Summer interns Rugiyya Aleskerova and Sarkhan Bayramli share their thoughts on work, life and the incredible 20 year journey of the ACG project with Adnan Hajizada
In 1994, the year when the “Contract of the Century” was signed, the birth certificates of Rugiyya and Sarkhan were signed by local officials. When First Oil was produced from Chirag in 1997 they were in kindergarten. By the time ACG Phase 1 was sanctioned they were in elementary school. By the time they had their high-school graduation party the one billionth barrel of crude oil had been carried through the BTC pipeline. Now they are young adults, university students and summer interns in the Human Resource and Engineering departments. They did not know the world before ACG. So it is interesting to hear the views of two young people who are fully immersed in a “universe” shaped by the Azeri Chirag Gunashli project.
Sarkhan is a student at Newcastle University’s Marine Technology and Offshore Engineering faculty and loves his field of study and the career it may offer. Born into a family of doctors, Sarkhan’s natural instinct was towards medicine and related fields. However, as he got closer to choosing a university and a career the oil and gas industry attracted him with its possibilities of international travel, technological advancement and robust progress. “That was when I started to hear about BP, and how it is one of the few world class businesses in Azerbaijan – and that it is hard to land a position there,” says Sarkhan. Currently Sarkhan is an intern in a team that is working on structural engineering support for the Central Azeri flare tip replacement.
Rugiyya studies in the State Oil Academy on a joint Business Administration programme with the Georgia State University in USA. Her focus is on marketing and human resources. Her professor on spoken English advised the students that they should look into interning with BP because it gives great opportunities for development. She says that BP is “much more than a workplace - it is a place that helps you to grow as a person and as a professional.” She adds: “If you want to be someone, BP is a great place to start, so you can choose your direction.” Rugiyya is working on one of the company’s nationalization projects and analyses the results of training courses (leadership, maintenance and others) attended by expat and national employees.
When it comes to looking back at the 20 years of ACG development, Sarkhan feels it has brought only progress to Azerbaijan. Although it is hard to fathom the overall scope of activities and the benefits of the project, Sarkhan highlights the economic prosperity and western-style work ethic that BP has brought into the region, with its meticulous procurement and contracting procedures, as one of the major gains from the contract. “Above all, I feel that the value of human life within the framework of process and office safety has also risen and I attribute that to the generally positive safety culture brought to us by BP,”, he explains. Rugiyya notes that the start of the ACG project coincided with tumultuous times in our country. She mentions that in 1994 Azerbaijan was a young state in transition, had inherited Soviet-era structures and ways of thinking, was partly occupied by Armenia and generally had dim prospects. “I’m glad that BP helped us to leave behind the Soviet past where doing business was considered evil,” she says. Rugiyya believes BP showed Azerbaijanis that business can have a positive impact on society by creating much-needed professionals in all spheres and supporting the community through corporate social responsibility.
About their internship
Sarkhan’s internship, he says, has gone smoothly and been very entertaining at the same time. He particularly has enjoyed the friendly relations between employees regardless of their status in the company. Most importantly, he feels that no time is wasted at BP and each moment is used constructively. “I could have done a lot of things during the two months of summer – vacation, sports, travel. Instead I chose to be here and now I feel this is hands-down the best use of my time and has helped my development.” When asked about a possible working future in BP, Sarkhan interrupts the question with an “Absolute yes” answer. One of his goals is to work offshore. “I really want to continue my work at sea. It seems much more challenging, exciting and directly connected with my field of study.” One month into her summer programme, Rugiyya stands on her own two feet as an intern. “At first, my tasks mainly involved assisting other employees and learning from them. Now I have my own project and I feel like a full-time employee” she explains. Rugiyya thinks that people in BP are somehow different. In her words: “They do not forget to smile, to be helpful while doing their job and driving the company forward.” Eventually, she says, she would like to work full-time in BP’s HR department, and then try to move up the corporate ladder. “I am not easily satisfied so I’d like to do two or three jobs before landing a position where I feel at home,” she remarks.
About BP's values
Sarkhan’s favorite is Respect: “I feel that this value overlaps with the Azerbaijani mentality. If you have respect for others and a certain amount respect for yourself, others will show you the same or even bigger amounts of respect,” he observes. “That will help to establish healthy relationships between people and, on a larger scale, between governments and organizations.” Rugiyya’s “value of choice” is Courage. She likes the way BP people are ready to speak up and defend their point of view regardless of the level and status of those they are opposing. Rugiyya herself was courageous in applying for her internship, going through the long selection process and becoming a winner at the end. “When I saw the implementation of this value in our day-to-day work in BP, I understood that I belong here. These are ‘my people,’” she concludes.