Lina Lee, cfo and vp strategy of Global Petrochemicals, has always been looking for her next challenge. From a childhood in Hong Kong to joining BP 17 years ago, she tells us: “I’ve always wanted to go outside my comfort zone and challenge myself.”
After university and an early career in banking, Lina decided to go to the United States for her MBA “to experience new things and people and see more of what the world looked like.” Although an MBA itself would be more than enough of a challenge for most, Lina didn’t stop there: “I wanted to do something more challenging. Given that I grew up in Hong Kong, which is a financial centre, I decided to major in finance.” She chose the Midwestern city of Bloomington, Indiana – not the obvious choice for a foreign student, she notes, but she wanted to embrace the challenge and immerse herself in American culture.
After finishing her MBA, Lina started working in finance, first as an analyst for a gas company, before moving back into the banking world after qualifying as a Chartered Financial Analyst and working 80 hours a week. But after her daughter was born, Lina decided to look for a new type of challenge. She says:
The challenge of finding and showing her authentic self at work took confidence, and Lina says stepping beyond her comfort zone to experience new things was key. “At first, I doubted myself, but in the time I’ve been at BP, I’ve worked across various parts of the business, and every role I’ve done has allowed me to challenge myself in a different way and work with different people. It’s been really eye-opening, and I’ve found that with the confidence this has given me, I’ve become more authentic in how I work.” Now, she says: “when I introduce myself, I always talk about my family. I talk how my daughter has helped me to prioritise things in my life and has ultimately made me better at the job I do.”
Lina believes being a parent has made her a better, more inclusive leader:
She says this has spurred her curiosity in how to motivate and challenge people to bring out their best. She was also positively encouraged by her daughter writing in a birthday card last year, ‘thank you mum for exposing me to challenges in the last few years to make me a better and stronger person today, this has been your best gift you’ve given me’.
For Lina, creating an inclusive working environment is vital in giving her team the confidence to challenge themselves and those around them: “The more confidence is built, the more potential can be unleashed. People need to feel that they won’t be judged, and that they can speak freely what is on their minds.”
She says that’s why equality is so important: Making sure people feel equal and heard in a workplace means that they can continue to push themselves to achieve more for themselves and the company as a whole.
The advice Lina would give her younger self now? It’s all about confidence: “Be yourself, and grasp opportunities without the fear of failure.”
We are a global business and as such it is paramount to us that the differences we see in the world around us are reflected in our workplace
BP people reflect on why respect and inclusion is so important and share their own experiences