I am the VP and CIO of Corporate Functions in BP. This is a global role supporting circa 7,000 people to deliver IT products and services that allow them to succeed in their daily roles.
I started my IT career as a programmer, providing IT solutions for various industries such as retail, trading and insurance.
Within BP I have had a rewarding and fast-moving career in IT. Given the size and scale of the business there are many different opportunities and challenging projects that provide plenty of scope for development. My roles have included heading up Trading IT Infrastructure, delivering IT strategy and running transformation programmes.
Why you think IT is important
There is very little that can function without IT today. Computing & Technology is already a massive part of our lives, as we go forward that influence is only going to continue. The next generation of technology innovators is going to be the people who shape the future. They will dictate how we interact with each other and with the world around us.
Why people should consider IT as a career option
You will be helping other people: Technology helps people learn, working in IT is about helping people work, helping them solve problems, it is about changing people’s lives for the better. Working in IT can help people in small groups and at a scale of millions at a time.
It is about being creative and having fun. Technology is about inventing, designing, building and marketing ideas (including yours). It is about seeing something the world does not have today and creating it.
It is about teamwork and problem solving. It is about working with others, collaborating over ideas, working in a team and solving problems together.
Having an opportunity to perform these activities every day at work is extremely rewarding.
Your experiences of working in IT
IT underpins everything we do in my company, IT allows our traders to trade, our refineries to run, our ships to navigate the oceans and take the optimal routes, our engineers to develop new ways of accessing oil and gas, our managers to keep track of their teams’ development, analyse and interrogate seismic data. I get the opportunity to make a difference through solving complex problems, enabling the business to operate, helping people achieve their business goals whilst working in a highly motivated and talented team.
Any advice you would give to a person considering a career in IT
Don’t be put off by Computer Science and IT subjects at school - they are not always an accurate indication of what a career in IT is all about. Try out a “learn to code in a day”, “Create an app in a day” course or learn to programme a Raspberry Pi or get work experience in a technology company or an IT department.
Remember IT is not just about coding and using complex mathematical algorithms. It can be about application testing, user and application support, helpdesk support, business analysis, system design or project management.
Whatever path you chose you will need communication skills, ability to work as a team and with autonomy
What made you choose IT as a career?
I have always enjoyed problem solving and working with people, I like the mix of dealing with the customer and doing something analytical. As a young teenager in a school holiday job at a toy shop I used a computer to manage our stock - I was attracted by the prospect of analysing information that led to increased sales and the ability to stock the right level of goods for our customers.
It was satisfying and good business to ensure we had enough stock of the latest craze for kids. So, with a mix of having enjoyed working with computers in a holiday job and doing a careers test that pointed me in the direction of computer programming, I studied Computer Science after school and went on to be a computer programmer.
IT has moved and developed significantly since I started my career and it is still constantly evolving from one month to the next. This progressive development means we all have opportunities to take on new challenges and learnings.
As BP’s VP and CIO for Corporate Functions, Lyn Grobler has responsibility for the IT strategy and capability that supports the operations of all of BP’s Functions plus the Alternative Energy and Shipping businesses.
Lyn joined BP’s commodity trading business, Integrated Supply and Trading (IST), in 2003 after gaining experience leading large scale IT projects and strategies within the Banking and Trading environments in London and South Africa.
Lyn has held various leadership roles in BP including CIO Oil Europe & Finance Trading, Head of Strategy & Architecture and Head of Portfolio Planning in June 2010. Lyn most recently became the VP and CIO for Corporate Functions in July 2011, making her the most senior female leader in IT and a Group Leader in BP.
Outside of this role, she is an active advocate of BP’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda, leading the global Women in IT group as well as being a sponsor of the BP wide International Women’s Network.
Lyn graduated from the Cape Peninsula University in 1985 with HND in Electronic Data Processing. She is currently listed in the latest Cranfield FTSE 2013 Report as one of the ‘100 Women to Watch’.