Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BP encourages girls to pursue future in engineering

Professionals from BP’s Women’s Wells Association (WWA) hosted a networking and mentoring lunch for Houston-area students where they shared insights about working in the energy industry and offered advice for pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and math.  

More than 20 BP women — including project engineers, wells engineers, subsea engineers and geologists — joined 60 female high school students from Spring Branch Independent School District for “Lunch with the Experts,” a program designed to help young women learn more about STEM careers.

Before the luncheon, students toured the upstream learning center at Helios Plaza and got an up-close look at BP's new Igloo, a virtual reality 360 projection system.

“This kind of real-world opportunity gives our students the chance to connect with and learn from leaders and professionals,” said Linda Buchman, community relations officer for Spring Branch ISD. “This experience is invaluable; it will help them determine the career path they want to take.”

Career advice for future engineers

Starlee Sykes, vice president of global projects, offshore, gave the luncheon’s keynote address. She emphasized the importance of gaining work experience in college and encouraged the students to be thoughtful about their goals.  

“Whether it’s solving problems, overcoming challenges or traveling all over the world, go out and find what you want in your career,” she said.

Sykes pointed out the high salary potential that comes with STEM careers — noting a college internship in the oil and gas sector that paid her twice as much as what other companies were offering — and talked about the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

“When it comes to rotating equipment and other technical components, women have just as great an aptitude as men,” she said. “Being a woman does not make you ‘less than.’”

As a wife and mother of two young sons, Sykes went on to discuss how she balances a successful career with spending time with her family.

“You can’t do it all, but you can do the things you want to do.”

Sykes closed her remarks by encouraging the students to be deliberate in charting their own career paths while staying open-minded about new opportunities.

“Don’t let someone else guide your career path or your goals,” she said.

Christine White, completions engineer and co-chair of WWA, added that being receptive to new professional possibilities is important even after entering the workforce.  

“It is so crucial, especially for the career paths that are available at BP and within the STEM fields, to be open to opportunities that could develop you into a better engineer or employee.”

Promoting women in STEM

WWA is an internal network of women who work in BP’s global wells organization. The group promotes recruitment, retention and progression of females in STEM disciplines.

Over the past three years, WWA has worked with Spring Branch ISD to promote engineering careers to students, especially girls and underrepresented minorities, through initiatives including career fairs, college preparation presentations and mentoring.


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