ONE of the world’s leading integrated oil and gas companies is offering the opportunity for top military leavers to gain commercial experience by taking part in a structured placement programme that aims to help former military personnel start their post-military career journey.
SaluteMyJob spoke to Charlotte Stacey, Early Careers Talent Partner at BP, about the organisation’s Military Placement Programme and why she believes ex-military individuals make great employees.
The BP Military Placement Programme only launched in January but is already a huge success. BP’s supply and trading business offers a six month paid placement, for former Armed Forces personnel, where veterans will receive technical training, business exposure and commercial experience. Each placement is different and examples to date have included Operations, Deal and Marketing analyst, and Environment Products Analyst.
“The BP military programme came about from a conversation directly with our CEO, Paul Reed (CEO of BP’s supply and trading business), who is a big advocate of individuals who have trained with and had experience of working within the military,” said Charlotte. “He really has felt for a long time, the skills they have and the values that they hold transfer very effectively into the BP work environment.
“We had a conversation, two or three years ago now. He was keen to ensure that we advertise our vacancies to these individuals and we tried to help them in applying for and securing roles within our business. So we did that for a couple of years and we felt it was actually quite difficult for people from the military to transition from one career to another and we came up with the idea for the military placement programme.”
"The skills they [veterans] have and the values that they hold transfer very effectively into the BP work environment"
BP takes 12 ex-military individuals annually, four into their London offices, four into Houston and four into Chicago, with each role on the military placement programme offering a different experience. Charlotte added: “We have many ex-military individuals in the organisation who have joined us from other organisations, but this programme enables ex-military candidates to join us directly.”
Ambition and “exceptional leadership skills” are some of the many transferable skills Charlotte believes make former Service men and women suited to the many roles within BP.
“I think ex-military individuals have great ambitions and are incredibly motivated to succeed. They often possess great leadership skills and those skills, even if they won’t necessarily use them to their full capability straight away, are something they will be able to hone, develop, and combine with the commercial experience that they gain here” said Charlotte. “In addition, they have developed a very safety conscious way of working and an ability to deal with ambiguity.”
The programme is designed so BP can make the work placements quite varied - so the organisation can really see what kind of candidates apply for these roles and what technical skills these individuals will bring.
“For example, some of our roles are in a more operational space or project management space. We found individuals from the military that have an operational type background will naturally apply for these roles and will naturally do very well,” explained Charlotte.
BP have hired a mixture of individuals, with different levels of experiences, different lengths of service and different military backgrounds but Charlotte said the process of employing ex-military talent could still be made easier.
“I think better access to individuals leaving the military would be helpful,” she said. “Sometimes individuals say they can negotiate to leave their positions early, sometimes they can’t, so the fluidity of the hiring process can often make it difficult when trying to balance business need with the individual's availability. In comparison, when we begin the recruitment process with graduates there is a defined process and timeline for attraction, but with ex-military we have to advertise broadly and hope that the right individuals are available at the right time. Because of this, there is less opportunity for us to build our brand and to differentiate ourselves from other companies.”
Charlotte continued: “For employers, it’s about finding the right roles. These individuals have been hugely successful in their careers to date so finding a role that balances their ambition and capability with a role that enables them to learn and doesn’t rely on them having a huge amount of prior industry knowledge is really important. If you find a role within your business that can accommodate those two areas then it can be hugely successful.”
"They have some excellent skills to offer and I think for us it is fantastic a talent pool. If we don’t have opportunities for these individuals then we as an organisation will miss out."
Charlotte added that she believes employers can do more to help ex-military personnel transition into commercial employment.
“The more time employers spend engaging with individuals looking to leave the military, the better informed candidates will be. This will help them to make the right next career move – from industry and position through to the organisation’s culture and opportunities. Rather than individuals thinking I need to find a job to pay the bills, I’ve only got three options and I’m going to have to apply for them all and see what happens,” she added.
“Go for it, you won’t regret it. These individuals are motivated, they are ambitious, they are hungry to succeed"
When asked why she believes it is important to give job opportunities to ex-Service men and women, Charlotte said: “They have some excellent skills to offer and I think for us it is fantastic a talent pool. If we don’t have opportunities for these individuals then we as an organisation will miss out. It’s also difficult to transition from one career to another career and not feel like you are starting again so it’s important for organisations to recognise the skills these individuals can bring to the table and work hard with their business to identify opportunities that will enable them to thrive and reach their potential quite quickly.”
If you are an employer and are thinking of creating a military programme, Charlotte offered this valuable advice: “Go for it, you won’t regret it. These individuals are motivated, they are ambitious, they are hungry to succeed but at the same time they have all of the softer skills that enable them to add value and be a great employee within any organisation.”
If you are interested in applying for a role with BP but want some help with your application, your CV or some interview skills, register with us and our careers consultants will be in touch to help you with this. And for more information on BP’s military placement programme visit BP's website.