: “I trained there for an intensive year, learning basic military skills as well as building up my management and leadership abilities. You learn how to be responsible for and in command of a large number of individuals. They put you into some very challenging, high-stress environments on a frequent basis.”
These skills were put to the test as Leanne was deployed on Op Herrick (the UK’s mission in Afghanistan) and later, she found herself in West Africa, working alongside the French and United States forces.
After six years of service, Leanne made the decision to return to civvie-street. As she puts it: “I got to a point in my military career where I realised that I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of my career rising up the ranks. It is an all-encompassing profession that dictates your work and home lives. It seemed like a good point in my career to utilise those skills, in a civilian environment.”
BP’s military placement programme is one of a number of similar schemes offered by large companies, but the BP supply and trading offering intrigued Leanne as she says it is “much more targeted” than many of the other veterans’ schemes. “They really invest time and training in you,” she notes. “You’re also given a lot of support to network and have exposure to all sides of the business.” The role, as Leanne discovered, goes deeper than she expected. “The supply and trading team offers you exposure to financial trading, but also the product development and marketing that underpins that.”
BP’s military placement programme is designed to strike a good balance between giving candidates tangible roles with clear responsibility and also allowing them the time and space to get up to speed with sector knowledge. In Leanne’s case, she received introductory training for trading and the oil & gas deal cycles, which were an opportunity to learn skills in new areas but also afforded her the opportunity to translate her transferable skills from the military such as organisation, strategic thinking, leadership and management.
She currently works for supply and trading’s global environmental products team as an analyst. “The volume of energy related products that we trade on a daily basis is mind-blowing!” she says. “It’s a mammoth task but it’s inspiring.” However, there’s another side to the intensity of her day job. “There’s a real focus on work-life balance,” Leanne is keen to point out. “People work hard but there’s no prizes for being the last person in the office. It’s a really healthy work culture and morale is very high.”
BP offers a fantastic structured placement programme giving top military leavers the opportunity to gain commercial experience at BP
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