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From a careers fair to a 23 year long engineering career at BP: Nathan’s story

Published:
09 April 2020
Reflecting back on his 23-year career at BP, Nathan realises how much change and innovation there has been

Nathan first discovered chemical engineering at a careers fair at the age of 13. “I can still remember the role description: someone who designs, builds, operates and maintains chemical plants. I thought that sounded interesting, so I set my mind on pursuing a career in engineering,” he says. 

 

During the second year of his chemical engineering degree at Bath University, BP was interviewing people for a year in industry. Nathan applied and has been at BP for 23 years since, overseeing many different projects. Today, he is the director of engineering for BP’s Upstream in Mauritania and Senegal.

 

When asked what keeps him at BP, Nathan says: “The opportunities. Those that I had when I first joined, those that I have had over the years, and those that the future holds.”

 

A never-ending passion for engineering

 

Nathan continues to be passionate about engineering:

I love a true challenge, and my work is complex and varied. It’s a mix of both technical and people skills as well as problem solving, paired with time pressures and the need to balance the highest levels of safety and quality.

Over the years, Nathan has worked on a series of massive projects all over the world. He recalls one of his proudest moments: “In 2015, a large platform that I managed for six years was brought to Norway, ready for installation. Seeing something of that scale and complexity sitting there ready to go was a lump-in-the-throat kind of moment. And to top it off, last year I went to our head office in London and they had a replica scale model of the Glen Lyon FPSO in the atrium. Nobody had told me they’d done that – it made me feel very proud.” 

 

Nathan has spent his entire career in engineering, so he thinks it’s important to encourage others to join. He says, “engineering seems to struggle with its image, but you shouldn’t be afraid to take a chance. All the cool things I’ve done and the career progression I’ve had are a direct benefit of choosing a career in engineering.”

 

One company, many countries 

 

As part of his job, Nathan has lived in Azerbaijan, Singapore, Korea and the UK. He has also travelled extensively, from Alaska to Trinidad to Mauritania and more. This allowed him to work with and learn from a variety of people – diverse by origin, culture, experience and gender. 

 

“In 2017, I was asked to set up new operations in Mauritania and Senegal. It was a unique opportunity to build a large engineering organisation capable of constructing a world-class gas business from a completely blank sheet of paper. Over the past two years, we have recruited over 100 engineers and established engineering teams in Singapore, Paris, China, London and Oslo. We have engineers straight out of university working alongside peers with 25 years of experience. Some of the projects we work on are so challenging they could be on the Discovery Channel! 

 

Of course, Nathan admits that all this moving hasn’t always been easy: “The biggest challenge has been balancing a demanding role with bringing up a family. But my family has travelled the world with me, so we’ve always been there to support each other.” 

 

An energising place to work 

 

Reflecting back on his 23-year career at BP, Nathan realises how much change and innovation there has been. He says:

At BP, we’re not afraid to try new things, in terms of ways of working, how we structure businesses, and broader decision-making processes. We’ve also brought new technologies and disruption into engineering. This makes it an energising place to work.
The people are also part of what makes BP so special. BP’s diverse people are bound together by their foresight and ambition. “It would be easy to sweep difficult projects under the carpet and give up, but that’s the difference about BP: everyone wants to do the right thing,” he says.