Spotlight: Emma Farquharson, Graduate Process Engineer at BP
Tell us a fun fact about yourself
I love music, whether that is listening to it or playing instruments. I used lockdown to improve on my piano skills and have been learning a few Disney tunes recently!
Tell us about your career journey so far
I completed my Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Aberdeen in 2018. I had a placement over summer in the Production Solutions department at Halliburton after my third year, followed by an internship at bp where I worked in the Process and Process Safety team at bp in the summer between my fourth/ fifth year at university. These placements really helped me gain an understanding of the industry and confirmed that this was the career path I really wanted to pursue. I started as a graduate in bp in September 2018.
In my first year with bp I worked offshore on one of our North Sea assets which was an unbelievable experience! I’m currently positioned onshore working in a team to support all of our North Sea assets.
What was your favourite subject in school and why?
I enjoyed a lot of subjects at school, but one that I always loved was maths – I think because there was something about working on a problem and finding a solution that I found really satisfying. I also loved all of the sciences (physics, chemistry and biology) – particularly the practical aspects of these where I could see science in action and how it translated from what we saw in our textbooks to a practical application!
What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?
Definitely maths, chemistry and physics from school – these make up the basis of what I do. Also, in my Chemical Engineering degree at university a couple of courses had group projects which I found really useful and learned how to work on an engineering problem as part of a team, which is an important skill to have in my job.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I love the variety of what I do and how each day is never the same. It’s rewarding to be presented with and then go on to solve a very diverse range of problems. The people I have worked with are also incredible – when I started offshore everyone was so supportive and helpful. There’s a great company culture of care which really makes a difference and makes it a great place to work.
What is a normal day in your role like?
As mentioned, the days can be so varied meaning there’s not really a typical day, which is what I love!
In my first role, when I was offshore what I did was very much based on what was happening on the plant at the time – work scopes could emerge overnight with new problems to solve. There were a few daily tasks that I was responsible for including managing registers and monitoring tools, where I investigated process trends (looking at pressures, temperatures, flows, or similar) to see what was happening in the system and ensure that things were operating as they should. The best part of offshore for me though was when I worked on shift with the technicians. I worked with the various disciplines including production, mechanical & electrical, and through this I learnt so much about how the plant operated and how the equipment worked. It was amazing to go out and work on the equipment that I had only ever seen on drawings!
In my current role, I work on a wide variety of different tasks including calculations for sizing equipment, putting together registers, developing technical notes, risk analysis or providing support to projects. It often involves working with different teams of people and using problem solving skills to get to the end result.
Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?
A lot of my work this year has involved studying and assessing the risk of different processes. Learning to assess risk is an important part of life nowadays and is a skill used in many professions. Can you think of any high-risk activities at home and then think of ways that you could prevent the hazard from occurring?
It may not be obvious at first, but there are a lot of risks in our day-to-day lives. Take walking to school as an example. On your walk to school you will have to cross roads which can be very busy with cars and it is important to stay safe whilst crossing these roads. Ways in which you can make this safer include looking both ways before you cross the road and using a pedestrian crossing.
This may be a very simplified example, but see if you can come up with any interesting ones yourself!