From Business Studies to early careers and training advisor

By Future TalentEd

Emily Gupwell’s degree apprenticeship at bp has led to an HR role helping other young people's careers.

So, what do you do all day?

In my current role, my largest focus every year is ensuring a smooth onboarding of our new early careers joiners into the trading and shipping part of the business. It’s great as I get to know the new cohorts of graduates, school leavers and apprentices joining bp, and have a really positive impact, giving everyone a great experience when joining the company!

The other part of my role is mainly project focused, whether that’s designing a new immersive induction experience for all early career new joiners to bp globally or looking at data management for our early careers. I also lead the People and Culture Early Careers Committee.

As you can see, my role is very diverse; no two days are the same, which is brilliant. You get to work with so many different people across the world, which is a great learning curve.

What key employability skills are invaluable to your position?

Definitely time management and prioritisation. While doing a degree apprenticeship, the quickest thing you will need to learn is how to manage your time between studying and your day-to-day role.

It’s crucial that you keep track of everything you have on (your day job, projects and university work) and how to assess the priority of everything. It can take a while to get used to, and things will always be changing, so it is definitely good to have a mentor and buddy who you can go to, to ask for advice when you are unsure of things.

“Being invited to represent bp at the House of Commons for National Apprenticeship week was an amazing experience — one which I will never forget!”

Why did you choose to study Business Studies?

I studied business studies at GCSE and A Level, as I found it the subject I could connect with the most. I loved how it’s all based around common sense, and you can have real-life tangible examples, which really helps bring your learning to life.

It has definitely given me an amazing foundation for my current role and career. Not only has the theory been very much aligned with my degree studies, but it has also given me a great understanding of how businesses are run, and the career options, jobs and business/areas of businesses out there, which really sparked my interest in starting my own career as soon as possible.

How is Business Studies useful in your work?

As the degree on the apprenticeship is Business Studies, the theories and how to structure business essays was a great foundation; I’ve found that really beneficial in helping me understand what we are being taught.

Then in my job, I’ve found that my background in studying business has allowed me to be very aware of certain business situations and how to handle them, and how to apply theories to my everyday work; knowing best practice has just given me a deeper understanding of why we do what we do as a business, and where I fit into it.

What further qualifications or experience would be helpful for your role?

When I graduate from the degree apprenticeship, I will have a BA in Business Studies, but I hope further down the line to get a master’s in either Business Studies or Business Management. I’m in the HR function of the business, and I think most HR professionalsfind having a CIPD qualification and membership to be crucial to their role.

What personal qualities help you thrive in your role?

Being personable has definitely helped me in my role. I love to talk to people; knowing what questions to ask can be really key in making decisions and improving processes. Continually understanding people’s perspectives, how and why they make decisions, and the history behind processes, are all good things to consider when decision making. Being inquisitive, organised and pragmatic are great skills to have when solving problems.

What has been the highlight of your job so far?

There have been many ‘pinch-me’ moments already, but definitely being invited to represent bp at the House of Commons for National Apprenticeship Week was an amazing experience — one which I will never forget! There are so many great opportunities at bp on an early careers scheme, so I am sure there will be many more moments like that.


This piece was first featured in our Spring 2021 issue of Future TalentEd magazine for careers leaders, parents and students.

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