By Kelly Jackson, Vice President of People & Culture at bp
I began college thinking I would pursue a career in accounting. But I quickly realized that numbers didn’t excite me—people did.
I think this love of people and my desire to help others was instilled in me from a young age.
My father was an executive for United Airlines, and I grew up watching him work his way up the corporate ladder at a time when there were few minorities in senior-level roles at Fortune 500 companies. Despite his own difficulties, he remained committed to doing what he could to pave the way for others and proactively support the growth of talent that came after him. I found his drive and motivation incredibly inspiring, and his career journey ultimately had a profound impact on my own career.
After graduating college, I decided to join a human resource consulting firm, Hewitt Associates, which is where I got my first taste for the world of HR. This experience spurred me to look for other opportunities where I could broaden my skillset and led me to apply for a position at Wrigley as a HR business partner. Wrigley, now Mars Wrigley, is the largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum in the world. One of the highlights of my time there was leading the HR function at one of the company’s manufacturing sites. I found being able to support, engage, and develop the talent that made the very products that allowed the business to be profitable to be extremely rewarding. I am also proud that I launched Mars Wrigley’s African American Network, working alongside senior leaders to form the organization’s first African American business resource group and inclusion lounge.
Empowering bp’s greatest asset—its talent
After 12 years at Mars Wrigley, I felt the need to spread my wings and broaden my corporate experience. There was an opportunity at bp to lead HR for Global Business Services Americas that caught my eye, and I went on to begin my bp career in 2012. I’ve since transitioned across various roles at bp, working as an HR leader in petrochemicals and supporting bp America’s mobility and convenience business, before eventually moving into my current position as vice president of bp’s People & Culture capability.
In this role, I’m responsible for developing, empowering, and engaging the extraordinary P&C talent within bp. On a day-to-day basis, my responsibilities include leading and supporting my team to deliver our P&C strategic capability priorities. Those priorities are: defining the P&C career narrative—the vision for how we develop careers in P&C moving forward; improving talent mobility through our new enablement group—developing a refreshed approach to how we fill roles and staff projects; supporting learning and development initiatives to foster the skills and capabilities that P&C will need in the future; and finally, creating a truly connected and engaged P&C community.
Talent development is a key interest of mine and my team. We are passionate about ensuring that P&C receives the same support and development that our function provides to bp.
Caring for people and planet
After 10 years with bp, I am confident that it is an employer committed to making a positive impact on the lives of its employees, people, and the planet. P&C plays a key role in supporting the development of the organization, which will help the business to deliver on its ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner. I am proud that I can contribute to this mission in my own way by driving our P&C capability strategy and ensuring that our HR talent is cared for, which in turn allows HR to care for bp’s greatest asset—our people.
Across bp, I have been pleased to see the progress we have made in promoting DE&I among our people. I am part of a recently launched program called LIfT which is an accelerated pathway to support black employees, with future cohorts planned to include other minority ethnic groups. Through LIfT, bp creates a new, highly personalized experience for each participant that includes targeted development based on his or her desired future career pathway. I am also part of the BELT (Black Extended Leadership Team), which is focused on creating a connected and results-oriented culture within bp, where black talent excels. As part of my participation in the BELT, I am pleased to serve as the lead of the BELT mentorship subcommittee. This subcommittee was created in line with bp’s DE&I framework, and our ambition to grow and develop a pipeline of diverse talent.
After more than a decade, I remain energized by bp’s commitment to making the workplace a diverse, inclusive environment where, no matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, or race, you can thrive and grow as your own authentic self.
This is the vision my father hoped to actualize, and I am proud to be contributing to the creation of such an environment for future generations.
Kelly Jackson is Vice President of the People & Culture (P&C) Capability. In this role, she is committed to developing, empowering, and caring for the People & Culture talent within bp. Since joining bp in 2010, Kelly has held positions of increasing responsibility, including HR Director-Global Business Services Americas, HR Director-US Petrochemicals, and Head of P&C for Mobility and Convenience Americas. In addition to her core responsibilities, Kelly is also involved in driving multiple DE&I initiatives at bp. Prior to bp, Kelly spent 12 years across a variety of human resource leadership roles at Wrigley, now Mars Wrigley. During her career at Wrigley she provided HR business partner support across functions, including Manufacturing, Marketing, and Supply Chain. Kelly holds a BA in corporate communications, with an emphasis in public relations and advertising from Northern Illinois University.