We spoke to Completions Engineer at bp, Hish Hamid, about his experience as a first-generation university graduate of Pakistani heritage and how he is channelling his passions for advocacy and social mobility into a formidable early career in the energy sector.
Hish, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Hisham, but most people call me Hish. I was born and raised in Middlesbrough in the northeast of England, and I’m of Pakistani heritage. My father came to the UK in his early 20s from Pakistan, and my mother is a second-generation Pakistani. I work at bp as a Completions Engineer for the Clair Ridge Platform, one of our platforms in the North Sea 75km west of the Shetland Islands.
If I had to describe my personality in a sentence, I’d say that I’m naturally enthusiastic and have always been passionate about and active in the communities I’ve been part of. This is not only because of my character but also my upbringing, where we were always encouraged to try and give back.
What drew you to chemical engineering?
As a kid, I was always interested in fashion and literature, but growing up in a South Asian household, I was very much encouraged to pursue a vocational career. Neither of my parents had the chance to complete their education, but they were very keen for my siblings and me to get as much education as possible so that more opportunities would be available to us.
Teesside, the area where I grew up, has historically been an important centre of industry, but as a teenager, I had no idea about careers in STEM outside of healthcare! I initially applied to dentistry and received straight rejections to my university applications. However, I had a few friends planning on studying engineering, so I thought I’d give it a go for a year to see how it went. I’ve never looked back since. I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from Newcastle University. I recently received my professional chartership through the Institution of Chemical Engineers in just under four years as an engineer with bp.
What advice do you have for STEM graduates navigating their early careers?
I always say if in doubt, just give it a go! You’ll never regret taking advantage of opportunities to expose yourself to different sectors and roles. I worked in the pharmaceutical industry as an intern between my second and third years of university before exploring other opportunities on the market. After interning with bp in 2016, I secured a placement on the graduate programme. I would have never found the role I’m in now without being proactive and keeping an open mind to other possibilities.
I also think it’s important to see your job as a vehicle. It can be easy to feel that as a graduate, getting started in the workforce means letting go of the other parts of you that may have grown during university, such as a personal passion or commitment to a cause you care about. It’s easy to become focused on the technical aspects of the job search, but I encourage graduates not to overlook the importance of their values, behaviours and personalities aligning with the company they work for. We all have something to add, and bringing new perspectives to the table is important for all businesses.
Why is advocacy so important to you?
I feel particularly strongly about advocacy because of my upbringing and experiences. My parents didn’t have the luxury of education, and parts of Middlesbrough are pretty deprived. Coming from this, I found it a bit more difficult to ‘jump through the hoops’ compared to some of the people I work with today. Now I am extremely passionate about mentoring and social mobility, and I’m always looking for new ways to give back to my local and the wider community. In addition to my role as a Completions Engineer with bp, I facilitate the intern and graduate recruitment cycle for wells engineering. I’m also keen to support the recruitment of graduates from different socio-economic backgrounds for careers in energy. I recently represented bp as a panellist for a company called Rare, which specialises in DE&I recruitment.
For me, social mobility is not just about helping someone through their early career. It’s also about breaking cycles of deprivation that can have a major impact on the course of someone’s life. I wouldn’t have known about bp, and other opportunities had it not been for a network of peers, mentors, and educators that supported me along the way. So, it’s really important for me to pay it forward and uplift others.
What do you do in your role as a One Young World Ambassador?
One Young World is an annual summit that acts as a global forum for young leaders. The event is centred around collaboration as a means of addressing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. bp sends several delegates from across our business each year to network and learn from other ambassadors and speakers. Our delegates then come back to bp with a project concept centred around one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals. The projects are approved based on demonstrating a tangible impact to bp and wider society.
I was fortunate enough to attend this year (albeit virtually), and it was genuinely the opportunity of a lifetime! I’m currently working as part of a team with colleagues in the US and Australia on a project centred around social mobility and socio-economic diversity.
I was highly commended in the graduate of the year category for the OGUK awards in 2020. It’s been great to have a wider platform to speak about the importance of social mobility, particularly within the energy sector. I have also recently spoken on an OGUK panel event covering COP26 and climate change and a social mobility panel at Offshore Europe. I am honoured to work with inspiring young leaders from all across the globe, advocate for change, and make lasting friendships in the process.
Why is it important that BAME voices are represented in the fight against climate change?
BAME communities are disproportionately affected by climate change. Being of Pakistani heritage and from a family that didn’t have much money growing up, I know first-hand how environmental, health or employment crises can affect the stability of people and communities that are underrepresented and underserved. Therefore, it’s hugely important that BAME voices are represented in championing a more sustainable future for the planet.
Coming from Teesside, a region for which industry has been crucial, I’ve also seen the importance of renewables and green innovation for job growth and security. It’s important that BAME communities, from climate activists to industry leaders, are made visible in the fight against climate change. Our voices deserve a seat at the table for the most critical discussion of our time.