Growing up in Central California, Ray Lopez didn’t know many engineers that looked like him. “I knew I wanted to do something different – to inspire others like me to push their boundaries” he says. “I thought that while I could stay in California in the warm, beautiful climate, I could also try something completely different”. Ray’s decision to study petroleum engineering at the University of Alaska was a big but exciting step out of his comfort zone.
“One of my greatest mentors in life has been my football coach. He would always say that if your mind can believe it, and your heart can perceive it, then you can achieve it. That sounds cliché, but it always resonated with me”.
Inspired by his coach’s advice, Ray set himself the goal of becoming an engineer. He credits his coach and other supportive educators for helping him push to make his dream a reality.
It was at college that Ray was first introduced to bp, winning two bp scholarships which supported him through school. “It was more than financial support, it was an introduction into bp as a business,” Ray says. As a result of his scholarships, he had the opportunity to visit Houston and Chicago to see the heart of bp’s American business. This was just the beginning of Ray’s journey within bp, as he joined the STEP (Shaping Talent, Energy, and Potential) Program, spending another week in Houston with other college students from around the US. With a further two internships in Alaska while at college, Ray “had a clear idea of what bp American operations entailed. Starting my career here was a natural choice”.
As a deepwater drilling engineer in the Gulf of Mexico, Ray is committed to paying it forward, onboarding current graduates and providing them with opportunities to network with colleagues and leadership.
Helping raise the profile of underrepresented communities in STEM careers is also a real passion. Ray is part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) organizations. He’s also part of bp’s business resource group called Energía (meaning ‘energy’ in Spanish). “A lot of Hispanics from all places in Latin America share a sense of unity within this group. We're bonded by culture and language, but also come with different experiences from within the business.” During Hispanic Heritage Month, the group profiled a different Latin American country each week, serving food from that country, sharing facts and music to give people the chance to learn more about that culture
He’s also part of the National Academy Foundation, helping to empower underrepresented youth across the US. While it’s not always engineering-specific, Ray speaks about his career to high school students on a quarterly basis. “They might not want to be engineers, but it at least shows them that there are opportunities outside of what they thought possible.”
Ray is passionate about helping the next generation, and feels like this is reflected in bp’s culture as well. Since starting at bp, Ray has been able to take on bigger projects, and now hopes to help others do the same in their careers, no matter their background.
bp has invested in Mexico for more than 50 years. It all began with the marketing and commercialisation of Castrol lubricants in the 1960s