Richard Mundy works for BP, one of the largest energy companies in the world. He tells us all about life on the high seas.
I graduated two years ago from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Chemical Engineering. After my second year I worked all summer for Rolls-Royce in Bristol, at a factory making parts for jet engines. After the third year I spent a summer at BP – after this internship I was offered a graduate position.
The internships were a great thing to do. Not only do you learn something about engineering in the real world, but they let you try some things before you decide on the career that you might follow for the rest of your life.
Working for BP
I liked BP and realised that such a huge company had the advantage of having suitable jobs available all over the world. Being a professional chemical engineer allows you to apply academic principles, but also to get involved with practical troubleshooting and to take responsibility in a business.
BP offer a graduate scheme which typically takes the form of two or three placements in a different part of the company. The scheme also prescribes 25 days of training each year to develop your engineering competence and broader skills.
I am currently in my second placement. My first job was based in the office in Sunbury, West London, where the team provides engineering support to BP’s worldwide oil and gas processing operations. My duties depended on what jobs came up for the team, which made things varied. The down side was that work came in fits and starts, plus you didn’t always get to see things through.
In the field
Now I work a rota of one month in the Aberdeen office, two weeks on the Magnus oil platform in the North Sea, then two weeks of holiday and then back to the office again. It’s completely different to what I did last year, as now I’m reacting to short-term problems and you see the benefit of your work in person. The job is much more about soft skills and less about long projects involving more technically detailed engineering.
The platform is 160km North East of the Shetland Islands, so we travel by plane and helicopter. About 180 of us work there at a time and we keep ourselves amused with a gym, cinema, playing pool and eating well when we’re not working. It’s a pretty big place, so it took me a few weeks to explore and to find my way around.
It’s good to get involved with engineering at the sharp end – you soon learn practical things that you would never pick up at university. Getting involved with lots of different activities and meeting all sorts of experienced people are the most valuable aspects of this job.
Plans for the future
For my next placement I’d like to take a position on a major project, perhaps get involved with the construction or the detailed design of a new oil platform, or gas terminal.