Harriet Maxwell

Harriet Maxwell | BP

After completing the full suite of sciences along with Maths and Further Maths at A Level, I didn't want to have to choose between them so soon and so I opted for Natural Sciences at Cambridge. I completed the four-year Masters course with a Chemistry focus to achieve my MSci in 2013.

Just before my fourth year the question of careers arose and, knowing a data-based decision is always my preference, I applied for an internship at BP with the aim of establishing the potential career options. During the 11 week summer placement, the opportunity to work on a project with significant business impacts gave me the answer, specifically that I enjoy a role that combines my Chemistry studies with real-world applications. As a result, I successfully joined the BP Graduate scheme in 2013, and completed three placements in engine oil product development, fuels product development and the motorcycle engineering team.

The last of these was fundamental in my professional development - I discovered passion and an aptitude for engineering, which lead to me joining the Test Methodology Development team within Fuels Product Development after completing the Graduate scheme. This role was a perfect combination of fundamental chemistry and my engineering know-how, in order to design and implement bespoke engine and vehicle testing. The tests I developed discriminate the impact of a range of additives within the fuels. Knowledge of the chemical structures and modes of action of the additives, alongside the implications of the different pressure/temperature/friction regimes in the engines, is a brilliant logic puzzle!

Following that, and having learned to both ride and dismantle (then successfully reassemble!) motorcycles in my spare time, I moved to my current role in Motorcycle Engine Oil development at the start of 2018, to meddle with motorcycles at work too.