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Niki Virdee: Searching for my passion

18 September 2019
Emerging technologies manager Niki Virdee talks about her career and how technology is fundamentally recreating the way BP looks and thinks about employee experience

Where did you work before joining BP?

I joined BP from Vodafone a year ago, where I worked in the Global HR team - leading the development of an employee experience chatbot; helping employees to find relevant learning to build skills and capability.


We saw the conversation around machine learning in HR begin to mature. So I decided to invest in my future and study the impact of Artificial Intelligence at MIT.


This gave me the knowledge to understand how people and technology intersect and where we have potential to drive change in HR systems.


What is your current role?

My role involves exploring how BP might use new technologies to modernise the learning and talent experience for employees, as well as managing a portfolio of group systems. This is only achieved by deeply understanding how the business works, and working collaboratively with our BP University, Academies, and business areas. I am passionate about where people and technology intersect. This means understanding the things that make us human and matching intelligent systems to these characteristics – bringing human and machine together to deliver happy employee experiences.  To do this, I lead a team within HRIS to identify and explore new user cases, using Agile practices to pursue these with speed. This year we have completed a successful proof-of-concept around a new learning experience that uses machine learning to recommend relevant learning to users – kind of like the Netflix for your learning - watch out for its global deployment this year!


Niki's career map

It's amazing to see how my career has been influenced by the technologies that shape our world.Niki VirdeeProduct manager: Emerging technologies, BP



Which three words would you use to describe your role?

Creating and defending happiness (4 words, sorry!)


What do you like most about your job? 

We're in a beautiful moment of our Modernization journey. The way in which we're rewriting our story, our culture, our workspace, is fundamentally recreating the way we look and think about employee experience. We have the opportunity to reinvent and fail fast. We can collapse and erect new tools that create significance for our users very quickly.


What are you most excited about working on now? We recently worked with the Upstream to launch a pilot with a new nudge tool called Humu. It is being used to help practise the "Our Mindset" initiative and supports our modernisation efforts to build a better Upstream business. I'm super excited to see how this is received. It's the first time we are using a virtual coach and analytics to prompt and suggest actions (nudges) to employees that will make our teams as successful as possible.


What do you like most about working at BP?

This is an easy one, it's the people! Working at BP means to work with family. The relationships we have are deeply rooted with respect and admiration – with the outcome being trust. And it's from this trust that we're able to lean-in, be vulnerable, and challenge one another to bring our real selves to work. 


What is your personal mantra?

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there.


If you didn't work in HR, what job would you like to do?

I wake up every day doing what I love; to serve others through humble leadership. I don't believe you should wait to act on the things that are important to you, that fulfil you as a person, and support your personal growth. I can therefore say that I'm already doing "the job I would like to do" now.



Alongside my day job. I'm deeply passionate about helping others to see how they can unlock their energy by being themselves in the workplace. I recently spoke on this topic at the Learning Technologies conference

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I'm currently planning my wedding (help!) which takes up a large amount of my free time.  However, when I'm not doing this, I love gaming on my Super Nintendo, travelling the world using Google Earth on my HTC Vive (Virtual reality), and getting in time with my family and friends over a friendly game of VR Zombie Apocalypse!