What does your role as an Electrical Engineer at BP involve day-to-day?
I joined the 'Challenge' graduate programme in September 2012. This involves mandatory training, but different electrical engineers do different things, depending on their project. Right now I’m working on cable sizing calculations. I’m working on a project in Oman, and at the moment we’re in the design phase. So right now I am designing the power distribution system for a series of wells on a gas project. We work with various engineering discipline teams, such as the pipelines and drilling teams, on this. I’ve also worked on partial discharge measurements, doing an investigative case study report on previous BP uses of partial discharge. I wrote a paper on this, so that will be part of BP’s library for engineers to use.
What was the process of getting on the graduate scheme?
The first level is just like any other company. You fill in the application online.
After the form, BP gives you a psychometric test, and a test based on maths, logic and English. Other roles, for example consulting and banking jobs elsewhere, have harder tests, because they test more statistical and data-analysis type maths. BP’s was challenging, but not too taxing.
Then there’s a first-round face-to-face interview, with an emphasis on technical electrical engineering ability. They’ll go through case studies, based on the level you’ve studied to, and judge you accordingly. After this and competency assessment you also go to an assessment centre for a day, which is largely group-based activity. You'll be mainly judged here on communication, teamwork and presentation: be clear and precise, confident but not over-confident. Also, they want to see your approach, your method, rather than your answer. They're looking to see how you think.
What they’re looking for above all is a sound background in the technical area you’re applying for, and a strong ability to work in teams.
You also joined the Universities Officer Training Corps, tell us about that.
It’s part of the Territorial Army. It was a great experience for developing leadership skills, teamwork and pusing oneself beyond the limits. They also offer bursaries for engineers, for those interested in getting into the army more long-term.
You’ve done lots of internships in India, including at Siemens and KPMG. Any tips for other students wanting to do this?
Well I’m from India, so when I was at university I went back home from the UK during the summer. I planned these well beforehand. I would advise students to apply for internships in September and October for summer internships. Another thing to keep in mind in terms of India is that it’s not as well structured as companies in the UK. In terms of KPMG, I directly emailed the HR administrator, telling them I wanted to work in risk consulting within the telecom industry, and so I worked there after my second year of university. Although you need a bit of luck, the main thing is planning ahead.
You studied electrical engineering at the University of Sheffield. Was that a good experience?
Brilliant. The best decision I ever made. I had several offers from UK universities, but I’m so happy I went to Sheffield. I didn’t actually plan to come to the UK at first, but it all worked out fantastically.
I’d say to prospective students to watch out for rankings. They are always biased to the region. For example, in north America, US universities will always dominate the top rankings. In European rankings, Oxford and Cambridge will always be near the top. But Sheffield always featured consistently strong in global ratings systems.
Any tips for an undergraduate wanting to apply to BP?
If you’re an engineer applying to BP, the most important thing is a sound technical grounding. You don’t have to be a high-scorer, but you need to do well in your technical interview. Also, competencies – read through BP’s website, understand their code of conduct. You need to demonstrate you understand their core values, which are on the site, the most important probably being safety – for personnel and the environment. Also, at university, get involved in as many team sports and organisations as possible. Use your time well.
What plans for the future? Do you see yourself going back to India?
Well, I do prefer warmer weather! BP is a fantastic organisation to work for, and it has a presence everywhere in the world, so I have to see where my opportunities lie here. BP has the best work-life balance of any organisation I've come across. But India, Australia, let’s see. If I’m with BP, in a place with a lot of sun and good food, I’ll be happy. I also might do an MBA or a PhD in Engineering in the future.