Simon and his colleagues, who have had an outstanding impact in their respective fields early in their careers, received a prestigious award at the Royal Academy of Engineering Awards Dinner on Wednesday 27 June.
The prizes are awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers; the competition recognises outstanding early career engineers with prizes of £3,000 each.
Having worked with bp for over seven years, Simon successfully led a team of engineers from disparate disciplines to land a challenging and innovative qualification process for flowlines exposed to environments containing hydrogen sulphide, referred to as ‘sour service’. Simon’s leadership ensured that the correct decisions were made to deliver a safe and reliable solution that fully integrated different aspects of process, mechanical, pipeline, materials and corrosion engineering.
Simon also promotes engineering outside bp through his work with the Institute of Corrosion, leading their Route to Chartered Status programme, and he is actively involved in engaging STEM students and future talent. He successfully mentored a team of Year 12 students and last year he hosted four work experience students and two six-week interns from local community schools, providing them with a real insight into the breadth of opportunities that a career in engineering can offer.
We asked Simon to tell us a little about winning the award and his career to date.
I’m really proud to have won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Young Engineer of the Year award. It is rare to step back and reflect on what we have achieved, and this award gives me a great feeling of acknowledgment both for myself and all those that have helped me throughout my career. It was a privilege to be able to represent bp at the awards.
I am, and have always been, curious to understand how ‘stuff works’. Some of my fondest memories are of helping my dad to fix farming machinery. They were huge, yet, it was amazing to see how intricate they were and how every piece had a role. I could relate physics, chemistry and maths to how the equipment worked and this definitely set me on the path to studying STEM subjects. I studied Materials Science at university and have never regretted choosing this discipline: there is just so much variety. Why engineering and not science? I just prefer to see the end results in action and wanted to be able to look at engineering feats and know that “I was part of that”. I get a real feeling of pride when I look at the projects that I’ve helped deliver and the operations that I help run.
Listening to the stories of the other winners at the Awards Dinner, and the after-dinner speech by the Princess Royal, it was hard not to be inspired by the breadth of opportunity that a career in engineering offers, as well as the important role engineering must play in advancing society and overcoming some of our greatest issues. This makes me excited about my engineering future!
Since joining bp I have been involved in technology development, projects and operations, presenting me with a fascinating array of challenges. I love the combination of fundamental understanding, experience and innovation that is brought to bear to address the biggest of these challenges and the multi-disciplinary nature of the work. I have the benefit of working in multiple ad-hoc teams with peers and leaders who give me the opportunities and development that I crave. I can phone colleagues on the other side of the world and they are always happy to help with their thoughts or experience. I feel a part of a great team that gives me the chance and encouragement to do some amazing things. When things don’t initially go 100% to plan, whether it’s “my problem” or “someone else’s problem”, I like the way we all come together to get everything back on track and then we learn from what went wrong. Although it sounds cliché, it has always been my colleagues who have made the job great.
The feeling of achievement I get from working as an engineer will never get old. An epiphany moment for me was two years ago being stood on the PSVM FPSO off the west coast of Angola while oil was being offloaded to a tanker which was destined for a refinery in China. It was then that importance of my role and that of my colleagues in the oil and gas industry, and everything which bp does to support it, really hit home.
I like the sense of “giving back”. The engineers that I admire most have helped me because they want to see me succeed; they want to help future generations exceed their achievements. I can really associate with this mindset and get a lot of pleasure in helping others develop and succeed. I take enjoyment from being able to reflect upon some of my own experiences and support the next generation in finding their own way into further education and a fulfilling career.
I am excited to be leading the Institute of Corrosion’s ‘Route to Chartership’ scheme which is intended to help recent university graduates navigate their way to Chartered Engineer status. We are fortunate in bp as many companies do not have structured development programmes such as Challenge and this scheme is designed to support those engineers with a mentor who is able to identify their gaps and development requirements. There are some great volunteering opportunities available, and I would encourage all engineers to explore the Career Ready internship initiative as it is a great way to give students a high-value work experience whilst also delivering real value to bp.