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Raising profiles - celebrating excellence in engineering

22 August 2019
Set up by the Women’s Engineering Society, National Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign that raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on career opportunities available to them in the industry

While the landscape of science, technology, engineering, mathematics is shifting women are being drawn to work in this profession at a low rate: a profession that badly needs their skills. Currently, women make up less than 10% of the engineering sector in the UK. An additional 87,000 graduate level engineers are needed each year between now and 2020, but the higher education system is producing only 46,000.  It’s never been more important to encourage more girls to choose a career in engineering. 


Diversity is one of BP’s core values and we have many women working in our engineering ranks. We value the skills all employees contribute and reap the benefits diversity contributes to our innovation and bottom-line. Our commitment to gender diversity is demonstrated in our vision for women to represent at least 25% of group leaders - our most senior managers - by 2020.  A goal we are making progress toward.  

Interview: Leigh Ann Russell, Vice President - Global Wells, BP
STEM _ Children from Twickenham Prep visit Sunbury and attend a workshop hosted by BP process engineers Amrita Lulla

Amrita Lulla works for BP in Sunbury-on-Thames as a process and safety engineer. She has mentored young people on work experience programmes in Surbiton and Hounslow, run by the Engineering Development Trust in partnership with BP.


It's in addition to her day job that Amrita trains young people on work experience programmes in Surbiton, Surrey and Hounslow, and West London as a mentor, engaging with school students on real-life engineering projects, involves explaining the business context the challenges that professionals have to face every day.


Amrita's role in as a mentor demonstrates her passion for getting more young girls involved in engineering, but she’s aware of the challenges. “Traditional images are also hard to shift,” she says, “There isn’t enough positive coverage of engineering and engineering role models in the media. Most science and engineering TV shows or media articles feature men, which reinforces the idea of engineering being a man’s world.”


She does have a solution: “There has recent surge in women studying forensic science. This has been linked to strong role models on TV shows, so perhaps we need a female engineering detective show!”


But in all seriousness, Amrita adds: “I also think that girls don’t appreciate that engineers are some of the highest paid graduates and the employment rates for people with engineering degrees are very high. The numerical and problem solving skills you acquire in an engineering degree are very much in demand in several different industries and an engineering degree opens doors.” 

Susan Dio, chief executive of BP shipping has been included in an inaugural list of 50 Top Women in Engineering


The list, which was published today in a supplement in the Telegraph, was released to commemorate National Women in Engineering Day. Susan was appointed chief executive officer of BP shipping in May 2015. During her 32-year career with BP, she has held a wide variety of operational- and commercial-leadership roles. Previous roles include the business unit leader at Bulwer Island refinery in Australia, followed by a role in group audit as head of audit for the Downstream.


Susan is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Mississippi, a registered professional engineer and a former certified welding instructor.


In March 2015, Susan was honoured by the Manufacturing Institute as a recipient in their third annual Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Awards. The program recognises women in the manufacturing sector who demonstrate leadership and excellence in their careers. The STEP Awards are part of the Manufacturing Institute’s broader STEP Ahead Initiative, which was established in 2012 to promote the role of women in the industry through recognition, research and leadership.

Before joining BP, Holly Thornton was a decision support liaison for London's 2012 Olympic Games.

For the past three years, she's worked as a graduate mechanical engineer at BP's research and technology centre in Saltend, Hull, UK.

Here, she answers some questions on her career.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in engineering?


During my later years of school I discovered I enjoyed physics and maths. I started to think about pursing a degree course in one of those fields; looking to continue to learn about what I enjoyed rather than following a career path.


Did a person or experience influence your decision?


An influential teacher suggested mechanical engineering to me as I found the idea of a three-year degree and career in physics or maths alone very boring!! I went to a couple of mechanical engineering taster days at different Universities and decided it was probably the right thing for me. Fortunately it was!


What has been the highlight of your career so far?


During the BP challenge graduate scheme I spent a year working for the petrochemicals reliability team, I had a great team and line manager who I learnt a lot from. This role gave me the opportunity to develop my technical skills and networks in various locations, the sunniest being Cooper River in South Carolina – I still use the contacts I have made from that year in the plant engineering work I do now.


What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in engineering?


Find ways to try different types of engineering through STEM activities in your local area or your careers office, use this to make connections with Engineers use them to explore the different opportunities there are in engineering.


What is exciting about working at the Hull location?


I work in an office just a few hundred meters from the petrochemicals manufacturing sites, which means I can see the plant I work on from my office window. It’s rewarding to see the output of the work you do being used by the operators and technicians in the field and to be able to get their input into engineering solutions which ultimately makes their job more efficient and improves our manufacturing processes.


What type of work do you perform at your location? 


I am a plant mechanical engineer dealing with short, medium and long term plant issues; from risk assessing a leak on plant and defining a repair to working with my team to define the requirements for new installations or defining equipment repair scopes during plant maintenance outages. The work is varied and there’s always an exciting challenge around the corner.  

Rising stars


An initiative by www.wearethecity.com, the Rising Star Awards were introduced to showcase the wealth of UK talented females (below management level) and to create one hundred role models across 20 different industries and professions. BP is proud to have one one nominee and two winners of the award working in the business.


Anne Claudel


Anne is currently an internal technical auditor in BP’s Upstream function but her previous roles have given wealth of operational experience on many engineering projects - often in extreme environments. Or, as she puts it: “I froze in Canada in minus 40 degrees, sweated in the Algerian desert at 50 degrees, and looked like a Teletubbie in my survival suit offshore in the North Sea.” Anne is fluent in English and German (she also “has enough Spanish to order Tapas”). In recognition of her achievements, Anne was presented with the Rising Star award for the oil and gas sector in June 2016. It’s something she takes in her stride: “I believe in capability,” she says, “not in gender considerations.” Outside of her day job, Anne is also Chairperson for the London Society of Petroleum Engineers.


Rose Haziraei-Yazdi


Rose graduated University of Cambridge in 2012 with a master’s degree in  civil, structural and environmental engineering and joined BP shortly afterwards, where she currently in the Upstream engineering centre, providing discipline engineering support to multiple regions and projects. Prior to this, she was in North Sea region developing a sustainable concept for an offshore life extension project as well as providing structural integrity management for two offshore platforms. Rose was recently nominated for a Rising Star Award in recognition of her work in the oil and gas sector.


Eleanor Collins


Durham University alumna and Rising Star award recipient Eleanor holds a master's in chemistry and currently works for Castrol, formulating the next generation of Magnatec products. She’s dedicated to the responsible provision of energy and works with BP group technology as an emerging technology champion to achieve this. “I love my job because it requires both scientific application and creativity,” she says. This combination is something Eleanor believes women are well equipped to provide and she works actively to inspire the next generation of female STEM students, teaching at local schools, lecturing at universities and hosting events to empower and inspire her colleagues. Eleanor says: “I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of STEM students, raising awareness of the importance of gender parity and championing diversity of thought in the workplace.” 

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