Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Claire Madden, Process Engineer at BP

Claire Madden, Process Engineer at BP

How I got into engineering
I went to a state school for girls where I completed my A-Levels in chemistry, physics, maths and further maths. I then went on to study chemical engineering at Imperial College, London.Claire Madden
I loved my degree as chemical engineering is quite a broad subject area which can open up many career paths. For example, people in my class went on to jobs in the banking, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors. I also find it quite interesting as a subject and it is quite varied. There was some scientific theory but a lot of the focus is on teaching you about problem solving skills and report writing skills which are very transferable to most career paths. I really enjoyed my degree and would definitely recommend it to others.

What I do now
I’m a process engineer at BP; therefore I spend a large amount of time working on the interfaces between the Subsea team I am in and the people designing the offshore platform, ensuring design alignment.

My first role is part of a graduate scheme based within our global projects organisation. I have been assigned to the Shah Deniz Project, based in Azerbaijan. It has been a good experience as my role is quite unique for a Process Engineer. With the way that BP is moving forward with more subsea projects, my improved understanding and newly acquired skills should prove beneficial in the future. I’ve been working on this project since September 2012.

My career highlight so far
The highlight of my time at BP so far has to be my secondment to the summer Olympics in 2012, where I was a transport workforce team leader. I was based in the site in Russell Square which was the “transport hub.” We had to transport all of the different media crews that were covering the games to the venues. The workforce was mainly a group of volunteers. It was a great experience and I also had the chance to socialise and interact with new people both within and outside BP.

My biggest challenge
I would say that my biggest challenge has been working on the Shah Deniz Project, as it’s an unusual project in itself. It involves many challenges that come with deep water and high pressures. We have been planning how to isolate certain pieces of Subsea equipment. I’ve had to hand in a study on how we are going to combat this isolation whilst minimising the risks that come with it. As part of Project feedback to BP, we developed a strategy of how we would combat these risks, and sent that to the technical expert with the hope that they would refresh the isolation standards in BP. Therefore, future workers should have guidelines when they encounter similar problems in the future.

My advice for anyone considering a career in engineering
In a professional working environment, in order to be productive and to get things done, it’s important to interact with a wide range of people and to maintain a healthy relationship with people in the team and the wider company. Developing presentation skills is something that is very important and generally comes up as a task in an assessment centre. When starting work, the people around you are always going to be more experienced, but realising that you learn the most by interacting with them and making that effort to engage can be very valuable. BP and other companies are looking for those people who are intellectual but who can also communicate.

Doing an internship can also really help. It gives you that added topic to discuss in an interview and can give your application form more diversity than others. I was actually really lucky with my interview. My interviewer used to work at the small company that I previously interned at, so we had that added topic to talk about and therefore I feel that internships are a really valuable experience. Within the interview, they are looking for people who can think logically about scenarios. So it’s beneficial to take your time to consider options and apply a logical chain of thought; cramming from a text book on the day of the interview may not be the best approach!

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