Mukta Tandon

Mukta Tandon is a leader in digital transformation at bp and has put her own unique stamp on work to drive digital transformation across the business.

Last year bp committed to transitioning to net zero by 2050 or sooner and Mukta believes digital transformation sits at the heart of reimagining energy. She and her team are focused on changing existing ways of working, by shifting how bp connects with its customers and how they connect with bp through digital and online platforms

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I joined bp 16 years ago having previously worked in various communications and branding roles in New Delhi, New York and Chicago with multiple advertising agencies. For bp, I worked in the brand and communications space for 10 years and then moved into Castrol, to lead the digital marketing excellence team six years ago. At that time, we identified a gap at Castrol between the relationships that we were developing with our customers and the service we were providing. In essence, we recognised that the world was changing, and that digital was fast becoming the most effective way for us to connect with customers through our digital and online platforms.

My role quickly developed, and I began driving the digital transformation and innovation agenda across the Castrol business. It was my job to be the connecting bridge between business needs and our various digital teams. This involved a lot of strategy work; thinking through how we develop our digital capabilities so that they can be adapted and localised to suit each market. Everything we did was about making life easier – for our people and the people using our products – our customers.

My priorities in my current role, as head of customer experience and digital product delivery for bp’s fleet and B2B portfolio, are much the same. I’m still striving to find the digital connections that can improve how we interact with our customers. When we are building digital products across bp’s business units, my role is to ensure that the customer is always front of mind. What we’re trying do is ensure that we find the connecting points for customers across every business group, and subsequently create an integrated customer experience. We want them to have the most seamless relationship possible with bp and this means challenging ourselves to make sure everything we do puts the customer first.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. Well, not this career anyway! In fact, I started out on a very different path and studied architecture in India at the TVB School of Architecture. I come from a family full of architects, but I was a bit rebellious so I made plans to do something different. After graduating I started working with an exhibition, design and ad agency before completing a Masters in Brand and Design Management in the UK.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

The biggest career challenge has been balancing family life and a career. It’s been a constant struggle to manage both aspects of my life and ensure I give my best to each. For me, it’s never been a ‘balance’ but more of a ‘mix’ as I don’t believe someone stops being a mother or a wife or a daughter when they’re are at their desk. Typically, balance means taking from one side and giving to the other, which I’m not prepared to do. To tackle this challenge, my mindset has always been to remember that what makes me whole is all aspects of my life not one or the other.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

A highlight would be putting my current digital transformation team together. It was an under the radar project for a long time. But now some of the projects that we’re working on, whether it’s helping the rest of the organisation adopt agile ways of working or bringing the customer to the centre of design thinking to build products that are focused on the end user, are things everyone at bp is talking about. I am quite proud that we were the early adopters of some of these ways of thinking. It reaffirms that we were on the right track.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Being completely passionate about what I do. No two days are the same and there is constant opportunity for growth that makes every day an opportunity to learn. I don’t feel close to the point where I can say that I know everything about digital transformation, and I don’t think anyone ever could.

I derive a lot of inspiration from thinking about human interactions, psychology, behaviours and relationships. Digital transformation is about changing how we work because understanding people, the end user, is a critical part of ensuring that we can create the right customer experience for them. We need to understand how our customers think, what motivates them, and the needs that they have so that we can pre-empt their pain points and solve their problems. I find it fascinating that digital is enabling a lot of these shifts to happen so that everyone can become more efficient and productive.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

On a personal level I’d also say “never settle for less than you are worth.” If you sell yourself short the people around you will always look at you that way. If you know what you’re capable of then hold yourself to those standards, because if you value yourself, others will take notice.

When it comes to a career in technology, a growth mindset is really important. As the world is changing and new technologies emerge it’s up to organisations like bp to hire the right people; people who have the right attitude and are willing to take the measured risks needed to help the organisations they work for grow. You can teach anyone to do anything, but you have to have a person who’s willing to learn, change and give up what they know in order to see things from a different perspective. That’s what technology companies need as they grow and evolve.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

While there are certainly barriers that remain, I think the situation as a whole has dramatically improved. I can only speak for myself and my experiences at bp but I’ve felt supported here as a working mother. For nine years after my first son was born, and up until both my boys started at school, I had the flexibility I needed to work from home five days a week; running teams, working with agencies and working with remote teams. That opportunity was phenomenal and meant I could give my best to my home life while managing my career. I never felt like I had to make a choice between being a mother and having the career that I wanted.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

For me mentorship is the most important thing. I’ve had some managers who have been extremely supportive – they could see what I was capable of and made sure I had the support I needed to advance my career. They provided me with opportunities to prove myself and encouraged me to fight for the roles that I wanted. In my experience it has been the leaders who are willing to trust in people rather than in pieces of paper or qualifications that have helped me grow in my career.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

The one thing that I truly believe could accelerate the pace of change for women in technology would be a shift of the mindset to one where women are not simply compared to male colleagues and measured to standards set by an outdated system. A mindset that treats everyone fairly, respectfully and appreciates what they bring to the table regardless of their gender. A mindset that allows everyone to grow, contribute and make a difference at their own pace and in their own way, and recognizes that this approach will enable there to be more equity in the system overall.