Trading and technology in the energy industry

Recruits on two of BP's graduate programmes tell us how their first few weeks have gone
Types of work

The trader

Tara Behtash is on BP's Trader Development Programme, a three-year rotational programme of year-long placements intended to give graduates the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective commodities trader

"I'm on the oil options desk - my team doesn't trade physical oil but contracts granting options to buy and sell oil in the future.

BP participates in the oil markets as both a producer and a consumer - sometimes its oil rigs sell crude oil BP can't use itself and sometimes its refineries buy crude oil when they can't source it within BP. And whenever it buys and sells oil, BP needs to make sure it gets the best available price, and we do so by using options and other oil-related derivative products.

Trading up

A big part of my role is to track our trading positions and the shifts in price of the different products we deal with. We need to always know what our position is and how it's being affected by market movements.

Sometimes we have to rebalance our position - I might tell our traders that we need to make a certain purchase or sale to do so.

I've learned so much already about how the oil markets work - the different oil-producing regions, products and grades. I've also learned a lot about the different financial products that are traded on the commodities markets.

I've also improved my skills. I'm more organised and able to work more effectively. I think I'm also more proactive - I'm now more willing to ask questions when I need to and take the initiative.

Whenever you start a new job, the learning curve is really steep, but finding out new things every day has been great.

Recently, there was a change in our position and I found I could understand very quickly why it had happened, and could even have predicted it - it's very rewarding when you realise you've made progress.

Market knowledge

Over the next few months I want learn more about the commodities markets and the products we trade - in January, I'm going to visit one of BP's refineries.

I also want to learn more about currency trading, as we use many different ones. I want to acquire the knowledge and experience to effectively assess the markets and spot opportunities for BP.

As I've only just started the graduate programme, I don't know exactly what my next two rotations will be, but they're likely to include some experience in trading physical oil products and an operations role to understand more about how the teams who support the traders' work.

After my three years on the programme, I'll take a trading exam, and then, I hope, start my career as a trader here."

The technologist

Aisha Chaudry is on BP's Information Technology and Services (IT&S) Graduate Programme, a two-year rotational programme of two year-long placements after which graduates are encouraged to apply for a role within the IT&S team.

"My working life at BP started with a three-day induction programme for all new graduates here, which was all about what it's like to work at BP and gave us the opportunity to meet all of the other graduates, the HR team, and some of BP's senior people.

Talking about it

I'm working as a business analyst in the integration services team. The role of integration services is essentially to enable different parts of our trading systems to speak to each other - we're ensuring that messages are effectively sent and received by our trading team, which is important because if a message goes astray, it could mean that we lose a lot of money.

At the moment, I'm mainly working on a project where I'm trying to improve one of our existing systems. As graduates here, we're encouraged to come in and look at things in a different way to the people who've been working at the organisation for years, and I've seen a few things in the system that could be made to work better.

Open opportunities

I think BP's graduate programmes are great because they're structured enough to give us the support we need and to ensure that we stay engaged and challenged, but also open enough to give us plenty of flexibility - I feel I have a real say in how my career will develop here.

I don't know yet where I'll go for my second year on the scheme, but I'll have regular meetings with HR to be kept in the loop about opportunities and to express my own thoughts.

I've enjoyed getting to know other people on the scheme. This year the IT&S team recruited graduates in London, but also in Houston and in Singapore - and it's been particularly great to get to know the people working in other offices.

One thing that's surprised me here is the number of opportunities there are outside our specific roles.

For example, I've been able to join a group for women working in IT&S, which runs events with guest speakers and is a great way to do some networking. I've volunteered to be part of a scheme BP runs where we visit local primary schools to teach children computer skills.

I've also been asked to get involved in graduate recruitment - I'm going to visit my old university to promote the IT&S graduate scheme, and next year my intake will all be buddies for the new graduates joining us."

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