Business Schools

On the Human-Rights Watch at BP


I decided to attend Yale School of Management after five years in the nonprofit and public sectors in the U.S. and Asia. I joined BP, a large oil and gas company with operations in over 100 countries, first as a summer intern in the London headquarters, then full time upon graduation.

I spent my first three years with BP in Indonesia and China, where I assessed the potential social impact of two of our large investments. In Indonesia, I worked on the Tangguh project, a liquefied natural gas facility currently under construction in the remote province of West Papua. My team developed and began implementing an integrated social strategy for the project. We covered issues including human rights, resettlement, and community investment.

In Shanghai, I worked on a chemicals joint venture, ensuring that the temporary accommodations for the migrant construction workforce was built to stringent health and safety standards, and that the local government and community were prepared for the influx of population.

DRAWING UP GUIDELINES. I came to London about a year ago to join the central corporate planning team, which synthesizes data from all of the businesses around the world for senior executives. Our work helps to inform documents such as our five-year plan and events such as quarterly performance reviews.

My primary responsibility is to develop a new human-rights policy for BP, which means facilitating internal conversations and training sessions on the topic. I spend a lot of time keeping up-to-date on external developments, such as current lawsuits and business or NGO (nongovernmental organization) initiatives, in the debate on business and human rights.

My other responsibilities include supporting one of our managing directors in his activities with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a Geneva-based membership organization of 175 companies committed to sustainable development. Further, I manage the company's partnerships with institutions such as Yale and Tomorrow's Company, a London-based think-tank.

Here's a snapshot of a typical day in my life:

7:30 a.m. -- I stroll to the Tube for my short commute to work. My boss isn't traveling this week. He arrives in the office at around 8 a.m. when he's in town.

8:00 a.m. -- On my way into the building, I run into our regional coordinator for Asia. We arrange to meet for coffee later to discuss my trip to Jakarta next month to facilitate human-rights training for the field team there.

8:10 a.m. -- Twenty-two e-mails since I logged off last night. The ones of substance are primarily about a U.S. journalist interested in visiting the Indonesia project. Since the Asia team is in the office now, I call one of them to discuss logistics. E-mail is the wrong medium for discussing nuanced issues, particularly across cultural boundaries.

8:30 a.m. -- I go downstairs to our print room to pick up the latest version of the human rights training package that I've put together for internal use. I'll send this out to some of our business unit leaders around the world so that they can facilitate their own internal mini-workshops.

9:30 a.m. -- I facilitate a conference call with representatives from the nine companies taking part in a World Business Council project on the role of business in tomorrow's society. We've agreed on a few topics that will help us frame this discussion -- poverty, environment, global interdependence, and population. My biggest challenge is to make sure the discussion isn't merely academic but actually informs how we do business.

11:45 a.m. -- My boss has an external lunch meeting. I head to yoga at the gym around the corner and pick up lunch on the way back.

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